Chechnya asked to explain 27 deaths

Chechnya asked to explain 27 deaths

Reports in the Novaya Gazeta newspaper that the security forces in Chechnya killed 27 people on January 26 must be investigated, said Denis Krivosheev, regional representative for Amnesty International. 

“These allegations come from a credible source and, as horrendous as they are, appear totally plausible for Chechnya, where the authorities enjoy complete impunity for human-rights violations,” Krivosheev said.

Novaya Gazeta, quoting two senior Chechen sources, reported at the weekend that numerous people were unlawfully detained during raids that began in mid-December. It is alleged that 27 of them were allegedly killed on January 26 without being formally arrested.

Novaya Gazeta, which exposed the persecution of gay men in Chechnya, said the executions were not linked to the anti-gay campaign but were triggered by the killing of a policeman on December 16.

The Russian paper reported that no paperwork was filled out on the victims before they were summarily executed.

An unnamed Interior Ministry source reportedly provided the newspaper with the names of the victims and the paper was unable to locate any of them.

“All attempts to learn anything about these people were met with incredible fear from everyone we questioned,” the paper reported. “We want to insist on starting a criminal case to check what happened.”

The newspaper is partly owned by ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and former KGB spy Alexander Lebedev, whose family control the Evening Standard in London.

Kremlin-backed Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov and his security operation have been accused of gross human-rights abuses for many years, including abductions, torture, assassinations in Moscow and other killings.

Chechen government spokesman Dzhambulat Umarov described the allegations as a “lie”, arguing they were the product of the “sick imagination” of the paper’s reporters.

The US State Department called for an investigation, saying: “We are aware of troubling reports that security forces in the Republic of Chechnya summarily executed more than two dozen people in January. We urge the Russian government to conduct an independent and credible investigation into the allegations.”

Amnesty’s Krivosheev added: “Amnesty International has documented the practice of extrajudicial executions in Chechnya and elsewhere in the north Caucasus for many years, and these allegations are consistent with our past findings. They must be investigated immediately, and if proven to be true, all perpetrators must be brought to justice.

“In addition, a full and thorough investigation needs to be carried out into allegations of the secret imprisonment and torture and other ill-treatment of more than 100 gay men in Chechnya in April.

“The security forces cannot be allowed to get away with torture and murder simply because they wear the badge of the state.”

Ramzan Kadyrov with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Picture credit: Kremlin

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