Zaurbek Zhamaldayev, b.1985, went missing on July 8, 2015 in Moscow. His friend Yusuf applied for help to Civic Assistance Committee since Zaurbek gave him the telephone number to call in case he would be detained. The case on the missing person was passed on to lawyers of Memorial Human Rights Centre.
Yusuf said that on July 7 in the afternoon, he, Zaurbek and two other friends were in Filion Shopping Centre by the Fili metro station. As their were leaving the Shopping Cente, Zaurbek noticed that they were watched from Lada Priora car. Young men went to a café at Novokuznetskaya where they usually had supper during a fast. When the friends left the café the same car passed by and they recognized one of those who watched them at Fili. Those who watched them left after realizing that they were noticed.
Next day Yusuf and Zaurbek with friends went to the Shopping Centre at Fili again and noticed again that they were followed – this time from a dark-blue Lada Kalina. When young men went down to the metro those who watched them left their car and followed them to the metro station Novokuznetskaya. Leaving the metro, Yusuf and Zaurbek went to the sport ground close by and their friends went to the café.
Two of those who watched them went and sat down on the bench by the sport ground. Zaurbek and Yusuf decided to separate out to check who they would follow. Yusuf left the sport ground for the café. On his way there he noticed the same Lada Kalina. When he passed it by, it moved towards the sport ground. When he reached the café, Yusuf asked one of his friends to fetch Zaurbek but the latter was nowhere to be seen at the ground. His both telephones were switched off. Since that time Zaurbek’s whereabouts were unknown.
On July 10, Zhamaldayev’s friends filed a missing person report with OVD Zamoskvorechye. The same kind of application his relatives filed with law-enforcement authorities in Chechnya.
On July 16, Svetlana Gannushkina, the president of Civic Assistance Committee and the head of Migration and Law network, Memorial Human Rights Centre, approached Vladimir Kolokoltsev, Minister for Internal Affairs with the request to “take immediate action for finding out whereabouts” of Zaurbek, and if he became subject of abduction, considering circumstances of his disappear, – to call the guilty ones to account.
On December 17 2007, in Chechnya Zaurbek was sentenced to a year of imprisonment under p.2, Article 208, RF Penal Code (participation in an illegal armed group). Zaurbek served his time at a colony in Argun, Chechnya, where he took seriously ill and in June 2008 he was released on parole. After being released he has been ill for another year. He used to be detained and questioned at the police regularly.
In April 2010, Zaurbek left for Poland where he applied for refugee status, but received a negative answer: Polish authorities considered his release on parole as a sign that there was no danger for him in Russia.
Migration services were not convinced by the paper from Civic Assistance Committee and Memorial Human Rights Centre which read that “Chechens who served time under Article 208 and other articles related to the armed underground, form a group of high-risk in Chechnya: many of them after being released from prison – sooner or later – again become subjected to abduction, tortures or arbitrary execution”. In March 2013, Zaurbek received a final refusal of asylum and was deported to Russia.
Since his return to the homeland, Zaurbek was staying in Moscow: first being in the care of Civic Assistance Committee and then on his own – working as a guard for Moscow shopping centres. In 2014, he went to Chechnya for a month, got married there and then came back to the capital city.
Shortly before Zaurbek’s abduction his wife in Chechnya was detained and questioned where her husband was. The young woman answered that her husband was working in Moscow.
This case is not the first one known to us when a native of Chechnya who was refused refugee status and deported, became subject of persecution in Russia. Kana Afanasev who was deported from Sweden at the end of 2014, was taken by law-enforcement officials from his house in Chechnya and murdered afterwards.