Extrajudicial executions in Chechnya
Journalists of independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta have kept an eye on human right violations in Chechnya, a republic in Russia’s North Caucasus.
Novaya Gazeta writes that the local authorities have punished their opponents by unjustly imprisoning them, torturing and even executing them, adding that the reprisal is often ordered by the head of the republic of Chechnya himself, Ramzan Kadyrov, whose orders are carried out by police without preliminary investigation or trial.
Novaya Gazeta reported the execution of at least 13 people who were detained in the Chechen town of Shali in 2017. In the late evening of January 26, the detainees were taken to police barrack No. 6.
In the basement of the building, while the policemen played tennis, the detainees were made to sit on their haunches.
One by one, they were taken into an adjacent room to be killed.
After the first of the detainees had been shot, the officers decided “not to stain the room with blood, because the soldiers of the regiment train here”.
Each of the others was made to lie face down on the floor, and a rope was slid under his neck. Four people would hold his hands and feet down, as one of the officers would then step on the back of the detainee’s head and tighten the rope around his neck.
How many people were executed?
Two years ago, Novaya Gazeta published a list of 27 residents of Chechnya, who had been detained on suspicion of allegedly being a part of illegal armed groups. All of them perished in extrajudicial execution, Novaya Gazeta writes.
Novaya cites two documents obtained from a source in the law enforcement structures of Chechnya as evidence of the killings.
The first series of documents consisted of photos and data (names, surnames and intelligence information) of Chechen residents who had taken part in an attack on a police officer in Grozny in December of 2016 and were detained shortly afterwards. 12 of them were listed on the ‘to-be-executed’ list obtained by Novaya Gazeta.
The second document included photographs of and data about 67 people who were detained during police raids in the Kurchaloevsky and Shalinsky regions of Chechnya in early January of 2017. 14 of them also featured on the ‘to-be-executed‘ list. One of the people who would go on to be eventually executed wasn’t mentioned in either document.
The execution took place on the night of January 26.
What was the law enforcement’s response?
Three months before publishing the report, Novaya Gazeta’s journalists presented the list of 27 to the Russian Investigative Committee, demanding that it check the information. However, the committee refused to start a criminal investigation.
Law enforcers didn’t deem it necessary to even question the journalists who had provided the information about the killings. Nor did they confiscate the two documents that proved the Chechen police had detained everybody on the “shooting list”.
How and when did the detentions take place?
Massive police-raids took place in Chechnya between January 9-12, 2017. The police were allegedly looking for members of an illegal armed group. The local and central media covered the crackdown extensively. Dozens of people were eventually detained, however most of them had never been involved in any illegal activities.
The criminal cases brought against “members of the group” bear many signs of falsification, says Novaya Gazeta. All the detainees were said to have “admitted their guilt”, but now it is known that the confessions were just blank sheets of paper.