Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 4


The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled on January 18 that the Russian military tortured two Chechen brothers held in detention in 2000, the first such conviction of Russian servicemen, Reuters reported. Adam and Arbi Chitaev said that during their nearly six months of incarceration, they were beaten with full water bottles and rubber truncheons, nearly strangled to death with adhesive tape and gas masks, had dogs set on them and their skin torn with pliers. The brothers said that after being detained in April 2000, they were subjected to a week of beating at a local police station before guards drove them to the military-run Chernokozovo detention center in Chechnya, and that they had been forced to sign confessions stating that they had worked with Chechen rebels. “The conditions there were very tough,” Arbi Chitaev told Reuters by telephone from Germany where he now lives. “I think it’s possible to compare the conditions with fascist camps during the Second World War or with the conditions at Stalin’s Gulags.” He said he and his brother had not seen Russian guards kill anyone but they were asked to carry bodies out to waiting trucks. The brothers were released a few days after Anna Politkovskaya published a story about their plight in Novaya gazeta. They were also helped by the Memorial human rights group. “Politkovskaya’s interference and the Memorial people were the only thing that saved us,” Arbi Chitaev said. The Strasbourg-based court ruled that Russian authorities had “tortured the applicants and failed to provide a prompt and public investigation” and awarded each brother 35,000 euros ($45,280) compensation.


Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov said on January 25 that he would seek a retrial of Zara Murtazalieva, the Chechen woman sentenced to nine years in prison in 2005 for allegedly attempting to carry out a terrorist bombing in Moscow in 2004. Kadyrov said he doubted that Murtazalieva was guilty and that he plans to bring in “experienced legal experts and lawyers who will correctly and in strict compliance with the law, carry out all procedures connected to a retrial.” Russian and international human rights groups have charged that the case against Murtazalieva was fabricated.