A native of Chechnya who claimed in 2013 that he was tortured by police has managed to narrowly escape transfer to Grozny, the Chechen capital, following his release from custody in Russia's Bryansk region, a rights group says.
The Committee for the Prevention of Torture said on June 6 that Murad Amriyev, a former world champion in mixed martial arts, evaded law-enforcement officials from Chechnya who had blocked exits from a prosecutor's office where he had been taken and were demanding he be handed over to them.
Amriyev was detained by the Bryansk police on June 4 while travelling by train to Moscow and was expected to be transferred to the Chechen capital, Grozny. The rights group has warned that he could face abuse, torture, or even death if he is returned to Chechnya.
Lawyer Pyotr Zaikin told RFE/RL that after police formally released Amriyev on June 6, his client was brought to the transport prosecutor's office. He said lawyers, supporters, and activists from the Committee for the Prevention of Torture refused to hand Amriyev to the Chechen law-enforcement officers who were demanding his handover.
Taking advantage of the confusion as lawyers, activists, local police, and Chechen authorities were heatedly discussing the situation, Amriyev slipped out of the building and was safely spirited out of Bryansk, Oleg Abdrakhmanov of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture told RFE/RL.
The effort to take Amriyev to Chechnya reignited questions about the reach of Kremlin-backed Chechen leader's Ramzan Kadyrov's security forces, who have raised concerns several times in the past by carrying out operations in Moscow and other areas far from Chechnya.
Amriyev told the antitorture committee in 2013 that he had been kidnapped by police in Chechnya who tortured him for two days, hanging him in handcuffs and applying electric shocks to his body.
He said at the time that the aim of the police was to force his older brother to return to Russia from Germany, where he had lived for many years. A high-ranking Chechen police official claimed that Amriyev's brother was involved in an alleged plot to kill him.
After Amriyev was released, he fled Russia. However, as he still holds a Russian passport he returned to Russia and was on his way to Moscow, where he planned to collect papers necessary to prolong his visa in a foreign country, when he was detained.
Chechen authorities issued an international arrest warrant for Amriyev in February, claiming that he used forged documents.
Rights activists say that Kadyrov, who was appointed to head Chechnya by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2007, rules through repressive measures and has created a climate of impunity for security forces in the province in the North Caucasus.
They claim that he bears responsibility for abuses including kidnappings, disappearances, torture, and killings of political opponents.
Kremlin critics contend that Putin has given Kadyrov free rein because it relies on him to keep a lid on separatism and insurgent violence after two devastating post-Soviet wars in the region.
With reporting by Novaya Gazeta