3.4. The case of Magomed Tsakhigov and Alikhan Ibragimov
Magomed Tsakhigov and Alikhan Ibgragimov, residents of the Goity village in the Urus-Martanovsky district of Chechnya, are accused of being members of an illegal armed formation from May to November 2002 and of participating in combat operations, including an attack on the village Martan-Chu.
The young men are also accused of taking part in the boevik attack on Ingushetia on 21-22 June, 2004. As of this report's release date, their case was being reviewed by the Supreme Court of the Republic of Ingushetia.
Takhigov and Ibragimov were indicted under Articles 205.3 (terrorism), 208.2 (participation in illegal armed formations), 209.2 (banditism), and 222.2 and 222.3 (unlawful possession of firearms) of the criminal code of the RF.
Both defendants were detained during a "cleanup operation" at the Altievo camp on 23 June 2004, where they were living as IDPs. In addition to them, around 50 men were also detained that day (see above).
According to the prosecution, all night from 21 to 22 June Tsakhigov and Ibragimov were in position by a gas station near the bridge across the Alkhan-Churskii canal, not far from the Altievo milk farm. With them was, supposedly, another man by the name of Turpal. The three of them fired into the air and at targets — cars approaching the bridge on the road from the side of the weapons warehouse. Ibragimov fired one and a half magazines of 7.62-mm rounds from a Kalashnikov. Tsakhigov fired even more rounds.
During the preliminary investigation, both of the accused gave self-incriminating testimony.
The following is excerpted from Tsakhigov's statement, which came was delivered to Memorial's Nazran office from the temporary detention center of the Interior Ministry of Ingushetia on 10 June 2005.
"On that day [23 June, 2004, in the city Prim; — Memorial], Alikhan and I were at home. Suddenly we heard women screaming and ran out of the room. In the corridor we were immediately stopped. Armed men in uniforms and masks threw us to the ground, then took us away to the Interior Ministry and began beating us, without even saying why they were beating us. Then they started asking us about the combat uniform they found in our barracks — who did it belong to? Also they asked what boeviks I knew and whether I was a boevik myself and whether I'd participated in the boevik attack on Ingushetia on the 21st. During this time we were tortured in various ways. The next day the torture was even worse. They weren't asking me anything anymore, just trying to make me confess to being part of the attack on Ingushetia in a band of boeviks. I tried to tell them I was innocent and asked them to give me a lie-detector test. After the lie-detector they beat me less and demanded that I sign a paper admitting that I was at least part of an illegal armed formation. I agreed so they wouldn't torture me anymore, and I said I was in the band of Doka Umarov from May to September 2002 since I knew that I could later prove I wasn't in Ingushetia at that time, in the stanitsa Troitskaya.I lived in an apartment there, the owners of the house would testify. The district police officer made a note of my living there in his journal.
"After the torture in the sixth [division] /he means UBOP- “Memorial”/of the Ingush Interior Ministry, where I signed the confession, I had seven broken ribs, a broken upper jaw, a broken right foot, and badly injured hands. When they took me after all of that to the temporary detention center of the Interior Ministry of North Osetia — and then to preliminary detainment at the local branch of the FSB of North Osetia — doctors examined me and made notes in their journals that I had the above injuries.
"I was in preliminary detainment at the FSB from 27 June to 22 July, 2004, and every day they took me to the sixth division of the Interior Ministry of North Osetia, to beat me. But not as bad as in the beginning.
"My friend A.A. Ibragimov couldn't bear the torture and signed a paper which supposedly contained his confession to participating in the attack on Ingushetia on 21-22 June, 2004. In particular it said that we stood with machine guns on a bridge across the Alkhan-Churtskii canal, which is next to the temporary detention center where we lived, and that we shot into the air and tried to stop the cars going by.
"In fact, Ibragimov and I were at home on the farm. From about 22:00 we were sitting with neighbors on a bench in the farm yard. The neighbors confirmed this in court. They also said that there was nobody standing on the bridge where Ibragimov and I had supposedly stood and fired, and that there was nobody shooting. A resident whose house is 10 meters from that bridge stated in court that on that bridge and in the surrounding area there was nobody shooting, and in general there was nobody at all. This can also be confirmed by his folks at home, who stood outside with him until morning, listening to what was happening in the city.
"We're being tried by a court of jurors, and in the presence of jurors it's forbidden to raise procedural questions. So we can't tell the jurors about the torture which we were subjected to, or the mutilations or beatings which we were given, and how we signed the papers.
"Without the whole truth of the matter, the jurors could come to a mistaken verdict.
"I ask you and your organization to defend my rights and protect me against the excesses of the authorities."
The following is excerpted from the statement of Ibragimov, which was delivered to Memorial's Nazran office from the temporary detention center of the Ingush Interior Ministry on 8 June, 2005.
"On the night of the boeviks' attack on Ingushetia, 21-22 June, Tsakhigov and I, having eaten after evening prayers, went out into the yard of our barracks and sat on a bench with other residents of our barracks. That was around 10 o'clock. While we were sitting on the bench there was gunfire from the direction of Nazran. The other residents didn't know what the shooting was about and they started to debate whether the shooting was because of a lunar eclipse, according to Vainakh custom. But when the shooting intensified and the explosions started, we knew it was some kind of boevik attack on Nazran. All night Magomed Tsakhigov and I stayed right there on the bench in our yard with the others, who can confirm this. At three in the morning Tsakhigov and I went into our room to sleep.
