Thursday, October 02, 2014


North Caucasus

One Chechen's Cry From A Russian Jail -- 'Do These People Have Hearts?'

"For three days they held me in a cell -- they beat me, tortured me. When they weren't able to make me confess to any crimes, they said: 'Just confess to anything. It doesn't matter to us...'" (file photo)
"For three days they held me in a cell -- they beat me, tortured me. When they weren't able to make me confess to any crimes, they said: 'Just confess to anything. It doesn't matter to us...'" (file photo)
By Amina Umarova
One day in early 2004, a Chechen man was stopped outside the gate of his home in the western part of the republic. The security forces took him away and thus began his nightmarish journey through the justice system of Russia's restive, war-torn North Caucasus.

Imran -- who asked that his full name not be used out of fear of reprisals from the Russian authorities -- is now serving an 18-year sentence on a collage of terrorism-related charges in a prison in Russia's far-northern Arkhangelsk region.

Speaking by telephone exclusively to RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service, Imran claimed he had a good idea what was coming when the security forces took him away that day because they'd already come for him before.

"The first time they picked me up during a sweep in 2003, in September, at six in the morning," he said. "They were Russian troops. For three days they held me in a cell -- they beat me, tortured me. When they weren't able to make me confess to any crimes, they said: 'Just confess to anything. It doesn't matter to us -- it only matters that you confess.'"

According to Imran, he was released after those three days, but the authorities held on to his passport. The second time was far worse than the first:

"For 10 days they beat me," he said. "They tortured me until I lost consciousness. If my relatives hadn't found out where I was being held, they would have simply killed me. Then they handed me over to prosecutors. When they did that, I saw that my passport was in the hand of the investigator. They had prepared the case against me in advance."

Imran admits he fought in the first Chechen independence war in the early 1990s, but says he had lived peacefully since that uprising ended in 1996. He says that he wanted to leave the war-ravaged republic but that he had to remain to take care of his elderly mother.

'Sufficient Proof Of Torture'

Imran's case has been taken up by local legal-rights activists with the Russian Justice Initiative (RJI), who have filed a complaint on his behalf with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Anastasia Kushleiko, RJI's legal director, confirmed the details of Imran's case. She believes the ECHR should call into question the entire prosecution.

"In Imran's case, his entire sentence is ultimately based on confessions that were obtained as a result of the torture he underwent, repeatedly, beginning right after he was detained and continuing during the investigation," she said. "And there is sufficient proof of this -- actually, I'd say more than sufficient, very strong evidence that he was tortured."

Activists claim that the Chechen and Russian authorities have carried out a policy of removing as many men from Chechnya as possible through questionable legal processes.

The office of Chechnya's human rights ombudsman says 20,000 Chechens have been sent to serve prison terms in other parts of Russia for "security reasons," while independent activists say that figure is more like 30,000.

The case against Imran was also based largely on the testimony of a boy who was 16 at the time.

Imran says when the boy was called to testify at his trial, he recanted his evidence, saying he'd been tortured and only agreed to the statement to save his own life. That witness was then sentenced to seven years in prison as Imran's co-conspirator.

Evidence Discrepancy

Among the charges against Imran and the boy was that they carried out a bombing in May 2003. However, the charge sheet also said that Imran illegally acquired the explosives for that attack in June 2003 -- one month after the blast. In Imran's words, when his lawyer asked the judge about this discrepancy, the judge was scornful.

"The judge answered my lawyer, laughing in his face: 'If we let him go, then we'll have to let the boy go too. We'd have to admit our mistakes, and we don't want to admit them,'" Imran said.

Repeated requests to the office of Chechnya's human rights ombudsman to comment on this case went unanswered.

Imran's 18-year sentence on a hodge-podge of charges based on questionable evidence stands in stark contrast to the few cases of Russian officers prosecuted for crimes committed in the North Caucasus.

Russian Army Colonel Yury Budanov, for instance, was sentenced in 2003 to 10 years in prison for raping and murdering a teenage Chechen women in 2000.

