The Supreme Court in Chechnya remanded for retrial the case on declaring the wife of abducted Salman Tepsurkaev a victim


02 February 2023


On 31 January, the Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic quashed a ruling of the Staromyslovsky District Court of Grozny. Previously, the court of the first instance refused to declare Elizaveta B. a victim in the case of abduction of Salman Tepsurkaev, an opposition Telegram channel moderator. The reason mentioned was the absence of official marriage, however, the case had all the evidence that they lived together and they had a religious marriage. Nothing is known about Salman’s fate for two years already.  

Now the Supreme Court of Chechnya took into account the position of the lawyers with the Committee Against Torture. We pointed at the ruling of the European Court which specified back in 2021 that in case of Tepsurkaevs, their religious marriage is proven, they were living together and considered themselves spouses. In addition, the criminal case materials contain the evidence of their cohabitation, whereas no evidence of the contrary is available with the investigative authorities. Judge Gakaeva acknowledged that during the examination of the case in the first instance, the CAT lawyers’ arguments were not paid attention to, and she quashed the ruling of the Staropromyslovsky District Court of Grozny. The materials have been remanded for retrial to the same court. 

Salman Tepsurkaev, an opposition Telegram channel moderator, was abducted in 2020 in Gelendzhik. The channel was telling about human rights violations in Chechnya and later on was declared extremist by the Russian authorities. The witnesses of the incident reported that the abductors showed the IDs of the Ministry of the Interior’s officers. Subsequently, the geolocation of the phone showed that Salman was in the territory of the Patrol and Point Duty Service Police Regiment named after Akhmat Kadyrov in Grozny. Later on, a video record was made available in the internet, which showed fully naked Salman who was cursing himself in the Chechen language, and attempted to sit on a glass bottle. Nothing is known about Salman’s fate for several years.     

In 2021, the European Court acknowledged that the Russian authorities violated Articles 3 and 5 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms: «Prohibition of torture» and «Right to liberty and security of person». Salman Tepsurkaev was awarded a compensation in the amount of 26 000 euro, which his partner wife received on his behalf. 

The comment by CAT lawyer:

«Sufficient amount of evidence of family relations between Tepsurkaev and his wife was gathered – for example, the case materials contain the evidence submitted by witnesses which confirm religious wedding (nikah) between them and the presence of their joint housekeeping. In addition, nikah is a very common family type in Caucasus, generating close ties, but we are facing a reluctance of the investigator to declare Tepsurkaev’s wife a victim basing only on the absence of a passport endorsement»

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