Tajiks Detained Last Year Convicted of Possession of Weapons
The verdict of the so-called 'Tajik Case'
) has been put
into action. Of the six Tajiks who were originally accused and the
twenty Dagestanis questioned during the trial, two appeared in the
dock – Alisher Otadzhonzade and Akbardzhon Otaboev.
On November 3rd 2011 in Ostankinsky district court in Moscow, both
pleaded guilty to violating pt. 2 art. 222 (illegal acquisition,
transfer, sale, possession, transport, or carrying of weapons or the
basic components thereof, ammunition, explosive materials, or
explosive devices) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation
(CCRF). They were sentenced to two and a half years' imprisonment in
a standard regime penal colony. They began serving their sentence on
November 2nd 2010, i.e. in three months' time the convicts will be
able to apply for early release on parole.
Recall that on October 15th 2010, several unidentified persons in
civilian clothes turned up at the hut near Mir Avenue in Moscow
where three dozen working immigrants from Tajikistan lived. They
began searching the place, walking round the room asking irrelevant
questions. The same people returned on October 19th claiming to be
working for the criminal investigation department, but did not
produce any documents and did not introduce themselves. The men
asked the inhabitants to identify persons in some very old
photographs, they were on wanted list in Uzbekistan. No-one
recognised the individuals.
That evening, on returning home from work, one of the immigrants
went to do his laundry. When he pulled a basin out from under his
bed, he found a packet of extremist pamphlets. The packet did not
belong to any of the lodgers. He decided, on reflection, not to
inform the police about this discovery, but to eliminate it, and
wasted no time in doing so.
The next day, October 20th, several cars turned up at the
immigrants' home carrying representatives of various security
agencies wearing masks (the lodgers reckon they were working for the
Federal Security Service (FSS) and the Ministry of Internal
Affairs), as well as a bomb technician, photographers, and dogs.
They got the men down on the floor, handcuffed them, and beat three
of them. They searched the place. The bed under which the pamphlets
had been found was smashed to pieces. They were busy for a long time
in the house. The women saw that some black packages were brought
onto the premises. The whole affair lasted more than three hours.
After the search the inhabitants were told that an explosive device
had been found on the premises.
At around 11pm members of the secret service who had carried out the
operation drove off with ten men and three schoolchildren. For a day
no-one knew where they were.
Following searches on October 21st, six of the detainees were found
in the Alekseevski Department of Internal Affairs (DIA).
The three children were being kept in the City Children's Hospital №
21 for homeless children. One of the children's fathers released his
child after paying a 'fine' – with no receipt – of 2000 rubles.
On October 22nd members of the Committee 'Civic Assistance' called
the hospital and received confirmation that the police were not
allowing the doctor to release the children. It was only on Monday
October 25th that our lawyer could speak with police officers and
managed to convince them to release the children without a 'fine'.
In the evening of October 22nd we finally found out that all six
detainees were being held under administrative arrest for twelve
days. The police officers could not give the reason for this
punishment. Another three were being held in a detention centre for
foreign citizens who are sentenced to deportation.
It eventually emerged that the detainees were being held in Moscow
DIA special detention facility №1 for administrative detention and
arrest. On October 25th we asked three lawyers to defend the
detainees: two members of the 'Migration and Law' Network at Human
Rights Centre 'Memorial', Emil Taubulatov and Roman Onishchenko, and
a lawyer from the Committee 'Civic Assistance' Gulnara Bobodzhanova
(for further information on this see 'Is an extremism trial in the
The defence lawyers studied the case materials on the administrative
offences and found that, according to them, the immigrants were not
taken from their premises, but were arrested outside, where they
swore obscenely and resisted arrest.
All the convicts told their lawyers that while they were in custody
they were repeatedly visited by members of the FSS who offered their
co-operation and tried to get them to sign some bit of paper,
promising that they would be released immediately afterwards. The
arrested men all said that they wanted to have a lawyer present, but
this did not happen. One of the men was so intimidated that he
signed the paper, but, of course, he was not released.
When the lawyers asked workers at the detention centre on what
grounds the FSS employees were punishing the detainees in such a
way, they replied that 'they [the FSS – S. G.] always do this, and
there's nothing to be done about it.'
In accordance with protocol, the administrative arrest ended on
November 2nd at 2.10am. Lawyers and relatives of the detainees
waited outside the detention centre from morning. However, at 6pm,
the defence lawyers were informed that their clients would not be
released as the FSS had received information about them. The lawyers
asked to meet with their clients. After much pressure, workers at
the detention centre eventually admitted that the Tajiks had been
already been moved elsewhere by FSS employees.
Our worst fears were confirmed.
At 10am on November 2nd a court hearing had been held to decide the
measure of restraint for the nine detained Tajiks. They were all
sentenced to be taken into custody.
The lawyers began meticulously working on a plan. They appealed,
unsuccessfully, against unlawful detainment, decisions about the
administrative offences, and violations to detention regulations by
the administration of the special detention centre (for further
information on the extremism trial see:
During their work the lawyers learnt many interesting things about
the 'investigation' of the 'Tajik case'. Up to the first
interrogation, the case materials contain explanations of the facts
by the detainees in fluent Russian. From these explanations it was
easy to come to the conclusion that they were planning a terrorist
It is our guess (though nothing more) that this case was intended to
support the Russian Supreme Court's revelation on February 14th 2003
of a number of terrorist organisations, including the 'Islamic
Freedom Party' ('Hizb ut-Tahrir'). For all this party's doubtful
activity, it has never been involved in any terrorist activity. This
is a fault which needs to be corrected in the 'Tajik case', since
all the inhabitants of the bunkhouse were supposed to be announced
as members of 'Hizb ut-Tahrir'.
The FSS intended to bring yet more Russian 'members' of the
organisation into the 'Tajik case'. To this end, on December 7th
2010, a number of searches were carried out at the Moscow homes of
two dozen North Caucasians. During one of these searches a monitor
for HRC 'Memorial', Bakhrom Khamroev, was beaten
Those detained during the proceedings were taken to be interrogated,
where our lawyers revealed that they were again searched and
questioned on the 'Tajik case'.
Our lawyers work nearly led to the case being abandoned; the
Caucasians went back home, some further, for their sins, the Tajiks
refused to denounce each other nor to sign confessions of guilt
without the presence of a lawyer or interpreter.
It is possible that nothing more would have come of the case were it
not for the interference of a relative of two accused brothers. The
relative was not accustomed to the way our lawyers work: as they do
not accept money, this must mean they are bad professionals, so they
will not have anything to offer the inspector, and will not arrive
at an agreement with him.
The inspector arranged a meeting for the relative with the brothers,
where he convinced the elder to plead guilty and to co-operate with
the investigation. The younger then needed to collude with this
version of events. We will not name the elder brother as his case
is apart from this one and is being considered seperately.
In the end, only two remained in the dock: the younger of the
'confessor' brothers, Alisher Otadzhonzade, and one of our clients
who was taken in by Alisher, Akbardzhon Otaboev.
As mentioned earlier, they were both sentenced to 2.5 years'
imprisonment in a standard regime penal colony.
Why, given the current situation such an outcome for the 'Tajik
case' is almost a victory. Almost.
November 25, 2011