"On 23 June, 2004, Tsakhigov and I, along with other guys — children of IDPs — were detained during a cleanup operation in our IDP camp. They took us to some kind of office, then I realized it was the Interior Ministry building. They put my shirt on my head so I couldn't see their faces, and they started to beat me brutally. They beat me with the butts of their rifles, strangled me, tied my hands, beat me on the head and body with truncheons, and gave me many other kinds of torture. They demanded that I confess to participating in the attack on Nazran on the night of 21-22 June, but when they realized I didn't have any connection with boeviks and the attack on Nazran, they began demanding that I sign documents saying I participated in the attack. But I refused to sign. Then they started to beat me again, but this time they demanded that I sign documents saying I was a boevik and that during the summer of 2002 I was in the forest in the Chechen Republic among boeviks. They told me that if I signed it they wouldn't touch me again. I couldn't bear the torture any longer, so I agreed, I signed the papers hoping that they wouldn't beat me anymore.
"But half an hour after that they handed me over to the UBOP in the city of Nalchik and told them I was a boevik. Then the men at UBOP started beating me. And when I told them the truth they laughed and said they didn't care about my innocence or my witnesses and that I would sign everything they told me to. And so they continued to torture me in various ways for several hours. Then one of them took a pistol and put my fingerprints on it by pressing my fingers against it, then put the pistol in a plastic bag and said to me: either you sign what I tell you to now, or we take you outside and shoot you and say that you shot yourself — your prints are on the gun. But before we do that we'll rape you and tape it on video.
"Physically and morally, I couldn't bear any more of this torture and humiliation. I said I would sign. Then they made me write a confession under dictation saying that I participated in the attack on Nazran on the night of 21-22 June, and they forced me to incriminate Magomed Tsakhigov, who they hadn't been able to force into confession.
"On the next day they took me away to the city Vladikavkaz. There, under pressure, I signed all the papers, and also some blank pages. Then they threw me in the SIZO at the Vladikavkaz branch of the FSB. They took me out several times and made me sign more papers. After a month, on 3 August, 2004, when I was in preliminary detainment at the Vladikavkaz branch of the FSB, I requested a new lawyer in the person of Magomed-Girei Nalgiev. I wanted to prove my innocence with his help.
"But on the second day, 4 August, two criminal investigation officers came to me and began to threaten me. They said — what are you up to? Sit quietly and if you move a muscle we'll take you to Stavropol and torture you again. They demanded that I repudiated my request for a change of lawyer. After a few days the first lawyer, Laura Khumaryants,came to me and I confided in her, I told her the whole truth about how they tortured me and that I had no connection whatsoever with what they were accusing me of. I told her I'd signed it under torture, and I gave her the names of my witnesses, who could confirm my innocence. After another week she came back with the investigator and they said I should tell them the truth so they could get to the bottom of things. I told the investigator where Tsakhigov and I were on the night of 21-22 June, the night of the boeviks' attack on Nazran, and I gave him the names of our witnesses, who could confirm our innocence.
"The investigator wrote it all down. But he didn't question our witnesses and didn't verify our innocence. He closed the matter and handed it over to the court. I also want to note that they never photographed my beatings — not in the temporary detention center in Vladikavkaz and not in solitary at the Vladikavkaz branch of the FSB. I think the investigator had some kind of arrangement with them not to leave any trace of my beatings. It's because of this torture that my jaw bone is injured.
"I ask you to help me defend my rights, as I am not guilty of anything — not only regarding the night of 21-22 June, 2004, but in general. In my whole life I've never been part of any combat actions, and the only trial I am receiving is one of the legal arbitrariness of the authorities."
In light of these statements, it is significant that the lawyer L. Khumaryants made no petition for a forensic medical examination and did not address a complaint to the public prosecutor's office regarding the torture of her client.
The statements of the accused naturally do not prove that his confession was obtained under torture. But they do some serious doubts regarding the admissibility of the evidence presented to the court and require further detailed investigation.
There are other facts which multiply these doubts. For example, according to witness testimony (a group of about six people who were situated in the immediate vicinity of the bridge by the milk farm Altievo), there were no boeviks at all standing around the gas station, and the gunfire did not come from that direction. Other witnesses and residents of milk farm Altievo confirmed that the young men were located that night on the premises of the milk farm.
In addition, 11 shell casings were found in the vicinity of the gas station (one 7.62-mm and ten 5.45-mm caliber). According to the prosecution, however, Tsakhigov and Ibragimov were carrying 7.62-mm-caliber rifles and each of them shot one and a half magazines. Therefore there should have been at least 90 shell casings and their caliber should have matched the rifle: 7.62 mm.
The court investigation in the matter of Tsakhigov and Ibragimov is drawing to an end. Memorial hopes for a fair decision by jury. According to Article 335 of the criminal code of the RF, however, questions on the admissibility of evidence are reviewed in the absence of jurors. Therefore, the prosecution has boldly built its case on the confessions of the accused, which were made during the preliminary investigation.
On August 3, 2005 the Jury of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Ingushetia ruled that Ibragimov Alikhan and Tsakhigov Magomed were guilty of crimes stipulated by article 205.3 (terrorism), 208.2 (participation in illegal armed formations), 209.2 (banditism), 222.2, 222.3 (illegal storage of firearms) of the criminal code of the Russian Federation and sentenced them to to 13 years and 14 years in prison respectively.
3.5. The case of Bekkhan Gireev
On 4 May, 2005, in an interview with the radio station Echo of Moscow, Deputy of the Ingush Parliament Musa Ozdoev spoke about a resident of the city Nazran by the name of Gireev, with whom he was in the temporary detention center of the Interior Ministry in Nazran from 30 April to 1 May, 2005 (Ozdoev had been detained by Ingush police while attempting to carry out a protest in Nazran). Ozdoev asserts that Gireev and other people there were cruelly tortured by police officers and regularly beaten. According to Ozdoev, they were trying to obtain a confession from Gireev regarding his participation in a conspiracy to assassinate the president of Ingushetia.
