Human rights violations during anti-terrorist operations in the Republic of Ingushetia Contents Introduction 3


Methods used at the inquests and investigations of residents of the Republic of Ingushetia suspected of terrorism and of participation in illegal armed units



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2. Methods used at the inquests and investigations of residents of the Republic of Ingushetia suspected of terrorism and of participation in illegal armed units


After the Beslan tragedy, Ingushetia found itself on the black list of unreliable republics, has become a permanent area of the state policy of counter-terror. Torture in the places of preliminary detainment in respect of the residents of Ingushetia has acquired a systemic character. Here, just like in Chechnya, a conveyer of violence and of fabrication of criminal cases has been put into motion.

In Ingushetia the leadership of law-enforcement agencies redoubled its efforts to demonstrate its effectiveness in fighting terrorism. Law-enforcement agencies and special services of the North Caucasus republics were faced with the task of eliminating or bringing to justice participants in terrorist activities. One is left with the impression that, in fulfilling this task, law-enforcement agencies have completely abandoned the boundaries of law, inasmuch as they commit gravest violations of the inalienable rights.



Below we summarize the main characteristics of "counterterrorism operations" in Ingushetia deducted from the analysis of the information at Memorial’s disposal on unlawful detentions and abductions, complaints of the accused, their lawyers and relatives, and information and documents detailing cases of beatings and torture of detainees.

1. As in Chechnya, representatives of law-enforcement agencies often detain unlawfully people suspected of participating in illegal armed formations. The agents do not present any documentation or explain the motives for the detention and do not reveal the location to which the detainees are taken. Relatives of detainees do not know whether the FSB agents or bandits have taken their loved ones, and have no idea where they are located. Detainees usually "disappear" for some time (from several hours to several days).

2. Unlike Chechnya, in Ingushetia a substantial fraction of unlawfully detained (or abducted) people are "discovered" later in provisional detention facilities; not infrequently in North Osetia. Many of the abducted disappear without a trace.

3. Law-enforcement agents attempt to obtain confessions from detainees usually by the application of savage beatings and torture. There is ample witness testimony to suggest that detainees have been subjected to this treatment on the premises of the UBOP24, the Ingush Interior Ministry, in the Nazran police department, in the basement of the FSB building in Magas, in provisional detention facilities in North Osetia, and in locations of unlawful detention. A part of these cases have been documentarily confirmed.

4. The lawyer “on duty”25 at the investigations makes no record of the application of torture to suspect; neither does he require that the suspect receive medical treatment or undergo forensic medical examination to verify his condition. At this time relatives, more often than not, do not know the location of detainees and cannot get him a different lawyer. Even when a lawyer is hired by relatives, he is kept from seeing his client under various pretexts until the suspect has signed a confession.

5. The suspect is forced, under torture, to admit to the crimes of which he is accused (also to other as crimes registered as undisclosed with the local law-enforcement agencies), and is required to name people he knows to be involved in illegal activities or to incriminate other suspects of the investigation. "Even the most hardened people say it is impossible to bear this torture. Sooner or later, everyone breaks," said a lawyer working with this category of suspects. The human rights center Memorial has information on several cases when a suspect was delivered in serious condition to the hospital. There is evidence that, in addition to the beatings and torture, the detainee or arrestee is subjected to psychological pressure. For example, he may be threatened with sexual violence against himself or against his wife. Such threats are the most effective arguments in favor of "confession".

6. In the midst of the physical violence and psychological pressure, the man under investigation is told it is better for him to "cooperate" with the investigation and sign everything. Then the investigator can try to "help" him by remedying the situation after the matter has been turned over to the courts.

7. Confessions are usually signed in the FSB building or in the office of the criminal investigator and are then verified in the presence of lawyers. The detainee is not tortured at this time. He is warned, however, that should he refuse confession he will be "worked over" even more heavily. Should the detainee begin to refuse to give a statement as early as the preliminary investigation, the threats are made into reality. Suspects are instructed on the details of the crimes they have committed and are told what exactly they must say in their statements during the investigation.

