Russia is responsible for the disappearance of three men in 2006-2007 from Chechnya and Dagestan, rules European Court

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SRJI Russian Justice Initiative

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Jun 12, 2012, 7:13:46 AM6/12/12
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Russia is responsible for the disappearance of three men in 2006-2007
from Chechnya and Dagestan, rules European Court
Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The European Court of Human Rights has found Russia responsible for
the enforced disappearance of two men from Chechnya in 2006 and one
man from Dagestan in 2007, Russian Justice Initiative and its
Moscow-based partner organization "Astreya" reported today.

The applicants in Umayevy v Russia, represented by Russian Justice
Initiative, are the close relatives of Vidzha Umayev and Timur
Mezhidov, who disappeared after being detained near the village of
Yarash-Mardy, Chechnya in July 2006. The applicants in Umarovy v
Russia, represented by Memorial Human Rights Centre, are the father
and sister of Ramazon Umarov, who was arrested in Makhachkala,
Dagestan in April 2007 and subsequently disappeared.

On 14 July 2006 Vidzha Umayev and Timur Mezhidov were driving with
Vidzha's mother when they were stopped near the village of
Yarash-Mardy by three Chechen servicemen, who got into their vehicle
and drove off, leaving Vidzha's mother behind. The applicants
immediately reported their relatives' detention to the Shatoy
authorities and were told that Vidzha and Timur had been abducted by
servicemen from the "Vostok" battalion, also known as "Yamadayevtsy."

Approximately ten days after the abduction, the applicants were
visited by an officer of the GRU (General Intelligence Directorate)
who took them to a military base in Borzoy, Chechnya to meet with a
GRU Colonel and commander of the 921st regiment, known as "Radzhabov."
The Colonel confirmed that Vidzha was being held at the military base.
In November 2006 the same GRU officer, in exchange for a payment of 50
000 roubles (about 1 700 USD), told the applicants that Vidzha and
Timur had been shot and were buried in one of three mass graves in
Borzoy.

The official investigation into Vidzha and Timur's abduction found
that Colonel "Radzhabov" had colluded with two other servicemen from
the Vostok battalion to kidnap the two men, and six months after the
abduction his name was put on the wanted list. However the
investigation made no tangible progress and many crucial investigative
steps were never carried out. The Government refused to submit any
documents from the criminal case file to the Court.

The Umarovy case concerns the disappearance of Ramazan Umarov, who was
arrested along with two other men who were subsequently charged with
illegal possession of firearms. Ramazan had been staying with the two
men in their flat in Makhachkala to avoid harassment by the local
authorities in Kirov, Dagestan, who had been threatening to put
Ramazan behind bars. The applicants received information that their
son was being held in Gudermes, Chechnya, but soon all trace of him
was lost. The investigation was repeatedly suspended for a failure to
identify the perpetrators.

In its unanimous judgments, the European Court found that:

The right to life has been violated in respect of Vidzha Umayev,
Timur Mezhidov and Ramazan Umarov (Article 2 of the European
Convention on Human Rights);
The Russian authorities have failed to conduct an effective
investigation into the above violations (Article 2);
The manner in which the applicant's complaints were dealt with by
the Russian authorities constituted inhuman treatment (Article 3);
Vidzha Umayev, Timur Mezhidov and Ramazan Umarov were unlawfully
deprived of their liberty (Article 5);
The applicants did not have access to an effective remedy before
the Russian authorities for the violations (Article 13 in conjunction
with Article 2 of the Convention).

The applicants were awarded а total of 180 000 euro in respect of
moral damages in both cases.

For more information,

In Moscow, Anastasia Kushleyko, Legal Director, "Astreya:" +7 (495)
915-0869, +7 (962) 932-7878.

In Moscow, Vanessa Kogan, Executive Director, Russian Justice
Initiative; Director, "Astreya": +7 (495) 915-0869, +7 925 863 5111.
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