Budanov was granted early release in 2009 -- and was murdered on a Moscow street in 2011. A monument has been erected in his honor at the site.

Now all Imran's hopes for justice lie in Strasbourg. But lawyer Kushleiko laments that the wheels of justice at the European Court of Human Rights turn achingly slowly.
Anastasia Kushleiko, legal director of the RJIAnastasia Kushleiko, legal director of the RJI
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Anastasia Kushleiko, legal director of the RJI
Anastasia Kushleiko, legal director of the RJI

"The problem with the European Court of Human Rights is that all cases of this type take a very long time to be processed," she said. "For example, Imran's complaint was filed in 2007 and it has not yet been communicated. That means the court has not yet begun considering it and hasn't issued an inquiry to the [Russian] government that we could discuss. The complaint remains with the court. We know that it has been received, but unfortunately such cases take a very long time."

In the meantime, Imran waits in his far-northern prison. He says there are about 20 Chechen prisoners serving time with him and that they are poorly treated compared to Russian prisoners. He claims that their sentences are longer and that they regularly spend time in solitary confinement for little or no reason.

No Hope Of Parole

Imran says his relatives are technically allowed to visit him once a year, but that he doesn't encourage them to make the trip because prison officials generally find excuses to cancel or postpone the visit.

Although Imran believes he is technically eligible to apply for parole after serving 12 years, he has no hope it would be granted.

"With the [baseless] violations that I have and which all the Chechens here have, we will never in our lives see any parole," he says. "No matter how hard I tried to be a model prisoner, they won't let me get by without violations. They just make them up -- it is obvious what they are doing.

"If you don't break any rules, they just pin something on you. Not just once, but over and over. Will I ever get parole? There is not a single Chechen here without violations -- we all have reports, we have all been in solitary."

Imran has a lot of time to think about what has happened to him since the day more than eight years ago when the soldiers came to his house. He has also though about the thousands of young Chechens who have stories just like his.

"They sent us away to Russian prisons for 15, 20 years for nothing," he said. "Who is going to pay attention to this? Why doesn't anyone do anything? And I wonder -- do these people have hearts? Do they have any honor?

"Could it be that their mothers gave birth to them without hearts? I think about this a lot. Can such injustice really exist -- can't something be done about it? We are waiting for a miracle. We are hoping. But…"

RFE/RL correspondent Robert Coalson contributed to this report
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Mahmoud from: Iran
July 23, 2012 13:54
Russians are pieces of shit. Look at how they treat their own, and I am not even talking about Chechens or other Caucasians:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNAYJhOWpiI
In Response

by: Abubakr from: Egypt
July 23, 2012 17:42
Wow, I just watched the video. If they treat Russians like that. How do they treat Chechens? Reread the line: "Chechen prisoners serving time with him and that they are poorly treated compared to Russian prisoners." Time to welcome our Russian guests with their way of treating people.
In Response

by: Kan Urban from: London
July 24, 2012 11:16
Mahmoud from Iran--- Look who is talking? Have u seen Iranian prison's? U will say ''o they are 'mullah-hizbulloi' not real Iranians'' And who are the real Iranians?? Opposition?? MEK who attacked their own country and committed genocide of Kurds?? Or the current 'Green's' who support Ravsanjani -who's daughter owns half of Canada because of stolen Iranian money and in 10 years of Ravsanjani's rule their was not opened a single hospital...let alone nuclear power and nanotechnology. So, just talk about your own country and leave Russian alone.
In Response

by: American from: USA
July 24, 2012 14:15
Oh, I am sure Iranian prison is nowhere near Russian standard. Be careful or you will get the disease too. Also, I hope Iranians will stop their nuclear cooperation with Russia or they will have another Chernobyl at their hands.

by: Ismail from: Egypt
July 23, 2012 14:18
"Russian Army Colonel Yury Budanov, for instance, was sentenced in 2003 to 10 years in prison for raping and murdering an 18-year-old Chechen women in 2000"
As far as I remember the Chechen girl was 17 when she was raped and choked. Please do some research on her date of birth. Even if she was 18 who calls an unmarried girl of 18, woman? Are you trying to cover his crime? Shame, shame, shame.
In Response

by: American from: USA
July 24, 2012 14:17
Europeans are trying to please their master Putin.

