«The Russian Federation has a centralized political system, with power concentrated in a president and a prime minister, a weak multiparty political ...»
Civilians suffered as a result of actions by both rebels and security personnel. In Dagestan, nine children were killed by stray gunfire during a counterterrorist operation in the village of Kirovaul in the Kizilyurt District on December 6.
There continued to be reports of indiscriminate use of force by security personnel resulting in numerous deaths. Security forces generally conducted their activities without regard for due process or civilian casualties and with apparent impunity from investigation or prosecution for their conduct.
For example, on February 11-12, according to NGO Memorial, security forces killed at least four civilians in Ingushetiya in the course of an operation against rebels. The authorities claimed the inhabitants of the area had been warned in advance of the operation and the four had been caught in cross fire with terrorists.
Memorial cited local residents as saying they had not been warned and describing the killing of the victims as separate actions not related to firing on terrorists.
Chechen ombudsman Nurdi Nukhazhhiyev supported the government's claim but doubted the objectivity of a government investigation. He alleged that "hundreds of
RUSSIAcrimes committed by the Russian military against Chechen civilians have not been investigated."
There were also killings by rebels. For example, on May 13, in Dagestan, five persons were killed when a vehicle carrying telecommunications workers was attacked with two bombs and gunfire from unknown persons, according to a press account. The personnel were on their way to repair a cell phone tower damaged in a fire the day before. The gunmen reportedly declared at the end of the attack that as soon as the communications center was repaired, they would attack it again.
According to NGO Interfax, on June 8, an official of a madrassa in Dagestan was shot and killed. Authorities detained a suspect identified as "an active supporter of radical Islamism." On the same day also in Dagestan, Interfax reported a judge, Abdurakhyman Gamzatov, was fatally shot in his home.
On September 7, unknown gunmen in Kabardino-Balkaria ambushed and killed district judge Dzhulber Bykov in his car. Political observers tied the killing to Bykov's professional activities.
According to the Glasnost Defense Fund, 12 journalists were killed during the year. The Web site Journalists-in-Russia.org listed 11 journalists killed, seven of them possibly for reasons associated with their work (see section 1.a.). Reporters Without Borders listed only one killing of a journalist.
On May 11, according to the Glasnost Defense Foundation, Shamil Aliyev, founder and head manager of Priboi and Vatan radio stations and director of the TNT-Makhachkala television network, was shot and killed in Makhachkala.
Unknown assailants attacked his car with submachine guns, leaving Aliyev and his bodyguard dead and his driver wounded. No arrests were made by year's end.
On August 11, according to the Glasnost Defense Foundation, Magomed Sultanmagomedov, editor in chief of Makhachkala TV, was shot and killed in Makhachkala, when unknown assailants attacked his car with submachine guns.
No arrests were made in connection with the case.
In November a trial began in Vienna of three persons, Otto Kaltenbrunner (formerly known as Ramzan Edilov), Suleiman Dadayev, and Turpal-Ali Yesherkayev, who were alleged to have been accomplices in the shooting death in Vienna in January 2009 of Umar Israilov. Israilov, a former bodyguard of Chechen
RUSSIAPresident Ramzan Kadyrov, became a critic of Kadyrov's rule and filed a complaint with the ECHR stating he had witnessed Kadyrov torturing prisoners and that Chechen authorities and Kadyrov had also beaten and tortured him and his family. According to the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, an expert witness testified at the Vienna trial that Israilov's alleged killer, Letscha Bogatirov, was promoted by the Kadyrov government following the assassination as a reward for his actions. The trial was scheduled to continue in 2011.
There were no arrests or indications of continuing investigation in the August 2009 abduction and killing in Chechnya of Zarema Sadulayeva and Alik Dzhabrailov, charity workers who ran the Grozniy-based NGO Save the Generation.
