Accessibility links

Chechen Office Of Russian Human Rights Group Trashed By Mob

  • Merhat Sharipzhan

People crowd outside the Committee Against Torture's headquarters following an attack on the premises in Grozny on June 3.

People crowd outside the Committee Against Torture's headquarters following an attack on the premises in Grozny on June 3.

An angry mob attacked the Grozny office of the Committee Against Torture (KPP) on June 3, forcing employees of the prominent Russian human rights group to escape from the windows of the second-floor office.

The KPP posted videos and photos of the attack in the Chechen capital on social media.

One showed a group of men -- some of them masked and wielding hammers, iron bars, and mallets -- smashing a vehicle parked outside the building that houses the office.

Another showed a masked man standing on an office balcony tearing down security cameras to the cheers and whistles of a large crowd gathered below.

Pictures tweeted by the KPP included one showing the trashed interior of the office...

...a close-up of the man on the balcony...

...and another showing a group of men standing in the smoke-filled entrance to the office.

In a running Twitter commentary during the attack, KPP leader Igor Kalyapin wrote that his attempts to call the Grozny police had gone unanswered and that he had informed Mikhail Fedotov, chairman of Russia's Human Rights Council, about the attack.

The group gathered outside the office held umbrellas and posters saying: "Dadayev Is A Victim Of Lawlessness!" and asking "Why Do The Kalyapins Keep Mum?"

Dzhambulat Dadayev, a resident of Grozny, was killed by a law enforcement group from Russia's Stavropol region in the Chechen capital on April 19.

The killing led Chechnya's Kremlin-backed leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, to issue an order for his law enforcement officers to "shoot to kill" security forces from other parts of Russia that conduct operations in Chechnya without Grozny's consent.

Russia's Interior Ministry denounced Kadyrov's order, calling it "unacceptable for the leader of the Chechen Republic."

The Chechen government-controlled Grozny-TV state television channel reported on June 3 that "public organizations picketed" the Chechen capital's KPP office "to protest against the politicization of human rights activities."

In December, Kalyapin criticized Kadyrov for saying that the families of men involved in a deadly attack on Grozny that month should be expelled from Chechnya and their homes destroyed.

Kadyrov later accused Kalyapin of receiving money from Western intelligence services and giving it to the group involved in the December attack.

On December 11, several Kadyrov supporters pelted Kalyapin and his colleagues with eggs, disrupting a press conference in Moscow in which Kalyapin was speaking against the Chechen leader's order to impose collective punishment against the relatives of the alleged militants.

On December 13, the KPP office in Grozny, was set on fire by unknown arsonists.

In mid-December, the U.S. State Department, the European Union, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch urged Russian authorities to ensure the safety of all human rights defenders in Chechnya and across Russia after the reports about the KPP's ordeal.

In January, Kalyapin announced that his group would fight the "foreign agent" label designation imposed on the group by the Russian government.

In a telephone interview with RFE/RL's Current Time program, Kalyapin confirmed that his group received financial support from foreign sources but said it had never been involved in politics.