Hurshedin Fazilov was working as a butcher in the shop by the historical mosque on Novokuznetskaya when he suddenly became a refugee. Tajikistan accused him of recruiting fellow Tajiks and sending them to Turkey. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) defended Fazilov from deportation, but it didn’t help: bypassing all the legal procedures and in violation of international law, on the 15 June he was forcibly extracted from Russia.
Father of four Hurshedin Fazilov came to Russia with only one aim, like many of his compatriots – to earn money. In Autumn 2014 he was already working as a butcher in the cafe of the historical mosque on Novokuznetskaya. We have long been familiar with this mosque. Previously the café has fed poor refugees from Muslim countries for free.
Half a year later the Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Tajikistan accused Fazilov of involvement in the process of recruiting dozens of other Tajiks to ISIS and that he was sending them to Turkey at his own expense for onwards travel to Syria. A case was brought against him and in May an international search was announced for Fazilov. Already in July he was detained in Moscow. On 16 July by the decision of the Zamoskvoretsky district court, Hurshedin was sent to jail.
In this case neither the Russian Federal Security Service nor workers at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Prosecutor’s Office, which thoroughly track terrorist activity in Russia, had any information on Fazilov’s ‘criminal actions’ as reported in official documents. A representative of the MFA even brought to the attention of the staff at the Prosecutors Office the importance of observing asylum procedure and the possible appeal of Fazilov to the ECHR.
In August the extradition request came. It became clear that the situation was catastrophic – those accused of such crimes in Tajikistan are faced with cruel torture and long-term imprisonment. Whilst this is happening, proving innocence by legal means is absolutely impossible. In the ‘Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee Against Torture’, adopted on the basis of the report by Tajikistan presented at the 37th session of the UN Committee outlined:
‘There are numerous allegations of the widespread practice of torture and cruel treatment from law-enforcement and investigative agencies, in particular to extract confessions for use in criminal proceedings. In addition, preventative measures are not taken for the provision of effective protection for all members of society from torture and cruel treatment.’ In addition conclusions based on false accusations and torture is one of the most common methods of extortion in Central Asian countries.
Hurshedin started to look for help. In early of autumn he made contact with Rosa Magomedova, a lawyer from the group ‘Migration and Law Human Rights Centre Memorial’, who gave him a consultation. With her advice by 25 November Fazilov had already filed a submission requesting asylum status or temporary asylum in Russia. In February he was refused. He appealed the decision in a higher court.
Without waiting for a decision on the appeal, the Russian General Prosecutor’s Office issued a decision on the extradition of Hurshedin Fazilov to the Republic of Tajikistan. The applicant and his lawyers appealed the decision of the Prosecutor’s Office in the Moscow City Court. But the Court was not satisfied with the complaint. We filed an appeal to the Supreme Court and, at the same time, on the 11 July 2016 Rosa Magomedova wrote a statement to the ECHR about the adoption of interim measures to prevent the extradition of Fazilov.
On 13 July the ECHR decided to apply Rule 39, therefore prohibiting the extradition of the complainant and instructing the Russian authorities on the inadmissibility of the extradition of Fazilov. But on the 14 July the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the Moscow City Court and resolved to send Hurshedin to Tajikistan. At least the court attached the application of Rule 39 to the case materials.
Fazilov’s period of detention expired on the 15 July. In the morning Olga Golub, his second lawyer, came to see him in jail. They discussed together and after their conversation Olga went to the special jail and reminded that the case of Fazilov fell under Rule 39 and that he had fulfilled his period of detention. But by lunchtime Fazilov still wasn’t released.
‘At the same time I started to call the Prosecutor, he didn’t pick up the phone. We had earlier agreed to go the Prosecutor’s Office, and Olga went with me’ said Rosa, ‘at the entrance I asked if Ruslan Grashin, the prosecutor in this case, was there. They told me he was. Outside his office the prosecutor on duty says to me that Grashin has left. I left, it was already evening and I arrived at the isolation ward after five. You can say that I was lucky – this time members of the ONK called in and I asked them to check if Fazilov was there. When they confirmed that he wasn’t in the prison it became clear – I didn’t have to look any further.’
As told by Rosa Magomedova, members of the ONK reported that the Federal Penitentiary Service had escorted Fazilov away. The lawyers sent faxes to all airports, the FSB, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the ECHR but it was no help. Several days later relatives found out that Hurshedin was already in Tajikistan in one of Dushanbe’s prisons.
The lawyer believes that the charges against Fazilov were unfounded: ‘Our security services, as demonstrated by the letters, did not find the actions of Hurshedin to be criminal. It turns out that Tajik citizens know better about what is going on in Moscow? And what a rush – they took him as soon as the lawyer left. By special escort. I, among other things, filed the complaint personally to the Moscow City Police that the prosecutor and escort had exceeded their powers.’
Sadly similar extra-legal extraditions of citizens of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan by the security services of their countries are common practice in Russia. We’ve repeatedly written about the sad story of the producer Mirsobir Hamidkariev who at the time of abduction was also in the process of receiving asylum status – our courts had ordered the FMS to grant him this status. Also in September 2015, Uzbek citizen Zuhredin Rahimov ‘voluntarily left Russia’ (as detailed in the case papers), in respect to which Rule 39 was also applied by ECHR. It is reasonable to assume that there can be no speaking about voluntary leaving: his lawyer from the group ‘Migration and Law Human Rights Centre Memorial’ Illarion Vasilyev thinks that Rahimov was kidnapped. But this is a rare story with happy ending: on 3 December 2015 the authorities granted Rahimov amnesty, and by 7 February the court liberated him. Usually in Uzbekistan a similar decision can only be reached by the payment of a large bribe.
Similarly on 1 July another Uzbek citizen Olim Ochilov was kidnapped, whilst also in the procedure of obtaining asylum and also had the Rule 39 of ECHR applied to his case. Lawyers from the ‘Human Rights Institute’ are dealing with Ochilov’s case.
There is a reason to claim that for every such extradition of a suspect, Russian intelligence services receive large bonuses. Those from Central Asia who are accused in such false cases face a dreadful future.
Civic Assistance Committee expresses its outrage at the actions of the special escort and prosecutors. It should be noted that employees of the Interior Ministry at the airport (presumably Fazilov was taken from Domodedovo) didn’t prevent the abduction of the person whose rights had been defended at an international court of justice. These actions are perceived by the ECHR as a gross violation of Article 34 of the Convention, and we have already filed a complaint. The perpetrators of the abduction should be found and punished.
By Elena Srapyan, Civic Assistance Committee