A String of abductions in the Russian Federation
On 25 April 2007, in the village of Ufa-Shigiri in the Sverdlovsk region of Russia, an Uzbek national Abdulaziz Boimatov was detained. He had been summoned to the head of the criminal police V.G. Chempalov at 13.00 that day, and was there together with a relative. At around 19.30 another person appeared in the police station whom Chempalov introduced to the relative as an officer of the Sverdlovsk regional department of the Federal Migration Service. The man took Boimatovs documents, and went off with him. According to Chempalov they were heading for Yekaterinburg where Boimatov would be taken to the FMS “to help him register documents for residence in the RF”.
Boimalov has not been seen since.
His family, having received only negative responses from the FMS and the holding facilities for vagrants, rang the airport. They were told that a certain Uzbek national Boimatov had boarded a plane for Uzbekistan, but that the first name was different.
It should be mentioned here that the RF Prosecutor General turned down a request for extradition of Boimatov from the Uzbek authorities in December 2006.
The Civic Assistance Committee has spoken to Boimatovs wife, herself a citizen of the RF Dilyara Nuriyeva. In her words: “On Wednesday Abdulaziz phoned around 15.00 and warned that hed be late. After this there was only one call – on 26 April at 9.50 when he said that he was being sent to Uzbekistan”.
There are thus serious grounds for believing that Abdulaziz Boimatov was abducted with the connivance of Russian police officers and taken against his will to Uzbekistan and handed over to the authorities.
There is further evidence corroborating this version in a letter which the Civic Assistance Committee and the Human Rights Centre “Memorial” have managed to obtain a copy of. The letter is from the head of police for the Namagansk region to the inter-district prosecutor of the Sverdlovsk region, from 29 April and asks for help in deporting Boimatov. It gives instructions for complying with the Minsk Convention regarding procedure for extradition only if they are refused permission to simply deport him. This is a flagrant violation of Russian and international norms. Moreover the correspondence was between officials at regional and district level, whereas the question of extradition can only be decided by the Prosecutor General of State signatories to the Minsk Convention.
Abdulaziz Boimatov, born in Uzbekistan in 1961 is a devout Muslim and fearing religious persecution which many of his country people were suffering, he fled to Russia in 1997. In 1998 he was declared wanted for questioning in Uzbekistan under Article 159 of the Uzbek Criminal Code “encroaching upon the constitutional system of the Republic of Uzbekistan”, one of the most typical accusations lodged against people for their religious beliefs. To avoid possible extradition, Boimatov lived under a false name.
He was detained in Spring 2006 and held in SIZO No. 1 in Yekaterinburg until the application for extradition was turned down. At that time, with the help of the lawyer found for him by the Civic Assistance Committee, he made an application for refugee status to the Sverdlovsk regional department of the Federal Migration Service.
The Human Rights Centre “Memorial” and the Civic Assistance Committee have information regarding a whole range of cases involving the abduction and unlawful expulsion and handing over to the Uzbek authorities of people persecuted in Uzbekistan for their religious beliefs.
In July 2003 in Saratov while being released from a SIZO Ruvazhdin Rakhmanov, “disappeared”, after the Russian Prosecutor General turned down the Uzbek request for his extradition. According to Uzbek human rights defenders, he was sentenced in Uzbekistan in January 2004 to 8 years imprisonment.
On 21 July 2004 masked men abducted Rakhmanovs father-in-law Mannobzhon Rakhmatuplayev, again after an extradition application had been rejected. On 20 January 2005 the Andijon Regional Court sentenced him to 16 years imprisonment. It later became known that he had been taken to Uzbekistan by plane from Samara.
On 5 October 2004 Farkhod Zupunov was “thrown out of the country” and sent to Uzbekistan. According to fellow country people, Zupunov, who was wanted in Uzbekistan and an “administrative detainee” in Nizhnevartovsk, was interrogated by officers who arrived from the Uzbekistan Secret Service. After being forcibly returned to his homeland, he was subjected to brutal torture which he attested to during his trial. He was sentenced in Andijon to 18 years imprisonment (this was later reduced to 8 years).
On 29 June 2005, while being released from a SIZO in Kazan Alisher Usmanov was abducted, taken to the airport and flown to Uzbekistan where in November that year he was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment. The Russian Federation Prosecutor General had not considered his extradition since he had Russian citizenship. Six months before the abduction the citizenship had been cancelled on the basis of falsified documents.
On 24 October 2006, as reported here, Rustam Muminov was illegally sent to Uzbekistan via Moscows Domodedova Airport. The application for his extradition had been turned down by the Prosecutor General. On 15 January 2007 he was sentenced in the city of Dzharkurgan in the Surkhandaryinsk region of Uzbekistan to 5.5 years imprisonment.
The obvious role played by the Russian Security Service in such operations must be noted. There can be no doubt that foreign nationals could not be forcibly taken across the border of the Russian Federation in a Russian airport without the connivance of the Federal Border Guard Service and the RF FSB [Security Service].
Yelena Ryabinina is Head of the Program to assist political refugees from Central Asia of the Civic Assistance Committee
[The text has been slightly abridged]