8. Usually, the lawyer brought in by the relatives is granted access to the suspect only after the suspect has signed a confession. Even if the lawyer knows about the unlawful methods to which his client has been subjected, he often will not report this cruel treatment, fearing for his own safety. Some individuals do resolve to stand up to this system, but their petitions are rejected, and appeals to the General Prosecutor, the Commissioner for Human Rights, and Duma deputies go without attention.

9. It is the confession of the accused, in which he incriminates himself, which is the primary evidence of his guilt.

10. A lawyer is unlikely to be able to help his client at the stage of courtroom investigation if his client has incriminated himself under torture during the preliminary investigation. Until second half of 2005 suspects charged under Articles 205 (terrorism), 208 (participation in an illegal armed formation), and 209 (banditism), are, beyond rare exceptions, not given the right to a trial by jury. This is because, in 2004-2005 for more than a year, the President of Ingushetia did not approve a list of jurors for the Republic of Ingushetia, in violation of Articles 4 and 5 of the federal law "On jurors in federal courts in the general jurisdiction of the Russian Federation". Even if the matter is taken up by a court and jury, the question of the admissibility of evidence is decided in the absence of the panel of jurors (Article 335 of the criminal code of the RF). Lawyers and defendants are not allowed to discuss in front of the jury that the confession was obtained by torturing the defendant. Without this knowledge, it is difficult for jurors to arrive at a fair finding.

11. As is shown by the matter of Magomed Khamkhoev (see below), even when the application of violence to the accused is brought into the court's investigation, the court is incapable of discovering falsifications or of making a proper assessment of the violation of the law as it relates to the accused. Thus, the court cannot make a fair sentencing in the matter.

12. It is very difficult to document and authenticate instances of torture in provisional detention facilities, since independent doctors are not allowed to see the suspect. It is very difficult to obtain independent medical examinations.

13. Specialists from the International Committee of Red Cross do not visit suspects in provisional detention facilities. It was explained to Memorial staff by representatives of the organization in Ingushetia that "in 2004 the International Committee of Red Cross encountered problems which impeded this kind of activity from being undertaken in accordance with the standard criteria of the organization. As a result, the International Committee of Red Cross has had to temporarily cease visiting detainees."

In such a system, there are few chances for the guilty to be brought to justice and the innocent to be acquitted. Petitions to federal oversight agencies are forwarded to the oversight agencies of the republic, and are tabled by the very people who seek to conceal the violence and arbitrariness of law-enforcement agencies and special services.

In cases when security services fear they may encounter armed resistance, special operations are planned from the beginning such that the suspects are killed on the spot. Not a single one of the widely known and influential boeviks was taken alive, even though they could have provided investigators with valuable information. In such cases the lives of a large number of people are invariably placed in imminent danger, since members of the suspect's family, other people living in the building, and residents of neighboring homes are never evacuated.

A typical example is the special operation for the "neutralization" of the boevik Magomed Khashiev. The operation was conducted by agents of Russian law-enforcement agencies on 10 October, 2004, in the Gamurzievsk municipal region of Nazran (19 Chabiev street).

The family of Said-Magomed Khashiev (born 1977) was living temporarily at this address. Khashiev had two wives and four children. On the previous evening Said-Magomed's distant relative, Magomed Khashiev, arrived with his wife and four children and asked to shelter for a few days. Magomed Khashiev was wanted by law-enforcement agencies as a putative participant in the attack on Ingushetia on the night of 21 to 22 June, 2004. Said-Magomed did not want to let the guests in, explaining that he didn't want to put his family in danger. The men argued, but in the end Magomed Khashiev remained.

On the evening of 10 October representatives of federal and Ingush law-enforcement agencies arrived and surrounded with armored vehicles the neighborhood on which Said-Magomed Khashiev's house was located. A group of soldiers in masks (approximately seven men) entered the house and cursorily surveyed the rooms in which the Khashiev wives and children were located, exited the house, and opened fire on the building with automatic weapons, grenade launchers attached to automatic weapons, and handheld grenade launchers. The women screamed at the soldiers to cease fire on account of the children in the house. The bombardment continued until the roof collapsed. In the ruins were three wounded women and eight children. They managed to crawl out of the wreckage. The soldiers did not help them, but shouted at the blood-soaked women and children to go faster, and continued to shoot. After about 40 minutes the soldiers were replaced by agents of Ingush law-enforcement agencies, who then delivered to the hospital in Nazran the Khashiev wives and children, who had all miraculously survived. Magomed and Said-Magomed Khashiev were killed.

