Chechen Government Calls for Abolition of ORB-2

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 19 and Kavkazky Uzel reported on May 4 that the heads of Chechnya’s law-enforcement bodies and security agencies asked Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov to initiate the abolition of ORB-2, the controversial operative-investigative unit of the Southern Federal District’s main Interior Ministry department that operates in Chechnya. The website reported that during a government meeting, the officials expressed concern that ORB-2 continues to torture people it has detained. A member of Chechnya’s parliament, Ibragim Khultygov told Kavkazky Uzel that “the situation involving the use of torture on the territory of the Chechen Republic is such that it could lead to a social explosion, the results of which are unpredictable.” Khultygov also said that “particularly many complaints” about torture have come from those who had been detained by ORB-2 at a facility in Grozny. “It is impossible to call” the activities of ORB-2 “anything other than criminal,” Khultygov said, adding by way of description that if an ORB-2 detainee does not sign a forced confession, “then ORB-2 members kidnap and torture his relatives” as a means of pressuring the detainee to confess.

The newspaper Vek noted on May 8 that in 1998, Khultygov became the head of the National Security Service of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (ChRI) under then Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov. Novaya gazeta military affairs correspondent Vyacheslav Izmailov claimed last month that Khultygov, in his capacity as security chief in the Maskhadov government, was involved in the kidnapping of soldiers and civilians (Chechnya Weekly, April 5).

In any case, Chechen First Deputy Prime Minister Adam Delimkhanov echoed Khultygov during the meeting of Chechnya’s law-enforcement and security chiefs, warning that “only through the efforts of the leadership of the republic will it be possible to avoid a wave of mass discontent on the part of the population over the use of torture and impermissible investigative methods.” For his part, Chechnya’s acting prosecutor Vladimir Chernyaev told the meeting that there were 270 complaints of torture of detainees in 2006 and that criminal cases have been launched in response to 11 of the 270 cases. Chernyaev said that before 2004, the majority of kidnappings in Chechnya took place during security operations, while today they are most often carried out by “criminal groups that are well armed, have uniforms, fake [official] identity cards, [and] occasionally are current members of law-enforcement bodies or power structures.” Chernyaev also said that since the start of the second military operation in Chechnya in 1999, the republican prosecutor’s office has opened 2,001 criminal cases involving the kidnappings of 2,795 people.

Chechnya’s human rights ombudsman, Nurdi Nukhazhiev, criticized both those guilty of using torture and the republican prosecutor’s office for “not taking appropriate measures in reaction to these facts,” reported. “An analysis of the responses, by the prosecutorial bodies to complaints from detainees about torture used against them, shows that all of the checks [carried out] by the prosecutor’s office are formal in nature, with their conclusions reached beforehand.” reported on May 4 that in their meeting, the heads of Chechnya’s law-enforcement bodies and security agencies adopted a resolution calling on Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov to ask Federal Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliev to abolish ORB-2.

On May 5, Kadyrov spoke out against the use of torture, Radio Ekho Moskvy and reported. “We must not resign ourselves to that,” he said in a meeting with members of Chechnya’s Public Chamber. “Regardless of which agency a unit belongs to, I do not permit anyone to harass people.” Kadyrov added that “today in Chechnya there are no gang formations, the heads of the illegal armed formations have been destroyed or are serving time, and therefore every person has the right to expect that nobody, regardless of their position, will be allowed to infringe upon his rights, not to mention encroach upon his freedom and life.” Kadyrov called on the Public Chamber members to “exercise civic control over the activities of the organs of power,” adding that “this will only be to the good.”

As Vek wrote on May 8: “Observers note that in spite of the ‘law-enforcement’ rhetoric, Ramzan Kadyrov, in demanding the abolition of ORB-2, is primarily concerned not about human rights, but about removing a large federal structure from the republic” (Chechnya Weekly, March 22, 29).