Chechnya: Abducted artist returned alive but in bad physical shape

Press release

Cases of enforced dissapearance increase in Chechnya.

(Paris) FIDH strongly condemns the increase of cases of enforced disappearances in the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation. Most recently, Grozny University professor, author, bard songwriter and performer Khusein Betelgeriev was abducted by two unidentified men in uniform on 31 March 2016. After twelve days with no information regarding his whereabouts, he returned home on 11 April 2016. His health condition is reportedly very poor and there are strong reasons to believe that he was ill-treated and tortured. Some of his posts on social networks, deemed critical, could have been the cause for his abduction.

For more than a decade, critics of the politics in Chechnya have frequently disappeared or have been found murdered. None of the cases have ever been effectively investigated, including the case of abduction and murder of human rights activist Natalia Estemirova in 2009.

Recently, cases of abduction of vocal citizens in Chechnya have reached an alarming level.

According to the information received, on 31 March 2016, two men in uniform kidnapped Khusein Betelgeriev, Grozny University professor, author, bard songwriter and popular performer. His wife witnessed the abduction and tried to reach her husband on the phone shortly after, only to realize that the line was switched off. Khusein Betelgeriev was officially reported missing on 2 April 2016. It was only on 4 April 2016, following a wide local media coverage of his enforced disappearance due to his popularity, that law enforcement officials confirmed an investigation regarding his disappearance was ongoing.

The day following Khusein Betelgeriev’s abduction, on 1 April 2016, publicists Rizvan Ibragimov and Abubakar Didiev went in turn missing. On 5 April, they reappeared again and Rizvan Ibragimov informed in a social network post that he had spent the last few days in a police station. No further information concerning the reasons and lawfulness of his and Didiev’s detention was so far provided by the law enforcement bodies.

It’s important to remind that on 1 January 2016, Khizir Ejiev, lecturer at Grozny Technical University, was found dead in the woods an hour drive from Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, after being abducted twelve days earlier.

Our organisation calls on the federal authorities to urgently put an end to the ongoing impunity in Chechnya and to bring those responsible for these crimes to justice, in line with their international obligations.

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