There were no arrests or indications of a continuing investigation into the 2008 killing of three Chechen brothers, Zurab, Akhdan, and Alvi Ilaev, nor was there any indication authorities were investigating the 2008 killing in Makhachkala of Telman Alishayev, a journalist from the Islam-focused television station TV Chirkey.
On May 12, the ECHR ruled the Russian government must pay 225,000 euros ($301,500) in compensation for its complicity in the killing of four Chechens and the disappearance of another.
On June 17, Caucasian Knot reported the ECHR concluded security authorities were responsible for the disappearances and deaths of seven Chechens in 2002.
The ECHR ordered the government to pay 470,000 euros ($630,000). Hasan Batayev, Zaur Ibragimov, Magomed Temurkayev, Rizvan Ismailov, Said-Ali, and Haron Musayevi were taken from their homes in Grozny by armed masked men.
Usman Mavlyueva was kidnapped at a checkpoint.
There were no reports of further developments in the following 2009 killings of civilians, police, and government officials by rebels or unknown persons: the March shootout between police and insurgents in Dagestan in which five officers and 12 rebels were killed; the March abduction and killing of a police officer in the Vedeno Region of Chechnya; the April grenade attack on the home of Criminal Police Chief Alikhan Geroyev of Sunzhenskiy District, Ingushetiya, which killed both Geroyev and his sister; the June killing of Adilgirey Magomedtagirov, the chief of the Dagestan Ministry of Interior; the July killing in Nazran of Magomed Gadaborshev, head of the Ingush Republic's criminal investigation department; the July shooting death of Isapil Ozdoeyev, the head of a city-level Ministry of Interior
Federal forces and their opponents in Chechnya made extensive use of antipersonnel mines in Chechnya. During the year the estimated area in Chechnya covered with mines ranged from 34,600 to 59,300 acres, according to Kommersant and Nezavisimaya Gazeta.
Government personnel, rebels, and criminal elements continued to engage in abductions in the North Caucasus. Officials and observers disagreed on the numbers of victims. Human rights groups believed the numbers of abductions were underreported due to the reluctance of victims' relatives to complain to authorities due to fear of reprisal. According to a report on the Web site Caucasian Knot, during the year approximately 50 persons were kidnapped or unlawfully detained by armed parties in the North Caucasus, and only 16 were freed. Allegedly, there was no accountability for government forces involved in abductions. There were continued reports abductions were followed by beatings or torture to extract confessions and that abductions were conducted for political reasons. Criminal groups in the region, possibly with links to rebel forces, frequently resorted to kidnapping for ransom.
On March 3, according to the Investigation Committee, a special unit for missing persons was set up in Chechnya and received reports regarding the kidnapping of more than 200 persons by military and MVD personnel between 1999 and 2003.
At the same time, security forces under the command of Chechen President Kadyrov allegedly played a significant role in abductions, either on their own initiative or in joint operations with federal forces. Human rights groups reported these forces were frequently suspected of being responsible for disappearances and abductions, including those of family members of rebel commanders and fighters.
Security forces in Chechnya, Dagestan, and Ingushetiya frequently abducted or detained individuals for several days without immediate explanation or charge,
RUSSIAaccording to human rights groups. Caucasian Knot reported that rather than issuing a summons for criminal offenses, security forces preferred to seize suspects at home or while traveling.
On May 13, according to the NGO Memorial, police in Ingushetiya arrested Magomed Garbakov after security forces partially destroyed his home during a search in which approximately 217,000 rubles ($7,000) and personal items were reportedly stolen. Garbakov has not been seen since, and his family has not been informed of the charges against him.
On August 8, Russian and Ingush security forces raided the home of the Mutsolgov family and abducted 15-year-old Magomed Mutsolgov, beating his father in the process. The child was held for two days and reportedly tortured with electric shocks. Caucasian Knot noted the case might be related to Magomed's older brother, who was killed by the FSB in July.
