A lawyer at the North Caucasus branch of the Russian human rights organization Committee Against Torture says 21 of his relatives have been “abducted” in Chechnya.
Over the past few days, a total of six opposition activists, who have been critical of the Chechen authorities, and human rights defenders have reported the detention or disappearance of dozens of relatives.
Abubakar Yangulbaev of the Committee Against Torture told Caucasus.Realities of RFE/RL's Russian Service on December 25 that unidentified men wearing black uniforms took his relatives to police stations, and seized their mobile phones, passports, as well as other documents.
The raids took place on December 23-25 in the village of Goity and the regional capital, Grozny, he said.
"They have not been charged with any official indictments. According to my information, 21 people have been abducted. At the moment in Chechnya there is a mass abduction of relatives of opposition bloggers, human rights activists, in general people dissatisfied” with Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, Yangulbaev said.
The lawyer said that he and his brother are accused of moderating and administrating the opposition 1ADAT Telegram channel, which he denied.
Since December 22, it has been reported that relatives of opposition bloggers Tumso Abdurakhmanov, Khasan Khalitov, Minkail Malizayev, human rights defenders Mansur Sadulaev and Aslan Artsuev have disappeared or been detained.
Federal authorities have not commented on the situation.
Kadyrov, who has ruled Chechnya since 2007 with a cult of personality around him, is frequently accused by Russian and international human rights groups of overseeing grave human rights abuses including abductions, torture, extrajudicial killings, and targeting the LGBT community.