The Ingush Interior Ministry refuted this information and threatened to take Deputy Ozdoev to court for libel.
In June 2005 another deputy, Mukhtar Buzurtanov (chairman of the commission on legislation, legality, law and order, and security of the People's Assembly of Ingushetia) stated that he had spoken personally with Gireev in the presence of Gireev's lawyer in the preliminary detainment cell. "Gireev told me personally that no unlawful actions of any kind on the part of the temporary detention center officers had been undertaken with regard to himself," Buzurtanov said (Interfax).
Memorial workers were able to ascertain that Gireev was in fact not tortured in an IVS in Ingushetia. He was tortured in law-enforcement establishments in the city Vladikavkaz.
Memorial is in possession of the following information in the matter of Bekkhan Gireev.
On 26 April in Nazran, the local resident Bekkhan Gireev (12/1 Mashinostroitelei street) was detained by the “Imperial” gas station.
According to Bekkhan's brother, Adam Gireev, district police officer B.M.-C. Ugurchiev came to the Gireev residence in the morning. He had a subpoena from the prosecutor's office obliging Bekkhan to appear on 26 April at the prosecutor's office to give testimony. The district police officer had already come to the house one week before to take written testimony from the owner of the house, Magomed Gireev, regarding the whereabouts of his son Bekkhan Gireev on the night of 21 to 22 June, 2004. This time (one week later) the officer explained that Bekkhan was being summoned on that matter. Ugurchiev said he had lost Magomed Gireev's testimony and that, therefore, Bekkhan would have to give it anew, but in the prosecutor's office this time.
Bekkhan was not at home, as he was repairing his car at a mechanic's. His brother asked the police officer to wait and himself telephoned Bekkhan. When Bekkhan came home, the police officer had tired of waiting and gone. Bekkhan stayed a short time at home and returned to the mechanic's. His brother Adam went with him.
They stopped on Kartoev street around the “Imperial” gas station. Adam was supposed to drop off Bekkhan and drive further to the city Karabulak. At that moment several men ran up to the car, one in civilian clothes and the others in camouflage. They spun Bekkhan around, bent him over the hood of the car, placed a cellophane bag over his head, and put him in a car (a VAZ-2109 or VAZ-2107, color mother-of-pearl, with the numbers 056). The men advised Bekkhan's brother Adam to address himself to the local Interior Ministry for an explanation. During the seizure Gireev's pistol was taken.
At 16:00 on the same day, officers of the mobile division of the Russian Interior Ministry came to the Gireev home, headed by Col. V.I. Safonov, Investigator for Particularly Important Matters of the Main Division of the Russian Interior Ministry in the Southern Federal District. The men had a search warrant and searched the home. Nothing unlawful was found during the search. On the evening of the same day an unidentified person telephoned the Gireevs at home and informed them that Bekkhan was located in the city Vladikakaz at the address 4 Kosta Khetagurova street (the North Caucasus office of the General Prosecutor of the RF) and offered to hire a lawyer for them.
Several days later Gireev was transferred to Ingushetia and placed in preliminary detainment in the Republican Police Department of Ingushetia. At this time Ibragim Bekov, the lawyer hired by Bekkhan's relatives, joined the case; the lawyer on duty there, Laura Khumaryants, who represented the interests of the suspect while he was in Osetia, left the case.
According to Bekov's testimony, Gireev had been badly beaten. At the insistence of his lawyer, the suspect was hospitalized in the Central Republic Hospital in Nazran, where in the course of three weeks he underwent two operations for his kneecaps. Forensic expertise medical office of North Osetia conducted a forensic medical examination to establish the state of Gireev's health. On the evidence of the violence applied to Gireev, a criminal case was opened by the republic's prosecutor's office of North Osetia (investigator Danshin).
Bekkhan Gireev is charged under Articles 209 (banditism) and 222 (unlawful possession of firearms).
The defendant does not deny his participation in an illegal armed formation.
3.6. The case of Khasan Egiev
On 1 April, 2005, at 14:30, in the town of Malgobek in the Republic of Ingushetia, Khasan Egiev, born 1978; resident of 65 Kievskaya street, was abducted by representatives of an unidentified law-enforcement agency.
According to Egiev's mother, Khasan was taken from a bus going to the village Voznesenovskaya in the Malgobekskii district. Four or six passenger cars approached the bus. Two men armed with machine guns got out of a car. They boarded the bus, seized Egiev, put him into a car, and left in an unknown direction. Before they left, Khasan had time to shout his name to the other people sitting in the bus.
On the night of 2 April, a stranger identifying himself as Khasan's lawyer telephoned Khasan's cousin. He said Khasan was being held in preliminary detainment in Vladikavkaz, North Osetia. Relatives hired the lawyer Kh.Yandieva. On 5 April she was able to speak on the phone with investigator of the prosecutor's office Krivorotov and agree on a meeting. On 6 April Yandieva met with Krivorotov and asked to be acquainted with the record of her client's detention. Krivorotov refused to provide this record. His words were literally as follows: "I have no doubt that Egiev is a bandit."
Kh. Egiev is charged under Articles 222 (unlawful possession of firearms), 208 (participation in an unlawful armed formation), 205 (terrorism), and 278 and 30 (attempting to take power by force) of the criminal code of the RF.
