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Memorial Gives File On 13 Missing Chechens To Russian Ombudswoman


Tatyana Moskalkova, the Kremlin's human rights ombudswoman

The Moscow-based Memorial Human Rights Center has handed materials regarding the fates of 13 Chechen men, who have been missing for months, to Russian Ombudswoman Tatyana Moskalkova and Russia's presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights.

Memorial's chairman, Oleg Orlov, said on July 27 that the organization has determined that authorities launched an investigation against the 13 missing men on suspicion that they attacked law enforcement officers in December in Russia's North Caucasus region of Chechnya.

On July 24, Memorial issued a report saying that the 13 men were detained by Chechen police from December through February and that no information about their fate was given to relatives.

The report said it was confirmed that one of the men, Said-Ramzan Abdulkerimov, died in custody, reportedly of a "heart attack," but his body was never given to relatives.

On July 9, Russia's Novaya Gazeta newspaper published the names of 27 Chechens reportedly arrested in December and January in Chechnya in response to a December 17 attack against police in Grozny.

The newspaper claimed all 27 men were executed by police in Grozny, on the night of January 26 without facing trial.

Chechen Information Minister Dzhambulat Umarov rejected the newspaper's report, calling it "a lie."

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow was aware of both Novaya Gazeta's report and the denial by Chechen authorities.

Chechnya has been ruled by Ramzan Kadyrov, who is backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, since 2007.

Human rights groups have criticized Kadyrov and his paramilitary forces for serious rights abuses, including the widespread use of kidnapping, torture, and extrajudicial killings.

With reporting by Kavkazsky Uzel
* This story was amended to correct the date of the 27 executions reported by Novaya Gazeta. It was January 26, not July 26-27.
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