Chechnya: Residents Are Forced to Rent Their Own Land

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Human Rights Center Memorial

Mar 15, 2013, 10:16:05 AM3/15/13

Chechnya: Residents Are Forced to Rent Their Own Land

Residents of the village of Davydenko in the Achkhoy-Martan distict of Chechnya appealed to Memorial Human Rights Centre’s office in Grozny, in the Chechen Republic.

Based on the residents’ version of events, in June 2012 the head of the village of Davydenko, Sakhruddi Ismailov, and his secretary, Izat Kurbanova, informed the residents that they needed to submit an application addressed to the head of the Achkhoy-Martan municipal district, I.M. Dadaev, requesting to register the right to use their plots of land.

They told the residents that it was a question of privatising of the plots of land, which had belonged to them since the Soviet times and had been intended for permanent use. The residents own property on this land. Officials even came to some of the villagers’ homes to explain.

The residents then submitted applications to the authorities.

Shortly thereafter unknown men, accompanied by Izat Kurbanova, came to every house supposedly to fix boundaries to the plots. The men did not produce any documents and nothing was measured; yet they demanded four thousand roubles to fix the boundaries. The villagers paid the required amount to the village authorities. They were not provided with receipts immediately. They received them after a few weeks, and that was only after persistent requests.

After a while some people arrived to determine the price of the land. They said they were appraisers from Grozny. They were accompanied by Izat Kurbanova. For their services they demanded six thousand roubles to be paid to the authorities of Davydenko.

This time the majority of the residents refused to pay. In response to this they were threatened to have their gas and electricity supply cut off and their houses demolished. This frightened the residents and they paid the money. After this they demanded that the villagers sign documents. However, instead of privatisation documents they were presented with contracts on the rent of the land for a period of 49 years. In addition to this, the head of the administration announced that the residents would only obtain the boundary plans if they signed the contract.

Many villagers refused to sign the contract.

More serious threats followed from officials. The residents maintain that officers of the local authorities came to their houses accompanied by armed siloviks. They insinuated that those who had children shouldn’t behave so unwisely.

Following this the deputy head of the authorities of the Achkoy-Martan district came to the village. He announced that the residents of the village needed to sign the contract and “not create any problems.” In his account the official made some rather strange assertions. According to him, the 40 hectares of land, where the villagers’ homes stand, were given by the State Farm for the village authorities to use. It was the director of the Davydenko State Farm, Anisat Murtazalieva, who handed the land over.

The residents opposed the official. They claimed that even if that was correct, the actions of the State Farm were illegal. According to a representative of the regional authorities, it was  an order by the head of the republic and attempts by residents to submit a complaint would be useless.

The residents telephoned Murtazalieva to explain on what grounds, when and for which reasons their land was given to them by the village authorities. In response Anisat Murtazalieva was outraged by the assertion of the employee of the regional authorities. She claimed that she gave the authorities 40 hectares of agricultural land which was completely separate to the villagers’ land. Murtazalieva has expressed her willingness to confirm her words in court.

Meanwhile, eight families informed officials that their land had already been privatised. Bizarrely, the employees of the authorities continued to insist that the residents signed the rent contract anyway. An answer has still not been provided as to the basis on which the residents should rent their own land.

According to the residents, some families had already attempted to privatise their own land before the authorities demanded that they sign the rent contract. They could not do it however, because they did not have an extract from the rural household register, without which the district registration office does not deal with privatisation documents. Employees of the authorities rejected the applications due to an “order from above.” Which order they had in mind was not explained.

At the beginning of February the residents submitted a request to the government authorities of the Republic of Chechnya to investigate the situation. After a few days, Magomed Baskhanov, an employee of the government authorities, arrived accompanied by siloviks. The official explained that the residents could take their complaint straight to Putin himself, but they still had to to sign the contract. Village residents were not allowed to speak out.

In their appeal the villagers pointed out that the village officials’ claims have not stopped. A local police officer regularly made the rounds demanding a quicker signing of the rent contract and drawing up documents at the Registration Office. Otherwise the residents were threatened with a notice (the local police officer did not explain where and why they would not be summoned) and demolition of their properties.

Almost all the residents of Davydenko refused to sign the rent contract with the authorities. Meanwhile officials insisted on the signing of the documents. The village authorities even issued transport to deliver people to the Registration Office of the Achkoy-Martan district. Soon after, officials sent the residents documents, including boundary plans, which supposedly had their signatures on, but had been signed by another hand. In addition to this, the plans did not specify that there were built-up areas of private property and the plans did not name all streets.

According to Davydenko residents, those in the Registration Office claim that these contracts are illegal. However, they need to be registered because the authorities of the Achkoy-Martan district are exerting pressure on the employees of the Registration Office.

March 15, 2013

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