On the same day, Yandieva met with Khasan Egiev. In her conversation with him she learned that during Egiev's detention a hand grenade had been planted in his pocket. Khasan was subjected to violence and torture during his interrogations (hanging upside down, beaten with bottles on the head and body, jamming needles under his fingernails. As a result, Egiev was forced to sign a confession stating that he was already in possession of the hand grenade at the time of his detention but that he had supposedly found it only a short time before. According to his lawyer's description, Egiev's physical condition was very bad: there were bruises on his face and body and he had trouble moving around as his feet had been beaten.
Egiev's lawyer addressed a complaint regarding the actions of investigative services to Deputy General Prosecutor of the RF N.I. Shepel, head of the main division of the general prosecutor's office for the North Caucasus N.Ts. Khazikov, and public prosecutor of the Republic of North Osetia-Alania A.A. Bigulov. Egiev's lawyer requested that investigator Krivorotov be taken off the case as "a party personally interested in the outcome of the case" and that an official investigation be made into the application of physical violence to Egiev. She also requested that a forensic medical examination be carried out in light of Egiev's bodily injuries.
During the preliminary investigation, Khasan Egiev was hospitalized and spent some time in the Vladikavkaz city hospital. He was then returned to preliminary detainment in Vladikavkaz. Khasan was able to contact his relatives and inform them that he was being badly beaten, and that he had not held out under the beatings and had signed everything they put in front of him.
3.7. The case of Gelani Kholukhoev
On 20 June around 15:40 in Ingushetia, Gelani Kholukhoev, born 1985; domicile address: 31 Nasyr-Kortovskaya street, Nazran) was detained by agents of the mobile division of the Russian Interior Ministry while leaving the city Karabulak.
Kholukhoev was detained while traveling in his car. According to the data of the Ingush Interior Ministry, also detained with him were Ismail Ortskhanov and Aslambek Chiliev. All the detainees were taken on the same day to the Directorate for the Fight against Organized Crime of the Ingush Interior Ministry. Relatives were not officially informed about Kholukhoev's detainment and learned his location days later from Israil Tsoroev, the lawyer appointed by the investigation.
On 22 June, Kholukhoev's brother Ilez was able to meet with Gelani for several minutes. The suspect told his brother that he had been forced under torture to sign confessions. Ilez personally noted the burn marks on Gelani's hands. Gelani's lawyer addressed a petition to the prosecutor's office of the republic in which he required that Kholukhoev's testimony be examined for signs it was forcibly obtained on the premises of the UBOP for the Ingush Interior Ministry "with the goal of obtaining ... invented confessions regarding crimes he did not commit"33 and asked for a forensic medical examination.
According to the record of the questioning of the suspect, after his detainment he was taken to the premises of the Ingush Interior Ministry and beaten. "They beat my head against the wall, they kicked my legs. All this went on for two or three hours. At first the beatings were administered by agents of Russian nationality. It's possible I could identify them. Later, a police officer with the Ingush Interior Ministry — his name was Kharon and he was a guard — put wires on my fingers and periodically turned on the electric current. They demanded I confess to participating in a terrorist act, to participating in the events of 21-22 June, 2004, during the attack on the Republic of Ingushetia."34
On 23 June Ilez Kholukhoev came to the Nazran office of the human rights organization Memorial with a written statement asserting that his brother, Gelani Kholukhoev, was innocent and that the accusations made against him were far-fetched. On 21-22 June, 2004, he was visiting relatives in the settlement Kartsa, helping them prepare for the wedding of his [female] cousin on his mother's side. This is confirmed by the witnesses Basir Kotiev, Lida Getagazova, and a neighbor, Murzabekov.
3.8. Five statements from those accused of participating in the events of 21-22 June, 2004
In the spring of 2005 the human rights organization Memorial receive statements from five defendants: Akhmed Tsuroev, Zaur Mutsolgov, Arbi Ibragimov, and Magomed-Khamid Tsechoev. These five are accused of participating in the attack on Ingushetia on 21-22 June and are being held in temporary preliminary detainment by the Ingush Interior Ministry in Nazran at the address 33 Itazova street. At the time this report is being written, their cases are being reviewed by the Supreme Court of Ingushetia.
In the declarations the circumstances of unlawful detention and torture are laid out in detail. The declaration of Tsuroev is in agreement with his wife's testimony. Similar statements by suspects and the testimony of their relatives deserve great attention. We do not assert that the suspects are not guilty of the crimes with which they are charged. Likewise we cannot assert that everything in the statements is true. It is necessary to carry out a special inquiry into the way in which the investigation was conducted with regard to these individuals. The absence of such an inquiry casts doubt upon the fairness of the judicial decision in the cases of the above-mentioned individuals in particular, and upon the judicial and law-enforcement systems of Ingushetia as a whole. Below, we introduce excerpts from their statements.
The statement of Akhmed Tsuroev, born 1979 (sent to Memorial's Nazran office from the temporary detention center of the Ingush Interior Ministry 30 May, 2005)
"... On 1 1 July, 2004, I was standing at my usual working place where I worked as a taxi driver, by the Markhaba market in Nazran. On that day my documents, like everyone else's documents, had been taken by police agents, who said that we all had to go to the police department to pick them up. I went to police department after signing a statement which said that I didn't know anything about the attack on Ingushetia on 21 June, 2004.
"The next day I was at my working place by Markhaba market and went from there in the direction of the traffic inspection point. I didn't get there, though — I stopped the car by the side of the road because I was out of gas. At that time, a truck was traveling beside my car. It went about another 20 meters, turned around, and drove up to me. Four men got out of the truck, they were officers and said I had to go to police department. I told them I'd been there yesterday, they started questioning me, they insisted that ... I go with them to police department.
