Annual Report: Russian Federation 2013

May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Russian Federation 2013

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Armed groups continued to launch attacks against security forces, local officials and civilians. A double bomb attack on 3 May in Makhachkala, Dagestan, left 13 people dead (including eight police officers), and over 80 emergency and rescue workers were injured. On 28 August, an influential Dagestani Muslim cleric, Sheikh Said Afandi, and his five visitors were killed by a woman suicide bomber. Other attacks by armed groups took place across the North Caucasus.

Some republics sought to develop non-repressive responses to the threats posed by armed groups. Commissions for Adaptation were established in Dagestan and Ingushetia with the aim of encouraging the surrender and re-integration into society of former members of armed groups. The Dagestani authorities adopted a more tolerant attitude towards Salafi Muslims.

However, security operations continued to be conducted on a regular basis throughout the region. In the course of these, numerous human rights violations by law enforcement officials were reported, including enforced disappearances, unlawful detentions, torture and other ill-treatment, and extrajudicial executions.

The authorities systematically failed to conduct effective, impartial and prompt investigations into human rights violations by law enforcement officials, or to identify those responsible and bring them to justice. In some cases, criminal proceedings were initiated, but for the most part, the ensuing investigation either failed to establish the perpetrators or confirm involvement of officials in the relevant incidents, or concluded that there had been no violation by law enforcement officials. Only exceptional cases led to the prosecution of police officials for abuse of authority in connection with torture and other ill-treatment. Not a single case of enforced disappearance or alleged extrajudicial execution was resolved, and no perpetrators from any other law enforcement agency were brought to justice.

  • Rustam Aushev, a 23-year-old resident of Ingushetia, was last seen on 17 February at Mineralnye Vody railway station in the neighbouring Stavropol region. The next day, his relative spoke to staff at the station. They reported seeing a young man being detained by plain-clothes men and driven away in a Gazelle minivan, which was also captured on CCTV. A security guard had reportedly spoken to the minivan's driver asking it to be parked in the designated area, and was shown an FSB official's ID. Rustam Aushev's family reported these details to the authorities and demanded an investigation, but his fate and whereabouts were unknown at the end of the year.
  • In Ingushetia, the first ever trial of two former police officials concluded in Karabulak. Some charges related to the secret detention and torture of Zelimkhan Chitigov although the officials faced other charges as well. The announcement of the verdict was postponed repeatedly for almost three months, and on 7 November the judge sentenced one defendant to eight years' imprisonment, and fully acquitted the other, his former superior. Allegations of intimidation of victims and witnesses had persisted throughout the trial, during which both defendants remained at large. No other perpetrators were identified despite Zelimkhan Chitigov naming at least one other official by name and alleging that many others had been involved in the incessant bouts of torture during the three days he was kept in secret detention.

Amnesty International visits/reports

  • Amnesty International delegates visited the Russian Federation in May and June.
  • Russian Federation: The circle of injustice – security operations and human rights violations in Ingushetia (EUR 46/012/2012)
  • Russian Federation: Briefing to the UN Committee against Torture (EUR 46/040/2012)