Russian President Vladimir Putin has dismissed
Major-General Sergei Bobrov, whom he had named less than eight months ago to head the Chechnya branch of the Investigative Committee of the Prosecutor-General’s Office for a period of two years. No reason for Bobrov’s premature dismissal decision was given. According to unconfirmed reports
, Bobrov fell foul of senior Chechen police and security officials whose misdeeds he had been tasked by Putin with investigating.
One such report alleges that Bobrov opened up to 40 criminal cases against close associates of Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov
. Writing in his blog, Kadyrov noted that “many rumors” about Bobrov had been published in the press, but that he would not comment on them. Kadyrov also affirmed that Putin must have had a valid reason to dismiss Bobrov.
Whether or not the report of Bobrov’s actions in Chechnya is indeed true, the Chechen Interior Ministry has a track record of successfully thwarting Investigative Committee initiatives. In April 2010, leading Russian human rights campaigners addressed an open letter to then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev reaffirming their concern at what they termed the “almost total impunity” enjoyed by the Chechen Interior Ministry despite “the grossest and most blatant”
human rights violations.
The signatories referred specifically to a letter addressed by Bobrov’s predecessor, Viktor Ledenev, to Chechen Interior Minister Ruslan Alkhanov, complaining that Alkhanov’s subordinates routinely failed to respond to his requests for assistance and cooperation.
In June 2011, one of the signatories of the letter to Medvedev, Inter-Regional Committee against Torture head Igor Kalyapin, described
how the head of the Chechen Interior Ministry special purpose detachment (OMON), Alikhan Tsekayev, sabotaged a probe by Investigative Committee personnel of the circumstances of the abduction from his own home in December 2009 of Islam Umarpashayev.
The Investigative Committee is, moreover, not the only law enforcement body whose activities the Chechen Interior Ministry is seemingly intent on controlling. It recently sought to coerce Chechen Supreme Court judge Vakhid Abubakarov to sentence for allegedly trying to kill a police officer a man who initially pleaded guilty, but subsequently said he admitted to that crime only under torture.
Abubakarov recused himself from the case and has since fled Chechnya. Russia’s Presidential Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights is looking into the incident.