Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 7

Makhmut Magomadov, the Chechen human rights lawyer who was kidnapped by unknown persons on January 20, has been released, the Kavkazky Uzel website and other information sources reported on February 14. According to the website, Magomadov told Ruslan Badalov, head of the Chechen National Salvation Committee, in a telephone conversation on February 13, that he had been home since the previous evening and was with relatives and friends who had done everything possible to locate him. Magomadov said that armed people who had abducted him had let him go a half hour after seizing him when they examined his passport and said they had taken the wrong person. Magomadov said he then went to spend the night at a friend’s and the following morning left Grozny for another republic in the North Caucasus. Magomadov expressed gratitude to the international and Russian human rights groups that appealed to President Vladimir Putin and other top Russian officials to take all possible measures to free him.

The Memorial human rights center said in a statement on February 14 that it was glad to learn that Magomadov had been freed and detailed his telephone conversation with Ruslan Badalov. “At the same time, considering the circumstances that Magomadov and his family are in, we understand that this person freed by kidnappers is for some reason forced to stick to the low-probability version [of events] set forth above,” Memorial stated. The International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF), with whom Magomadov had worked, released a statement on February 14 reporting that he had been freed and stating that “more details about the case will be released in the coming days.” It noted that Magomadov “has been active in preparing cases on human rights abuses in Chechnya to submit to the European Court of Human Rights” and that his abduction “is seen as part of a wave of repression against human rights defenders and groups in the Russian Federation.” The IHF statement noted that along with the IHF and Memorial, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have also protested Magomadov’s abduction.