by: Muhajir-Amin from: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
July 23, 2012 17:22
"Budanov was granted early release in 2009 -- and was murdered on a Moscow street in 2011. A monument has been erected in his honor at the site."
How do you erect a monument for baby-killers and rapists? Those Russians are sick.
In Response

by: Alex from: LA
July 23, 2012 21:26
Well at least they erected a monument to a man that killed one innocent person. Your kind erect monument and names streets after them when they blow themselves up killing innocent people, so Russians think a blood monument for a bloody monument. Go kneel to your sultan and wait to be called upon to die for expansion of Wahhabi way of life, your just a subject not even a citizen.
In Response

by: Frank
July 24, 2012 05:22
Muhajir-Amin,

Nowhere nears as sick as your country, which was well represented in the 9/11 terrorist attack.

RFE/RL shows how perverse it is by approving some of the comments at this thread.

FYI, the most major Russian cities are far more humane on a number of social issues when compared to the likes of Saudi Arabia and Chechnya.
In Response

by: Anonymous
July 24, 2012 05:48

İf you are weak, do not fight. İf you fight, do not cry. İf you cry, do not say i am a man. İf you are a man, lets make enemy cry.

In Response

by: American from: USA
July 24, 2012 14:25
Alex, you sound very Russian. Go back if you do not like our way of life. Frank, it is not Saudi Arabia who attacked the USA. Saudi Arabia is an ally of the USA, or are you going to blame whole Mexico for drugs which killed tens of thousands of Americans? Cheer up my French buddy, be brave.
In Response

by: American from: USA
July 24, 2012 14:16
I agree. That is sick.

by: george from: USA
July 24, 2012 00:31
It seems to me the "soviet" systems of repression live on.
To watch and read how their "legal" system operates, how their investigators "work", Stalin and Hitler would be so proud of them.
Then take their blue camoed goon squads, bully's and criminals to the one.
Yeah I am glad we let so few of these folk immigrate to America.
We have enough foolish, ignorant criminals as it is.
In Response

by: American from: USA
July 24, 2012 14:20
Few? 1 mil of them lives in NY!
In Response

by: American from: usa
July 25, 2012 03:17
? Give them two generations of offspring, and they'll be eating hotdogs and drinking koolaid with everyone else. Russian immigrants came in the past, and the only lasting impact they've made are onion churches and vodka.
In Response

by: Anonymous
July 25, 2012 10:51
American from: usa. Is that the reason why we have 18 milion of registered adults in the USA who are alcohol-dependent? I ain't talking about teenagers yet. About 100,000 of them die every year. You sound like a democrat. Let me remind you about those peaceful commrades who robbed the US Bank, the Bank of NY maybe Anna Chapman helped them.
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
July 27, 2012 20:11
Your name must be in reverse, egroeg, and it is gross.
Did they make you slave of Nazi-Jesuit CIA boss?
Have you express loyalty to Hiler, be proud
That Stalin was worse than him dood?

Russians killed people since 9 A.D..
Powerless advisor, it's all Stalin did.

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
July 26, 2012 02:39
Chechens are as humans as all of us.
They are victims of Russian lies and bust.
They made refugees people like Kantemirov.
But Russia, Vlasov and SS - tried make slaves
Out of Cechens - "macho fighting tigers" Kadyrov
Doesn't justify their men, women and children pains.

by: Russians sided with Nazis from: Dallas Texas
July 26, 2012 09:15
Russians today are acting just like they did during the Soviet days.

Read the book Gulag Archaepelago where Russian Gulag concentration camp guards would tell their prisoners to "confess to anything"

Lets not forget that the Russians sided with Nazi Germany as per their Molotov-Ribbentrop Russia-Germany friendship pact to divide up Europe together.

Russia says today it was a "non-aggression" pact which is a lie to cover up Russia's cozy friendship with Nazi Germany in 1939.