"They took me to the head officer at GOVD, Zhabrail Kostoev, and he asked me to say where I was on the night of 21-22 June, 2004. I told him I was at home, that I have witnesses. Then he ordered that I be worked over, I was taken into one of the offices, they handcuffed me behind my back and put a bag over my head, then started to strangle me and give me electric shocks. Strangling, beating, and then they tied my hands and feet together behind my back and lifted me up and down, beating my head against the floor. They also beat me with their rifle butts. This went on for several hours. After that some Russian guys came in, I don't know where they were from, and in that condition they took me somewhere and threw me into some kind of basement, and at that time they took my wife and kid, and started to torture me again. That went on for about seven hours, and they tried to make me sign some kind of papers, but no matter how they tortured me I didn't sign, and then they started to take my pants off and wanted to rape me, and threatened to rape my pregnant wife. I couldn't bear any more and told them that if they let my wife and child go, I would sign.
"On the next day the whole thing was repeated. I said I wouldn't sign, they couldn't make me sign no matter how they tortured and beat my head against the concrete. Then they injected me with something, I don't know what but after the injection I was really afraid and didn't know what was happening with me. They beat me and tortured me 12 days, until they took me to the FSB in Osetia. After that they sometimes came for me and took me somewhere, I don't know where, and started again with the beatings and torture. I complained to the head of the preliminary detainment cell of the local branch of the FSB, they noted my beatings and each time promised that it wouldn't happen again, but it did happen, and kept happening almost until the court.
"Under such torture they made me sign all those papers and do everything they wanted. I signed everything without a lawyer. Later they made me sign everything with a lawyer. I told him that they were forcing me to sign. He said he couldn't do anything. You see, they tortured me and I had to sign and verbally acknowledge everything. The reason is that I couldn't hold out under such unbearable torture, they injured my heart and kidneys, the ulcers in my stomach have made me an invalid, all my innards have been damaged, I have a constant headache that makes me want to beat my head against the wall, and I'm always nauseous and vomiting, and sometimes I cough up blood."
The testimony of Tsuroev's wife, Tanzila Nalgieva (recorded by a Memorial worker from her words on 20 June, 2005)
"On 21 July, 2004, at about 9 in the evening, I was home alone with my one-year-old daughter. We were sitting in the courtyard of our house on Ozdoeva street, in the settlement Ekazhevo. Some men jumped over the fence, they were Ingush, and shouted "On the ground!" Then they opened the gate to the courtyard and armed men rushed in, some with masks and some without. They shouted "Where is he? Where's the gun?" I was very afraid. I was seven months pregnant and my legs went numb from fear, I felt like I was paralyzed, I crouched on the ground and took my daughter's hand and at first I couldn't say a word.
"Then they started to ask where he was on the 21-22 June. Somehow I answered. I informed them immediately of my condition, as I was afraid they would hit me. Several of them were very aggressive. Then they went into the house, many of them, 20 men or more. They started to search the whole house, without witnesses. They didn't show me any documents and didn't identify themselves. One was very rude to me. He said, "If it weren't for your condition, I'd show you." They dispersed throughout the house and turned the place upside down.
"But one of them was nice, an Ingush, he followed me around and said quietly, "Keep an eye on them, they could plant something on you." I said to him, "How can keep track of them all, there are so many of them!" I was mesmerized with fear.
"Among my husband's things was an old camouflage uniform, he used it as work clothes when he was fixing the car. I always kept the uniform in a bag because it was so dirty, to keep clean around the house. They found that uniform and confiscated it. He also had a linen uniform, he once worked as a guard at the market and they gave him the uniform there. This uniform was also confiscated.
"Then they called me into the corridor, until then I'd been in the far room, in our bedroom. After a while one of them called me back and said: "Look." But I couldn't see anything, the three of them were squatting in a circle, and I couldn't see what they were looking at. One of them said to me, "Look, do you see?" I looked and there was a grenade and some ammunition strewn about. I shouted: "You planted that on me! It was you!" He said to me, "What am I, a magician?" They were very clever about it, I didn't know how they did it.
"Then they said that I had to go with them to the police department of Ingushetia. I said I was pregnant and with a young daughter whom I had no place to leave, that it was already late and I couldn't go. They were doubtful. Then one of them made a phone call, it seemed he was calling his boss. After the conversation he said "No, you still have to go." And they took me to the police department.
"At the police department building, they took me up to the second floor and into an office. I had my child in my hands. Some kind of fat man interrogated me, very harsh, probably their leader. He had a television in his office, it seemed to me that on the television he watched the room where they interrogated my husband. I made out my husband's silhouette and the light roll-neck sweater he was wearing. When I entered, the man muted the television so that I couldn't hear what was being said, and I tried all the time to see if it really was my husband.
"He was rude with me. He asked why I wore a scarf. I told him that according to law it was not forbidden to wear it. He asked when my husband and I got married, asked about his family, the years of birth of all his relatives. I was in bad shape, my blood pressure rises when I'm pregnant and I had my girl in my hands, there was nowhere to lay here down, and she was making trouble. My hands and legs were trembling. After the interrogation I went into the corridor to rock my girl to sleep. I thought then that my husband was right there, on the second floor in the room on the right, two doors away from where I was, where they interrogated me. Because they all went in and out of that room, and closed the door so that I couldn't see what was in there. They wouldn't let me come near, they were afraid I'd go in. After two hours they took me home.
"For three months after that I couldn't calm down, I couldn't eat or speak, I cried all the time and didn't see anyone. I was afraid that my child would be born sick. But the boy, thank God, was born on time and healthy, but very anxious, he gives me trouble all the time.