In planning this operation, representatives of security agencies did not attempt to ensure the safety of local residents or avoid possible civilian casualties. In order to "neutralize" one boevik, they were prepared to kill three women and eight children. Even when they had the chance, law-enforcement agents did not evacuate them.

"Counter-terrorism operations" conducted in this way have the gravest of consequences.

The most evident conclusion is that the cruel treatment of detainees and arrestees during the preliminary investigation inevitably leads to judicial mistakes. Thus, in the matter of the boevik attack on Ingushetia on 21 to 22 June, 2004, attorneys expected four of the thirteen defendants to be acquitted due to the total absence of evidence. "There is no evidence of the participation of these suspects in the attack on Ingushetia. Moreover, in the remaining nine cases the evidence is unconvincing. It seems that not a single one of the attack's organizers and not a single leader of boeviks has been detained," explained staff of the human rights organization. The hopes of the lawyers proved to be unjustified, and there is serious ground to suspect that innocent men went behind bars for long prison terms based on fabricated cases. One can only guess what kind of people these men shall become if and when they return from prison is anyone's guess.

Meanwhile, today — as during the "counter-terrorism operation" of the 1930s after Kirov was assassinated on 1 December, 1934 — the personal confession of the accused is still the primary evidence of his guilt. Any doubts as to the legitimacy of this approach are treated by supporters of "effective" methods of fighting terrorism as attempts to defend criminals. The Directorate of Public Prosecutions and independent courts are supposed to defend, not only the arrested from arbitrariness, but the investigative organs as well — from possible mistakes. The victims of these mistakes are not only the convicted, but all of us, everyone who is at liberty.

In contrast to 1937, in Russia today there is a real, not imaginary, terrorist underground. The arrest and conviction of innocents means that the real criminals are going free, and are given the chance to commit new crimes.

The second consequence is already known to us from Chechnya: these "counter-terrorism" measures destabilize the situation and only strengthen the position of the terrorist underground. News of the cruelty of investigations and judicial arbitrariness becomes immediately known across the republic. The terrorist underground is provided with a recruitment base and the chance to attract those who have suffered themselves or who want to avenge their relatives. For others the motive to take up arms may be one of personal protest against the arbitrariness of the security services. Many residents of Ingushetia, in conversations with representatives of Memorial, have asserted that the magnitude of the boeviks' raid on 21-21 June is explained namely by this effect — as an answer to the violence of law-enforcement agencies on the territory of Ingushetia during 2003 and 2004.

Today the grave foundations for a civil war are being laid. Ingushetia is a small republic and the "Ingushization" of the conflict could happen very quickly. In any case, the intra-civilian antagonisms which have been ignited in the republics seized by this conflict will be doing their destructive work across the entire North Caucasus for many years to come.

3. Ingushetia in 2005: examples of detention operations against those suspected of terrorist activity and participation in illegal armed formations, and of the investigations of their crimes


In this section of the report we will adduce information collected by Memorial on individual cases where there are grounds to assert or to suspect there has been unlawful detention, torture, and falsification of evidence against those suspected of participating in illegal armed formations or of terrorist activity. We have included only the most revealing and evident cases in the report. Our information, incidentally, is quite meager. Officials prefer not to answer the inquiries of human rights workers. Victims of torture and their relatives and lawyers all fear for their safety and prepare to remain silent. Therefore, in some matters there is less information than in others.

We also introduce other types of evidence. Memorial has received statements regarding torture conducted in provisional detention facilities from the people accused of crimes. The script of "working" with the man under investigation, the assortment of torture methods, and other illicit methods of physical and psychological coercion are repeated from instance to instance. Occasionally, the descriptions of the premises in which the people were tortured are in general agreement. The information we have collected is more than enough to conclude that there must be a comprehensive investigation of methods employed by law-enforcement agencies in Ingushetia and North Osetia-Alania in the fight against terrorism and illegal armed formations.

For a real investigation of this sort is to take place — a review in which the examiners are not afraid to disclose instances of violation of the law and to hold officials responsible should such instances be discovered — there is one prerequisite which is, at the moment, absent: and this is political will.

