Chechens call for their abducted relatives to be returned


On Wednesday 30 August, International Day of the Disappeared, a protest meeting was held in Grozny (Chechnya) by relatives of those who have disappeared. They demanded that the authorities find out what has happened to their loved ones. The problem of abductions worries the authorities of the republic, and human rights activists, but in different ways.

In its recent report on the human rights situation in Chechnya, the human rights organization “Memorial” stated that in the republic “lawlessness has become entrenched, and people live in constant fear”.

“Memorial” spoke of the most pressing problems being “abductions, extrajudicial executions and killings”.

For example, on 17 August in Grozny the journalist Elina Ersenova was abducted.

According to “Memorial”, since the beginning of this year 125 people have been abducted in Chechnya, with 63 being later released. The official authorities give much lower figures.

Human rights groups link the disappearances with the activities of official structures. The authorities, while acknowledging the problem of abductions, deny this. Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov last year declared the abductors of people to be his own mortal enemies.

“Connivance of Federal forces”

Chief Editor of the Internet publication “Caucasian knot” and member of the Board of “Memorial”, Grigory Shvedov said in an interview to, that “coercive methods of investigation and work with suspects  have become the main instruments of the justice system in Chechnya and some republics of the Northern Caucuses

“This situation will rebound on us. We are creating a problem not only for Chechnya, but for Russia and the entire civilized world”, Grigory Shvedov warns.

Up to 90% of the abductions are organized by those receiving their pay in the Russian Federation”.

Shvedov considers that the judicial process is carried out with violations of civil rights

The fact that law enforcement agencies, in Shvedov’s view, make mass use of such methods he believes to be linked with the connivance of federal bodies which are effectively legitimizing such types of activity”.

“Of course such activities are much more effective: it’s easier to torture a suspect than to try to find proof of his guilt through legally acceptable means”, Shvedov comments.

In his opinion, because of the global struggle against terrorism the world community is closing its eyes to violations of human rights in the Northern Caucuses, placing stability above democracy.

A new security council

The Chechen authorities also recognized that there is a problem with abductions, however they react in their own manner. The Head of the press service of the Chechen President Alu Alkhanov,  Said-Muhammed Isaraev told that “the problem of abductions is an issue which the President of the Chechen Republic has under control”.

According to his information, in comparison with last year the number of abductions has decreased 10 times, “although even one abducted person is a tragedy”.

Isaraev stated that with this aim Alkhanov had recently reorganized the Security Council of Chechny into the Council on Economic and Public Security.

“One of the aims of the reorganized Council will be the struggle against abductions”, Isaraev said.

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