"My husband doesn't have parents, and I didn't have any money to hire him a lawyer. I don't even know what he's actually accused of. We had a car, my husband was carrying some cash. We sold ice cream. All our money went back into the business. But they took our car on the very first day, and confiscated the money. I couldn't help him at all. And when they let me see him, he said I shouldn't spend money on a lawyer, that I should give the children what resources we had. It doesn't matter, he said, we don't have the money it would take to get me out of here anyway."
Akhmet Tsuroev was charged under Articles 105.2 (murder); 30.3 and subparagraphs "a", "f", "g", and "h"; 105.2 (attempted murder); 127.3 (unlawful imprisonment), subparagraphs "a" and "c"; 162.4 (banditism); 166.4 (illegally occupying an automobile or other form of transport without the intent to steal); 205.3 (terrorism); 208.2 (participation in an illegal armed formation); 209.2 (banditism); 222.3 (unlawful possession of a firearm); 226.4 subparagraphs "a" and "b" (theft of a firearm); and 317 (infringement on the life of a law-enforcement officer).
On August 3 2005 the Jury of the Supreme Court of Republic Ingushetia sentenced Tsuroev to 25 years in prison.
The statement of Zaur Mutsolgov (sent to Memorial's Nazran office from the temporary detention center of the Ingush Interior Ministry 10 June, 2005)
"On the morning of 6 July, 2004, around 8 o'clock, I came home from the village Barsuki, where I spent the night with relatives. After about 10 minutes armed men burst into our house. They didn't present any documents or papers. They spun me around and put a polyethylene bag over my head, and took me away in an unknown direction.
"After about 15 minutes we came to some kind of building, where they took me to the second floor to an office which had some big safes. Here they handcuffed my hands under my knees and shoved a crowbar under my armpits and strung me up like that between the safes. Then they started beating me with truncheons, torturing me with electric shocks, and strangling me, demanding that I admit to participating in the attack on the Ingush Interior Ministry on the night between 21 to 22 June, 2004. They demanded that I sign documents which they put in front of me. I couldn't hold out under the torture and humiliation, I had to sign what they gave me. Then they took me to the prosecutor's office in Vladikavkaz, where I was interrogated by investigators of the General Prosecutor for the North Caucasus Lapotnikov and Sobol, who personally directed my torture and humiliation after my every refusal.
"On 9 June, 2004, they put me into preliminary detainment in Vladikavkaz, where they photographed the results of my beatings, which can be found in the registration book of the Vladikavkaz preliminary detainment facility for 10 July, 2004.
"Several times, over three weeks in one of the offices of the Ingush Interior Ministry, I was subjected to the most refined methods of torture, with a particular cruelty. They put a polyethylene bag over my head, suffocating me and beat me with truncheons, targeting vital organs (liver, kidneys, ribs).
"From the end of July until the first of August I was transported to the Nalchik, Kabardino-Balkarian Republic, where I was taken several times to a separate cell and humiliated and beaten.
"From the beginning of August, I was taken back to solitary in Vladikavkaz, and until 20 August I was taken to the Ingush Interior Ministry nearly every day, where they tortured me by hanging me with my arms behind my back and beating me with truncheons on the legs and on vital organs, so that I would sign the papers they gave me. If I didn't, it would all go on...
"The effects of my torture remain on my body. I ask you to undertake all possible measures for the defense of my rights..."
Zaur Mutsolgov was charged under Articles 105.2 (murder) subparagraphs "a", "f", "g", and "h"; 30.3 subparagraphs "a", "f", "g", and "h"; 105.2 (attempted murder); 127.3 (unlawful imprisonment); 162.4 subparagraphs "a" and "c" (banditism); 166.4 (unlawful occupancy of an automobile or other form of transport without the intent to steal); 205.3 (terrorism); 208.2 (participation in an illegal armed formation); 209.2 (banditism); 222.3 (unlawful possession of a firearm), 226.4 subparagraphs "a" and "b" (theft of a firearm); and 317 (infringement of the life of a law-enforcement officer) of the criminal code of the Russian Federation.
On August 3 2005 the Jury of the Supreme Court of Republic Ingushetia sentenced Mutsolgov Zaur to 25 years in prison.
Above, we described how, on 6 July, 2004, Zaur Mutsolgov was detained at his home in Karabulak (Oskanova street 86) under the basest and most unlawful circumstances, and how he "disappeared" for three days after his detention. As in all the other cases, we do not assert that Mutsolgov is innocent. However, the facts documented by Memorial regarding the base violations of law by organs of the Interior Ministry and the prosecutor's office in relation to him and his family weigh heavily in favor of the veracity of at least part of the assertions made in the statements. This gives us the right to form serious doubts regarding the evidence of the suspect's guilt obtained by the investigation, and to demand an inquiry into the methods by which the investigation was undertaken.
From the statement of Magomed-Khamid Tsechoev (sent to Memorial's Nazran office from the temporary detention center of the Ingush Interior Ministry on 30 May, 2005)
"In 2004, on 2 August, a car of the make VAZ-2107 without number plates, with darkened windows, entered the courtyard of the object we were guarding. Four men got out of the car and without any explanation, in a rough physical manner handcuffed me, pulled a black mask over my head, threw me into a car, and took me away in an unknown direction... I didn't know where they had taken me and where I was. They began demanding that I tell them where I was on the night of 21-22 June...
