Joint statement: Russian Federation: Ensure safety of two Chechen men arbitrarily detained and forcibly transferred to Chechnya
We, the undersigned, express our grave concern over reports that two Chechen men were arbitrarily detained by the police in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod and forcibly transferred to Chechnya. The Russian authorities must immediately establish their whereabouts, ensure their safety and release them unless they are charged with internationally recognisable criminal offence. The men are at grave risk of torture and other ill-treatment and there is a risk to their lives.
On 4 February, the Russian LGBT Network reported that Nizhny Novgorod special purpose police unit (OMON) had detained Salekh Magamadov and Ismail Isaev at their residence. The police informed a lawyer working with the LGBT Network to establish the two men whereabouts that the men had been taken by car to the police station of Gudermes district, Republic of Chechnya.
On 6 February, police questioned the men without informing about the grounds of their detention and not allowing the lawyer to talk to them. [Magamadov and Isaev looked exhausted and intimidated]. The men were released after the questioning and immediately re-arrested and taken to the police district of Sernovodsk district. The men were “pushed” to refuse legal aid prompting LGBT Network to send a new lawyer to Chechnya. Up until now police refuses to disclose the grounds for their detention and other circumstances of the case and refuses to receive a petition on their abduction. The current whereabouts of the men are unknown. Meanwhile, on 7 February the aid of the head of the Chechen Republic and the minister of information and press announced, that Magomadov and Isaev gave confessions on engaging in complicity with a member of illegal armed groups. We have concerns that Salekh Magamadov and Ismail Isaev gave confessions under torture and are at grave risk of criminal persecution on a fabricated case.
In April 2020, Salekh Magamadov and Ismail Isaev were arbitrary detained by the Chechen police and held at the premises of the infamous patrol police regiment named after Akhmad Kadyrov. There, according to their account, they were tortured and otherwise ill-treated for moderating an opposition Telegram channel Osal Nakh 95”. They were released after a humiliating video with their “apologies” had been published on Internet. In July 2020, the LGBT Network helped Salekh Magamadov and Ismail Isaev to leave Chechnya and move to Nizhny Novgorod due to ongoing concerns over their safety.
The Chechen Republic is an enclave in Russia, where crimes under international law and serious human rights violations, including mass arbitrary detentions, torture and other ill-treatment, and extrajudicial killings are being committed on a regular basis. The Chechen authorities are ultimately responsible for the violence and intimidation of its critics and opponents, including physical attacks, torture, kidnappings enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings. The prominent cases last year include attack on human rights lawyer Marina Dubrovina and investigative journalist Elena Milashina in Grozny in February, killings of exiled bloggers Imran Aliev in France and Mamikhan Umarov in Austria, murder attempt on blogger Tumsu Abdurakhmanov in Sweden and torture and enforced disappearance of moderator of Telegram channel 1Adat Salman Tepsurkaev.
We call upon the Russian authorities to take immediate steps ensure safety of Salekh Magamadov and Ismail Isaev and release them, unless they are charged with internationally recognised criminal offence, in which case they must be provided with full legal protection according to the international fair trial law and standards.
Centre for Conflict Analysis and Prevention
Civil Rights Defenders
Committee Against Torture
Human Rights Centre “Memorial”
Norwegian Helsinki Committee