The head of the International Committee on Problems of the North Caucasus, Ruslan Kutaev, has said that a group of prisoners in Chechnya’s notorious Chernokozovo remand prison colony claim they have been the victims of beatings and torture at the hands of their jailers, Kavkazky Uzel reported on January 9. Kutaev, a former envoy of Aslan Maskhadov, the late Chechen president and rebel leader, told Ekho Moskvy Radio that 124 Chernokozovo inmates had signed a complaint that was sent to him. The complaint was also sent to Russia’s human rights ombudsman, the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office and Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, charging that healthy prisoners were being held together with prisoners infected with HIV and tuberculosis, and that prisoners had not been issued either underwear or bedding. He also said that prison staff was subjecting prisoners to “torture and beatings,” and that it cannot be ruled out “spontaneous disturbances” will erupt in the colony.
Kavkazky Uzel noted that at the start of 2007, Chechen human rights ombudsman Nurdi Nukhazhiev also cited problems at the Chernokozovo remand prison, where, he said, inmates with tuberculosis and psychological disorders were being held together with healthy individuals. Nukhazhiev said 20 inmates had complained that evidence had been extracted from them using “illict and legally forbidden methods” but added that they had refused to register official complaints about torture, citing fears of reprisals by prison staff. As Kavkazky Uzel then reported, the press service of the Chechen prime minister said the abuses had been committed not by Chernokozovo employees, but by staffers ORB-2, an operative-investigative unit of the Southern Federal District’s main Interior Ministry department. Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov has also accused ORB-2 of torture and other abuses in Chechnya (Chechnya Weekly, March 22, 2007).