Google "The Soviet Story" to see the love affair Russia had with Nazi Germany.
In Response

by: Anonymous
July 26, 2012 17:29
True. England fought Germany alone for 2 years. Russians hoped that war between Germany and England will exhaust both countries and then the Commie "liberators" will come and "free" the West from "tyranny" of capitalism. Thank God it didn't work. Hitler took a suicidal step and attack Russian Nazis.

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
July 28, 2012 03:05
I can only offer my experience in USSR, but reveiling.
Last time, in 1970-th, GRU and Spetcnaz kidnapped me,
In capital of Moldova, brought me to Sea and were drawning,
Many times in a row - brake to a Rusian slave - for plagiarizing.
They left for night, saying in the morning they kill me if I refused it.

It was in Bugaz. I was tired brake through an older but vired man,
Cornering me in a cabin with a table, so I grabbed a table knife,
Like I meant it, and aimed it at his neck, just scratch his skin.
He got scared and lost the table, so I asked the young one
That leured me into kidnapping, put towel at the scratch.

I ran through empty seson few miles to a near telephone.
Police and Emergency came, but transferred me to KGB.
KGB brought me to their secret prison in Moldova Capital,
Botanica district, populated, mostly, by Russian ocupiers.
They did endless torture series, phisical and psychologic.

Their goal was make victim accept their version in courts.
One of phisical torture was to hit with clubs foot's bottom,
Mocking that it is how Russia makes a serf out of a Noble,
Turning brain into a jelle of pain. Psychologic set-ups goal
Was to make false trial to verify if the victim indeed broken.

I tried to withdraw, but they cought me during the false trial.
I denied their charges - they laughed, starting new tortures.
Next time I was carefull, convincing inquisition of Russians
That they found psychologic key to me - name of my father,
Killed in WW2, that was considered a holly honor in USSR.

During real trial, recognizing relatives, when a judge asked
For my response to allegations, I woke-up and told the truth.
It was, thought, the bad side effect - using same psychology
They broke son of a famous Georgian writer - Gamsahurdia,
Making him play craizy on TV, stambling on "my great father".

It may be another bad side effect from my comments above.
Bechtel, CIA, and Kaizer types of inquisition might uprgade it
To the level of what I overcome to get me or others to inslave.

Don't believe it! I am innocent and don't believe otherwise - if
I would agree with any slender! As they murdered my mother
7/7/2012 they blackmail me kill her - if I refuse be plagiarized!

by: Sergey from: Suburban Chicago, IL, USA
July 28, 2012 03:18
Without denying the fact that it's amoral to imprison people without justification, it's impossible to avoid completely violation of basic human rights when dealing with Jihadist partisan-terrorist movement, be it in Russia's Chechnya/N. Caucasus, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. Russian justice system is corrupt and brutal and lots of innocent people are suffering because of it. Every country that wants to call itself civilized should do everything in its power to minimize suffering of its population even if it has to resort to force to deal with terrorist insurgency.

However, it's impossible to deny that the global Jihad is a mortal threat to everyone (Russia, US, Europe, Israel, etc.) and there is no silver bullet how to deal with this painful problem.
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
July 28, 2012 14:44
It would be true, Sergey, if it wouldn't be the Russian lie.
"Jihadist partisan-terrorist" was illusion, "oboroten's",
Since 1954-56 pact, when to resurect an Empire
Russia promissed same Quin and Bechtels,
For stash of A-bombs for ethnic Rashkas.

A-bombs be used against "non-Russians",
For would-be conquest of CIS "Republics"
And East Europe, devide it with Prussians.
"Illusion" was prepared for Western public.

Sergey remind me German nazi mentality.
Invading innocent nations with a genocide,
They called "fanatic" any victim that fought,
Or simply ran to countryside from brutality.

Nazi Germany didn't stop with it, in France,
When all were in camps, or were counted,
Gestapo and SS processed to the last one
All French to steal for Reigh and plundered.

Russia pick them at mood of its ratten soul,
If one isn't yet a slave or robbed, they grabb.
Under condititon of occupation by nazi gools
If one cry and run, Russia shot as army mob.

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