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Kyrgyz Man Who Says He Was 'Tortured' Over Deadly Magnitogorsk Blast Seeks Justice


Thirty-nine people were killed in the partial building collapse in Magnitogorsk on December 31, 2018. (file photo)
Thirty-nine people were killed in the partial building collapse in Magnitogorsk on December 31, 2018. (file photo)

MOSCOW -- A Kyrgyz citizen who spent 13 months in Russian custody over a deadly explosion that brought down part of an apartment building and killed at least 39 people in the Urals city of Magnitogorsk on New Year's Eve in 2018 says he was tortured while under arrest and will seek justice.

Khusnidin Zainabidinov, a 30-year-old ethnic Uzbek, told RFE/RL on February 20 that officers from Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) tortured him, broke his nose and ribs, and used electric shocks to make him "confess" to planting a bomb in the apartment block in Magnitogorsk.

Zainabidinov said he spent seven months in FSB detention and six months in a deportation camp before being released on February 10 after his involvement in the deadly explosion failed to be proven.

"I have been tortured for nothing for such a long time. I came to Moscow seeking justice. I want the officers [who tortured me] to be held accountable. If need be, I will go as far as the European Court of Human Rights," Zainabidinov said, adding that a Moscow-based human rights group is helping him at the moment.

Russian authorities said at the time that the most likely cause of the blast that destroyed a whole section of an apartment block in Magnitogorsk, 1,400 kilometers southeast of Moscow, was a gas leak.

After the extremist group Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the explosion, the federal Investigative Committee said that no traces of explosives were found in tests of material from the site.

Several deadly apartment-building explosions in Russia in the past 25 years have been blamed on militants from the North Caucasus, where Russian troops fought two devastating wars against Chechen separatists, and an Islamist insurgency stemming from the conflicts still simmers in the region.

Household-gas blasts have also been blamed for many such disasters.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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