3.1. The unlawful detention and death of Adam Gorchkhanov

On 23 May, 2005, around 6:00 in the village Plievo in the Nazran district of Ingushetia, Adam Gorchkhanov (born 1968) was abducted from the Gorchkhanov house at 6 Gorchkhanov street by unidentified agents of an Ingush law-enforcement agency. Adam Gorchkhanov was mentally challenged.

According to relatives, representatives of security services arrived at their home early in the morning in several UAZ automobiles, a white Gazel microbus, and an armored personnel carrier. There were more than forty of servicemen. Several of them, in masks, spoke in both Russian and Ingush. None of them identified themselves or presented any documents.

The security servicemen burst into Adam's room and began beating him, demanding that he surrender his weapon. At that moment, his younger brother Bashir Gorchkhanov (born 1970) was being beaten in the neighboring room. An unsanctioned search was conducted in the house, and two photo albums and several documents, among them the passports of Adam and Bashir, were seized. These events were all recorded on video camera. Upon finishing their search the visitors declared they had found two pistols. However, the official record of the search was not given to the owners of the house to sign, and the Gorchkhanovs saw no witnesses. The security servicemen left with Adam Gorchkhanov. They did not inform relatives where they would take him.

The Gorchkhanovs appealed that same day with written statements about Adam's abduction to the district and republican public prosecutor's offices and to the local branch of the FSB of Ingushetia. They also addressed declarations to General Prosecutor of the RF Ustinov, Director of the FSB of the RF Patrushev, and Deputy of the Duma of Ingushetia Kodzoev. A.M. Marzaganov, senior assistant to the Nazran prosecutor, released a decree on the appointment of a forensic medical examination of the bodily injuries of Bashir Gorchkanov. In the decree he cited the possible complicity of agents of the OMON of the Interior Ministry of Ingushetia in Adam's abduction and Bashir's beating26.

Only after three days, on 26 May, did relatives learn through they lawyer that Adam Gorchkhanov was in SIZO (temporary detainment facility) in the city Vladikavkaz. On 27 May he ‘disappeared’ again. As was revealed later, after Adam was slated for preventive punishment, he was transported illegally from preliminary detainment to the UBOP of Vladikavkaz.

On 28 May the relatives learnt that Adam was located in the Central Hospital of the Republic of North Osetia-Alania. According to police, Adam jumped from the fourth floor of the UBOP building in Vladikavkaz. Hospital workers reported that Gorchkhanov had been hospitalized with a serious closed craniocerebral injury27.

On 31 May, Adam Gorchkhanov died of his injuries. According to his relatives, there were no fractions on his body, but there were numerous signs of beating and torture. The relatives, however, did not wish to order a second forensic medical examination, and buried the body.

An inquiry was made on this matter by the Chairman of the President of the RF's Council for Assistance to the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights. The inquiry was answered28 by N.I. Shepel, Deputy General Prosecutor of the RF, in which he wrote that A.A. Gorchkhanov was detained on suspicion of crimes covered by Article 209.2 (banditism) of the criminal code of the RF. In the course of the search, and in the presence of witnesses29, a pistol was discovered in the Gorchkhanov home which had been stolen during an armed attack on a warehouse of the Interior Ministry of Ingushetia on the night of 21-22 June, 2004. It follows from this reply that the search of the house was unsanctioned. It was only on the following day that the Lenin district court of Vladikavkaz retroactively declared the search to be lawful, due to its urgency. On 25 May the same court ruled that Gorchkhanov should be confined under guard as a preventive measure. In that period (24 May) Gorchkhanov, who as far as his relatives knew had "disappeared" leaving no clue about his fate, testified told investigators where the weapon was cached. On 27 May, on orders of the public prosecutor, Gorchkhanov was taken to the department against organized crime of the Interior Ministry of North Osetia-Alania. It was here that he threw himself from the fourth-floor window. The findings of the forensic medical examination were that death was caused by a brain contusion as a result of craniocerebral trauma. "The abrasions and fractures on the body are the effects of blunt hard objects with a large surface, most likely acquired by a staggered fall from a significant height."




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