In October 2009 a procurement and logistics assistant for the Danish Refugee Council, Zarema Gaisanova, was abducted from her home in Grozniy. Amnesty International asserted that law enforcement officials carried out the abduction. Her whereabouts remained unknown at year's end. The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) reported that eye-witnesses and other human rights organizations stated that a special security operation involving either Chechen leader Ramzon Kadyrov or a security unit named after him took place, in which Zarema Gaisanova was taken away in a military vehicle. The NGO Memorial criticized the criminal investigation into the matter as poorly executed and incomplete. The DRC met in April with the Russian Ombudsman for Chechnya, who stated that he would look into the disappearance, but there was no further information on his efforts.
An investigation continued into the abduction in St. Petersburg in December 2009 of two brothers and two uncles of slain activist Maksharip Aushev.
There were no developments in the 2008 abduction case of Mokhmadsalakh Masaev, a Muslim preacher accused of "salafism."
Physical Abuse, Punishment, and Torture Armed forces and police units reportedly frequently abused and tortured persons in holding facilities where federal authorities sorted out rebels and persons suspected of aiding them from civilians.
RUSSIAIn Chechnya and Ingushetiya, there continued to be reports of torture by government forces.
For example, on April 27, police in Ingushetiya detained 20-year-old Zelimkhan Chitigov. He was held for two days before being charged with weapons possession, for a grenade found in his room, which his family maintained was planted by police. According to NGO Memorial, Chitigov was brutally beaten while in custody and subjected to electric shocks and other forms of torture.
Chitigov remained in police custody but in a hospital, where he was being treated for brain and spinal cord injury, burns, and other serious injuries.
There was a report of a continued arson campaign. The Chechen arson campaign began in 2008 following explicit threats by Chechen President Kadyrov and by Grozniy Mayor Muslim Khuchiyev of burning down houses belonging to families whose sons were suspected of joining the insurgency. Human rights activist Natalya Estemirova was working on a documentary on the arson campaign when she was killed in July 2009 (see section 1.a.). According to the testimony of Human Rights Watch representative Tanya Lokshina, the latest incident in the arson campaign occurred in Shali on March 16.
The Independent Commission on Human Rights in the Northern Caucasus, headed by the chairman of the State Duma Committee on Legislation, continued to hear hundreds of complaints, ranging from destruction or theft of property to rape and killing; however, the commission was not empowered to investigate or prosecute alleged offenders and referred complaints to military or civil prosecutors. Almost all complainants alleged violations of military discipline and other crimes by federal and Chechen Republic forces.
Chechnya Human Rights Ombudsman Nurdi Nukhazhiyev continued the practice of his predecessor in not cooperating with the area's leading NGO, Memorial.
Other Conflict-related Abuses Throughout 2009 security forces conducted security sweeps and passport checks at temporary settlements in Ingushetiya housing IDPs from Chechnya (see section
2.d.). At times these sweeps reportedly led to human rights abuses or disappearances. In February 2009 the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) reported that Chechen authorities had begun visiting
RUSSIAapproximately 2,500 Chechen IDPs in 22 temporary shelters in Ingushetiya and urging them to return to Chechnya, sometimes with verbal threats. The UNHCR reported different forms of pressure on IDPs continued during the year.
Human rights groups visited illegal detention centers for internally displaced persons in Chechnya and other locations in the North Caucasus where they documented continuing abuses. Chechen Republic security forces reportedly maintained secret prisons in Tsentoroi, Gudermes, and other locations. HRW reported that it had detailed descriptions of at least 10 unlawful detention facilities.
Human rights groups reported that officers of the federal Ministry of Interior's Second Operational Investigative Bureau illegally detained and tortured persons in its Grozniy offices.
Authorities this year continued to refuse to grant the Red Cross access, under its standard criteria, to persons detained as part of the conflict in Chechnya. This denial has been in effect since 2004.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties
The constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press; however, in practice government pressure on some media persisted in coverage of select controversial issues, resulting in numerous infringements of these rights.