Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov has indirectly implicated Igor Kalyapin, head of Russia's Committee to Prevent Torture, in organizing last week's attack by insurgents in Grozny in which 14 police and security personnel were killed and 36 wounded.
In an Instagram post on December 10, Kadyrov claimed that a man by the name of Kalyapin channeled from Western intelligence services to Akhmat Umarov, the brother of former Caucasus Emirate head Doku Umarov, the funds to finance the attack by insurgents on Grozny. Kadyrov demanded a probe to determine whether the Kalyapin in question and the Kalyapin "who came to the defense of bandits and their relatives" are one and the same person.
On December 9, Igor Kalyapin criticized as illegal and a violation of human rights and the presumption of innocence Kadyrov's orders in the wake of the Grozny fighting that the families of known insurgents be deported from Chechnya and their homes burned to the ground. Kalyapin formally asked Russian Prosecutor-General Yury Chaika and Investigative Committee head Aleksandr Bastrykin to rule on whether Kadyrov had exceeded his authority by issuing such orders.
As of December 10, seven homes had reportedly been torched, including that in the village of Katyr-Yurt in Achkhoi Martan district of the family of Aslan Byutukayev (nom de guerre Amir Khamzat), the head of the Chechen insurgency wing. According to one participant, it was Byutukayev who gave the orders for the raid.
Amnesty International has criticized those reprisals, saying that "punishing the relatives of those suspected of involvement in crimes is a flagrant violation of international law. Nothing can justify acts of collective punishment." John Dalhuisen, director of AI's Europe and Central Asia Program, said the Russian authorities "must ensure an independent and impartial investigation is conducted into the burning of the houses and bring those responsible to justice in fair trials."
In fact, however, there are already signs of a move afoot to legalize reprisals against fighters' relatives. "Obshchaya gazeta" reports that lawmaker Roman Khudyakov has submitted to the State Duma a draft law under which the relatives of people who commit "crimes against security" could be prosecuted. The paper quoted Chechen Duma deputy Khozh Magomed Vakhayev, who is first deputy chairman of the Duma's Committee on Security, as citing the Israeli practice of deporting the relatives of "terrorists." Vakhayev said that if Kadyrov asks him to draft such a law, he will of course do so as "there is no alternative."
Chechen parliament speaker Dukvakha Abdurakhmanov for his part appealed to Kalyapin to retract his "populist" request to Chaika and Bastrykin and formally apologize to Kadyrov. Abdurakhmanov alleged that Kalyapin was motivated not by the need to protect the rights of those whose homes were destroyed but by the desire for publicity. He further argued that "the authors of such statements are not taking a stand against terrorism but against Ramzan Kadyrov, the man who is leading the fight against terrorism."
Writing on Facebook Kalyapin dismissed Kadyrov's Instagram post as "ravings" and reaffirmed his conviction that Kadyrov's calls for reprisals are not only illegal but will "play into the hands of the ideologists of terrorism in the Caucasus." At the same time, Kalyapin acknowledged that Kadyrov's allegations are so cautiously formulated that there is no point in trying to sue him for libel.
Kalyapin may well have incurred Kadyrov's displeasure by his efforts earlier this year in defense of Assembly of Peoples of the North Caucasus head Ruslan Kutayev, who was arrested and sentenced on a trumped-up charge of possession of drugs after he defied Kadyrov's injunction that there should be no formal events to mark the 70th anniversary in February of the deportation of the entire Chechen and Ingush nations on orders from then Soviet leader Josef Stalin.
-- Liz Fuller