Amnesty International has called on the Russian authorities to disclose the whereabouts of a Chechen refugee who was forcibly disappeared hours after being deported to Russia from Poland last week.
The London-based human rights watchdog made the appeal in a statement on September 3, three days after the Polish authorities deported Azamat Baiduyev to Russia on August 31.
At around midnight on September 1, armed men wearing Federal Security Service and Interior Ministry insignia came to the house where Baiduyev was staying in the Chechen village of Shalazhi, Amnesty quoted eyewitnesses as saying.
Baiduyev was taken to an unknown location with no explanation, and his family was refused information about his fate and whereabouts, the group added.
"There could hardly be a better illustration of why it is not safe to return Chechen refugees to Russia," said Denis Krivosheyev, acting regional director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.
Krivosheyev said Baiduyev should be immediately released, unless he is “reasonably suspected of any recognizable crime.”
Baiduyev reportedly received asylum in Poland in 2007 but later moved to Belgium, where he was detained in 2017 in connection with an alleged involvement in planning terrorist activities.
Belgian authorities did not charge Bayduev with any crime, and deported him to Poland. In April this year, the Polish authorities placed Bayduev in a deportation center for irregular migrants, before deporting him to Russia.
By returning Bayduev to a country where “his life and safety is at risk,” Poland was “clearly in breach of its international obligations,” Krivosheev said.
“This chilling incident is part of a well-documented pattern of horrendous human rights violations in Chechnya,” he added.
On August 30, 15 members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) enacted the Vienna Human Dimension Mechanism, requesting concrete information concerning human rights violations in Chechnya and demanding effective investigations.
The delegations of 13 European states, the United States, and Canada cited “alleged worrying actions taken by Chechen authorities against persons based on their perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as human right defenders, lawyers, independent media, civil society organizations, and others.”
Russia’s “apparent unwillingness or inability to address these serious human rights violations has contributed to a climate of impunity for authorities in Chechnya in perpetrating such violations,” they said.