"I explained to them that on 21 June, 2004, at 9 in the morning I began a 24-hour duty cycle and was at the object I was guarding for the construction company Monolit in Magas (an industrial base). The head guard was Issa Malsagov, he lives in Ingushetia in Altievo, at 2 Shakhmuriev street. He contacted me by radio twice that night, to make sure we were on post. I talked to him personally on the radio around 23:00 that night. Besides me, my colleague Vakha Kozdoev can confirm all of the above, as well as the guards at the neighboring object Mustafa Vachalov, Beslan Ozdoev, Akhmed Dzormov, and the cook, who also lived in the courtyard, Zulai Ilyasova and her husband Khadzhi Dzubaraev.
"They didn't pay attention to my explanation and over several hours methodically subjected me to particular brutality. In particular, they tortured me with electric shocks, put a polyethylene bag over my head to suffocate me, beat me with truncheons on vital organs (liver, kidneys, and particularly the head), demanding that I confess to supposedly participating in the attack of 21-22 June, 2004, on law-enforcement agencies of Ingushetia. When they didn't get the confession out of me, after several more hours of torture as a trick, they said they would hold me for three days to check my explanations and let me sign. After that they took me to some kind of underground premises, threw me face-first to the ground, and took off my mask. I was half-conscious from my beatings and couldn't understand where I was.
"After some time, they handcuffed me and put on the mask, and took me away in an unknown direction. Only after we arrived did they take off the mask, and then I saw that I was on the premises of the Nazran district court. In one of the offices the judge read out the testimony which I had supposedly given and asked me if I agreed with the accusation about my participation in the attack on the Ingush Interior Ministry on 21-22 June. I was shocked and said that I had not given such testimony and several times I told them I was taking Article 51 of the Constitution of the RF. Only after my lawyer, Cherbizhev, told me my life was in danger and that if I wanted to leave alive and healthy I had to give my agreement — only then did I agree.
"After that they put the mask on me and took me to the Ingush Interior Ministry. In one of the offices they presented to me the testimony which I had supposedly written, and ordered me to get acquainted with it and repeat it all to the investigator.
"After I refused again, they put the mask on me again, handcuffed me below the knees, shoved a crowbar through my armpits, and strung me up. In that position began beating me with truncheons, torturing me with electric shocks, strangling me, and hitting my kneecaps. I lost consciousness several times but they brought me back and continued with renewed vigor... I couldn't hold out. I agreed to their demands..."
Magomed-Khamid Tsechoev was charged under Articles 205.3 (terrorism), 209.2 (banditism), 222.3 (unlawful possession of a firearm), and 317 (infringement on the life of a law-enforcement officer) of the criminal code of the Russian Federation.
On August 3 2005 the Jury of the Supreme Court of Republic Ingushetia sentenced Magomed-Khamid Tsechoev to 19 years in prison.
From the statement of Arbi Ibragimov (sent to Memorial's Nazran office
from the temporary detention center of the Ingush Interior Ministry on 1 April, 2005)
"I, Arbi Shakhidovich Ibgragimov, was born 19 May, 1974, in the village Sernovodsk, in the Sunzhensk district of the then Chechen-Ingush Republic. In 2000 I married M.A. Islamova. At the present time I have three children, who are in my care.
"Until 2002 my family and I lived at our house in Sernovodsk at 30 Kutalova street. In the summer of 2002 I was detained at a checkpoint at the entrance to our village. I was held for 10 days in total. I was beaten and tortured, and they demanded that I give the whereabouts of my wife's brother, M.A. Islamov, who at that time had become a boevik, and detail the crimes in which I had participated with him.
"After they let me go, my family and I moved to the stanitsa Orzhdonikidzovskaya in Ingushetia. I lived there as a IDP in the tent city MRO until 2003. Then I rented an apartment, since I was very difficult in the tent city with my young children. Islamov would sometimes visit us, he gave me a key to the apartment which I rented at his request and told me to look after it. When Nashkho came, I was supposed to give him the things in the apartment.
"Nashkho came in March of 2004, and I went with him to the apartment I'd taken for X-M.A. Islamov at the address 28 Lugovaya street, in the stanitsa Ordzhonikidzovskaya. I gave him the things which were there. But Nashkho didn't take all the things; he left some of them. Among those things I saw a gun.
"On 9 July, 2004, I surrendered to agents of the FSB and showed them the apartment and everything in it. That was when the beating and torture started, which continue to this day.
"In particular, on that day, when I surrendered, they beat me for the first time. They beat me with rifle butts, they kicked me. They dislocated my arm, pulled out my tongue. When I lost consciousness they took me to the city Magas and threw me into the basement of the FSB building, where they poured water on me. When I came to, they strung me up in a doorway by my handcuffs and beat me with sticks. They hooked up electrical contacts to my ear and scrotum and turned on the current. They burned my chest with lighters and slashed my head.
"On the next day, they put me in a UAZ truck and drove until night. At night they brought me to some kind of dugout in the forest, apparently intended specially for torturing people. On the ceiling of the dugout were hooks and on one of these I was hung by my handcuffs, which were behind my back. Then they began beating me with a rubber tube. When I stopped feeling pain from the blows, they attached a live electrical lamp to my arms and let them hang. I received burns on my hands and a fracture in my right hand.
"The next day, I was taken to Khankala, where they threw me into some kind of trailer. There were several such trailers there and you could hear periodic moans and screams coming from them. There they continued to torture me until 28 July, 2004. During the torture they gave me some kind of injections, after which I experienced anxiety and fear and felt very unwell. They also gave me burns on the face and my left hand with a metal spoon heated on a fire. They tortured me with electric shocks.
On 29 July, 2004, they took me to the FSB in Magas and told me I had to sign some papers. Since I had no more strength to endure any beatings, I signed those papers, but I don't know their contents. Then they explained to me the things which I would have to relate at the next interrogation in the presence of a lawyer, and in court. In particular, that I had been detained on 29 July, 2004, when I came to the FSB in Magas in order to confess to participating in the attack on Ingushetia on the night of 21-22 June, 2004...
