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17.12.2008

Fabrication of criminal cases over Islamic extremism

   

“Physical methods give more result - shall we go to the Department for Fighting Organized Crime?”

In Kazan (capital of Tatarstan within the Russian Federation) on 10 December Renat Amirov, b. 1982 was detained and taken to the offices of the Federal Security Service [FSB] for Tatarstan.

In the complaint addressed to the Civic Assistance Committee, Amirov describes how during a seven-hour talk with two FSB officers, as well as a police captain, attempts were made to persuade him to work as an agent for them among young Muslims in Kazan. He was assured of all types of benefits “you won’t be affected by any crisis”

Renat says that he was threatened with criminal prosecution and imprisonment if he refused to collaborate with them.  The young man who is a follower of Islam was shown photographs demonstrating that his flat was under video surveillance and all aspects of his life, including intimate ones, were being recorded. They also complained about a statement Renat made to the prosecutor’s office regarding torture which he was subjected to by two of the same officers – Safin and Ismagilov, together with other Security Service officers when first detained in May this year.

Having realized that persuasion and threats were not working, the officers concluded that physical methods of persuasion were more effective and suggested that in the Department for Fighting Organized Crime [UBOP] he would “think quicker”. Around 20.00 they let him go home to think over the offer saying: “Don’t try to run away from us, we’ll catch you whatever.”

Renat Amirov had already informed the Civic Assistance Committee in the summer that on 16 May he and his wife Dina had been detained after a search of their flat as part of a criminal investigation over the banned organization “Hizb ut-Tahrir” in which Dina is a suspect. Then Dina was taken to the FSB, while Renat was held for around a day and a half in UBOP. He says that during the first several hours Safin and Ismagilov interrogated him about his religious beliefs and his attitude to “Khizb ut-Takhrir”. Since Renat denied that either he or his wife were involved in any terrorist and extremist organizations and demanded to be told where Dina was and what was happening to her, they began trying to scare him with the threat of prison sentences for both him and his wife if he didn’t provide a “full rundown on all male Muslims and didn’t tell them all he knew about “Hizb ut-Tahrir”

Renat says that when that also didn’t help, they resorted to torture, including beatings, being stretched out, and having a polyethylene bag put over his head obstructing access to air. They then forced him to write a statement that no physical pressure had been brought to bear and that in the evening he had supposedly been allowed to go home to sleep. Around 22.00 instead of going home, he was taken for a medical certificate without even having his handcuffs removed. Renat’s complaints of pain in his hand and of an injured finger were explained by an officer to the doctor as being because he “had shown resistance when being arrested.”

After the medical check was over he was taken back to the UBOP where he says that “all night (from around midnight to 6.00, with breaks for prayer and taking me to the toilet, they beat and tortured me, threatened to rape me, trying to force out of me testimony against myself, my wife and other Muslims whom I know and those I don’t know.”  Renat describes the numerous forms of torture used which included handcuffing him behind his back and dangling him headfirst, suffocating him by placing a bag over his head, or with a gasmask, and then blowing a cigarette into the tube. He passed out for some time.  One of the men carrying out the torture told him “If you’re silent I’ll beat harder. You realize that you won’t hold out through this night, I’ll break you down. And then a new shift will arise, having had enough sleep and will get to work on you with new energy, and we’ll go home to sleep. Understand? Do what you’re told.”

Renat says that in the morning he was taken to another room and allowed to sleep, sitting at the table. Then once again they began persuading him to collaborate and to earn money for it. There were threats, but no torture this time. In the end, they forced him to write another statement that after the interrogation on 16 May as a witness Renat had returned home and the next day had voluntarily appeared for a second interrogation, and he had been taken again for a medical certificate. This time the exhausted young man said that he had no complaints, after which UBOP Ismagilov let him go home with the words “We’ll see each other again.”

The next meeting was on 10 December and involved the threats and attempts to get him to become an agent, described above. The Civic Assistance Committee have made public Renat Amirov’s complaint.  It ends with the words: “Please help me! I am afraid that they will take me away, and using torture will beat out of me testimony and a confession to things that I didn’t do”.

 

Yelena Ryabinina, Civic Assistance Committee

….. 

(text slightly abridged)

 

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