Relatives of Chechnya car accident victims ask republic head to 'forgive' culprit – his cousin
Relatives of the three victims of a car accident in Grozny have publicly asked the President of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, not to punish the alleged perpetrator – his cousin.
The accident occurred in Grozny on the night of 5 December. The driver of a Mercedes crashed into a VAZ-2107 car, killing all the passengers inside it, including a two-year-old child. The driver of the Mercedes was not injured.
Caucasian Knot reports that social media users have fingered the culprit as President Ramzan Kadyrov’s cousin, the head of the Shali district, Turpal-Ali Ibrahimov. However, the Chechen Interior Ministry has denied this information, saying that the cause of the accident was another person and a criminal case has been launched against him.
Relatives of the deceased met with with religious leader, Kadyrov’s adviser on religious affairs, Adam Shahidov, on 13 December. At the meeting, the relatives of the victims of the accident publicly appealed to Kadyrov not to punish Turpal-Ali Ibrahimov.
A video recording of the relatives’ request was posted on 15 December on Shahidov’s Instagram account: in the description of the post he openly acknowledges the official’s involvement in the accident. Kadyrov’s advisor writes that he welcomes the appeal of the relatives of the victims, and hopes that the head of the republic will respond to their request.
The Caucasian Knot writes that “appeals for forgiveness [regularly heard] in Chechnya are in many cases non-voluntary”, however, the publication also noted that it does not have information that the request of the relatives of the victims of the accident to forgive the perpetrator could have been caused by coercion.
Since 7 December, residents of Chechnya have been distributing on WhatsApp a recording of a speech made by Kadyrov made in front of his subordinates, during which he demands that the perpetrators of the accident be punished regardless of their relationship with him, their positions and titles.
Residents of Chechnya have reason not to trust official reports regarding certain events in which high-ranking officials and people from Kadyrov’s entourage are involved, said one of the employees of local public organization Aslan.
“People do not believe because there are precedents for this”, Aslan told a Caucasian Knot correspondent.
He spoke about several fatal cases of car accidents that were caused by people from Kadyrov’s inner circle, and which were not officially reported.
Among such car accidents was a case in the Gudermes district.
“Then, too, there were victims, and the culprit himself suffered serious injuries and was treated abroad. This fact is hidden. Now here we have an accident in Grozny, there are victims, the authorities were silent for several days, and only on the third day gave their version of events. Naturally, this causes mistrust”, said an NGO employee.
“Systematic silence on problems and violations of human rights in Chechnya has meant that residents of the republic do not trust the authorities, and do not expect reliable information from them,” commented Russian political scientist Dmitri Oreshkin.
However, political analyst Alexei Malakshenko says the lack of independent media outlets has forced Chechen residents to trust any information that might seem credible.