Ramazan Dzhalaldinov, who fled his native village of Kenkhi in southeastern Chechnya after harassment that followed his video appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin in mid-April to take action against corrupt local officials, has finally been constrained to retract that criticism as “lies” and offer apologies to acting Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov.
On May 30, Kadyrov posted on Instagram video footage of Dzhalaldinov admitting that he had made “a very big mistake.”
Dzhalaldinov, who like most residents of Kenkhi is a member of Chechnya’s tiny Avar minority, reportedly plans to return to Kenkhi with his wife and daughters, who joined him in Daghestan after the family home in the village was torched during the night of May 12-13. Dzhalaldinov was quoted on May 21 by the independent Daghestani newspaper Novoe Delo as saying he “does not regret” having gone public with his criticisms of local officials and will “continue to fight for our rights.”
The previous day, a public meeting was convened in Kenkhi at which residents publicly condemned Dzhalaldinov and denounced his criticisms as lies. In what appeared to be a campaign carefully choreographed by authorities, the residents further accused Dzhalaldinov of trying at the behest of “Russia’s enemies” to sow discord between local Avars and Chechens.
It is not clear what induced Dzhalaldinov to capitulate.
Meanwhile, family members of a second man who dared publicly criticize the Chechen authorities were released last week after being detained and threatened with reprisals. On May 23, Rustam Dzhabrailov, police chief in the district of Urus-Martan southwest of the Chechen capital, Grozny, detained the elderly parents and the brother and sister of Mikail Malitsayev, who had publicly denounced the lack of elementary human rights in Chechnya.
Dzhalaldinov's family home was torched during the night of May 12-13.
Malitsayev, who is in his mid-30s, left Russia in 2009 and successfully applied for political asylum in Germany. He is now a German citizen. He had reportedly been denounced under torture by someone who falsely accused him of links with the North Caucasus insurgency, and was himself said to have been detained and brutally tortured by security personnel subordinate to then-acting Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov, whose identity he subsequently revealed to RFE/RL’s North Caucasus Service.
Some two weeks ago, Malitsayev posted video footage on his Facebook page accusing Kadyrov of conducting a policy of state terror against the Chechen people. According to the insurgency website kavkazcenter.com, Kadyrov’s henchmen demanded that Malitsayev apologize personally to Kadyrov. When Malitsayev refused to do so, Dzhabrailov took his family into police custody and had them telephone Malitsayev and tell him they would be made to suffer unless he complied, which he again refused to do. Instead, he posted a further address to Kadyrov saying that the harassment meted out to his relatives only served to substantiate his initial criticisms of the total lack of respect for human rights in Chechnya.
After RFE/RL, and then the North Caucasus insurgency website Kavkazcenter, publicized Malitsayev’s case, Malitsayev’s parents were released on May 24, and his brother and sister late on May 25, but only after they publicly disowned him.