Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 7 Issue: 5

Amnesty International on January 26 issued a press release concerning Rasul Kudaev, the former prisoner in the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who was arrested by the authorities in Kabardino-Balkaria for alleged involvement in the rebel raid on the republic’s capital last October 13. “Rasul Kudaev who suffers from disorders affecting his heart and liver has allegedly been tortured and otherwise ill-treated in detention in Nalchik, including being subjected to beatings and electric shock treatment,” the London-based human rights group stated. “He must be given immediate and all necessary medical care and be given access to his family and a lawyer of his choice. There must be an independent and impartial investigation into allegations that Rasul Kudaev and other detainees in Nalchik have been tortured, with those found responsible brought to justice. Rasul Kudaev must be treated according to international standards relating to detention and criminal investigations. No statement extracted under duress or torture can ever be used in criminal proceedings.” Amnesty also quoted Kudaev’s mother, Fatimat Tekaeva, as saying: “Only after they had already tortured him to the point where they feared they had killed him—only then did the officer rush out and say: ‘The medicine! Give me the medicine!’ And I said: ‘Certainly, take it!’”

Kavkazky Uzel’s Luisa Orazaeva wrote in a piece published on January 27 by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting’s website that Kudaev had disappeared from the Nalchik prison in which he was being held after meeting with the Russian president’s envoy to the Southern Federal District, Dmitry Kozak, and the recently appointed president of Kabardino-Balkaria, Arsen Kanokov (see Chechnya Weekly, January 12). According to Orazaeva, Kudaev was removed from the facility, and the heads of the prison and its medical center have refused to meet his mother or answer her questions. After hearing reports that he had been transferred to a prison in the Russian town of Piatigorsk, Tekaeva phoned the jail, only to be told he was not there. Orazaeva quoted from a letter Kudaev wrote to his family after his meeting with Kozak and Kanokov, during which the two officials questioned him in detail. “Kanokov listened to how they tortured me and the veins on his neck swelled up with anger,” Kudaev’s letter said. “But of course I could not tell them all the details… In short, they saw first hand the nightmares that go on. Kanokov left very angry. You could see from his face that he isn’t a bad person. And you could see from Kozak’s [face] that he is a fair guy.”

According to Amnesty International, Rasul Kudaev is said to have traveled to Saudi Arabia in 2000 to study Islam. His family said that after his studies “he wanted to see the world” and traveled on to Iran, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. He was reportedly seized in Afghanistan by the Northern Alliance in 2001, transferred to U.S. custody and transported onward to the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in early 2002. After two years of detention without charge or trial at Guantanamo Bay, Kudaev was transferred with seven other Guantanamo detainees into Russian custody. They were released in June 2004 after the federal Prosecutor General’s Office reportedly announced that the case against them was closed. Kudaev then returned home to Nalchik.

As Kavkazky Uzel’s Luisa Orazaeva noted in her piece for the IWPR, Kudaev is not the only person who has disappeared in Nalchik since the October 13 raid. Ruslan Nakhushev, the activist who was local coordinator of the Russian Islamic Heritage movement, went missing in November after questioning by the local security services (see Chechnya Weekly, November 10, 2005). On January 11, she reported, Zaur Pshigotyzhev, who was arrested on suspicion of involvement in the Nalchik attacks and then released, also disappeared. His car was later found in a wooded area, but his whereabouts are unknown.

On January 12, Kabardino-Balkaria President Arsen Kanokov said the believed the bodies of all suspected militants killed during the Nalchik raid should be handed over to their families for burial. He said, however, that such a decision could only be made by the federal authorities, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s North Caucasus Service reported. The bodies of the 95 alleged militants officially killed in the Nalchik raid were initially kept in refrigerated railroad cars but their current whereabouts are unknown. Russian news agencies reported on January 6 that three more participants in the Nalchik raid had been killed and one had been captured.