"At night they took me to the temporary detention center of the Interior Ministry of North Osetia and told me that if I didn't sign the papers in the presence of a lawyer, they would take me out and shoot me while I tried to escape. I signed the papers...
"...After court, when I was in solitary in the city Pyatigorsk, they took me to the temporary detention center in Grozny, where for 8 days I was interrogated and beaten. Then they transferred me to UBOP and the torture continued. There they made me sign a statement that I was an emir in the Achkhoj-Martanovskii district and that I had under my authority a group of 5 men. Then they took me to solitary in Pyatigorsk, where I asked several times for a forensic medical examination, with hope of documenting the beatings and mutilations I received, but the examination was not conducted."
Arbi Ibragimov was charged under Articles 166.4 (unlawful occupation of an automobile or other mode of transport without the intent to steal), 205.3 (terrorism), 208.2 (participation in an illegal armed formation), 222.3 (unlawful possession of a firearm), 209.2 (banditism), and 317 (infringement on the life of a law-enforcement officer) of the criminal code of the RF.
On August 3, 2005 the Supreme Court of the Republic of Ingushetia sentenced Ibragimov to 23 years in prison.
Ibragimov's case is not the only case when a young man informed, of his own volition, law-enforcement agencies of weapons caches, unlawful activities of boeviks, or his own refusal to participate in criminal acts. But he was subsequently tried for terrorist activity.
Musa Dzangiev (born 1972) is also included in the same group of cases based around the attack on Ingushetia on 21-22 June. Dzangiev did in fact set out with boeviks on that night at the intersection Ekazhevo-Ali-Yurt-Magas. The suspect claims that he learned the plans for the night after he had been taken to the intersection. When he had arrived at the scene and the understood the goal of the operation — an ambush and a treacherous attack on representatives of Ingush law-enforcement agencies — he left of his own volition and took with him everyone who was on post with him.
According to one witness, deputy commander of OMON Sakalov, who passed the Ekazhevo-Ali-Yurt-Magas intersection three times that night, there were no boeviks there. The data at hand indicate that no one died at that location. Dzangiev voluntarily surrendered his weapon and cooperated totally with law-enforcement agencies during the investigation. According to Russian legislation, a voluntary refusal to engage in criminal activity carries no criminal penalty. Dzangiev, however, is nevertheless charged with participating in the attack on Ingushetia on 21-22 June under Articles 209 and 205 of the criminal code of the RF. Memorial has received information that Dzangiev was cruelly tortured in the basement of the FSB building in Magas, in preliminary detainment in Vladikavkaz, and in the Ingush branch of UBOP.
On August 3, 2005 the Supreme Court of the Republic of Ingushetia sentenced Musa Dzangiev to 14 years in prison.
In the opinion of Memorial, harsh sentences of these young men will inevitably frighten off other young men from cooperating with authorities in exposing terrorist groups.
3.9. The unlawful detention and disappearance of the Kodzoev brothers
On 31 May, 2005, Memorial's Nazran office received an application from relatives of the Kodzoev brothers, who were unlawfully detained on 16 February and since that time have been missing.
According to the statement, on 16 February, 2005, around 6:30 in the morning in the village Kantyshevo in the Nazranovskii district of Ingushetia, agents of the Ingush branch of the FSB conducted a special operation, during which were detained the Kozdoev brothers: Magomed, born 1979, and Khavazh-Bagaudin, born 1984. Three armored personnel carriers, two Ural cars, Gazel and UAZ-452 minibuses, and other transport equipment were deployed in the operation. Since that time, the Kodzoev brothers have been missing.
It is known from statements made in mass media by official representatives of the Ingush branch of the FSB that on 16 February, agents of Ingush special services liquidated a representative of Shamil Basaev in the Kodzoev house in Ingushetia, the Al Qaeda emissary Abu-Dzeit, an Arab. He arrived from Kuwait and "ordered and paid for almost all the large-scale acts of terror committed recently in the region, including the seizure of hostages in Beslan" (Kommersant: 22 February, 2005).
"The operation was conducted by agents of the FSB on instructions from the General Prosecutor of Russia as part of the criminal investigation into the seizure of the school in Beslan. The terrorist was liquidated during arrest. Five machine guns, a carbine, a large quantity of explosive devices with radio detonators already prepared for use, and components for high-power mines with shaped charges were found in the house in which he was hiding" (Gazeta: 22 February, 2005).
Abu-Dzeit was found thanks to the vigilance of a local resident who, passing the house of his neighbor Musa Kodzoev, noticed the unusual construction of the building: "from the roof of the tiny shanty, which had somehow been knocked together from pieces of board, plywood, and rubberoid, two tall and big metal ventilation pipes were sticking out. The neighbor, suspecting something was wrong, told the local branch of the FSB about his observations" (Kommersant: 22 February, 2005). Agents of special services surveilled the Kodzoev house and established that there were frequent night gatherings of unknown suspicious people (Kommersant, 22 February, 2005).
According to Kommersant, in the early morning in Kantyshevo, special agents of the Ingush Interior Ministry and local branch of the FSB moved in. At that time everyone in the Kodzoev house was still asleep. The soldiers easily knocked out the windows and doors of the house and dragged out the scared-to-death owner of the home and incidentally liquidated two armed boeviks who attempted to resist. A preliminary search of the premises revealed nothing. The special agents wanted to go back, but at that time one of them for some reason kicked a nearby gas stove. The unit fell away and underneath was a hatchway. The agents descended through the hatch, turned on their flashlights and discovered the very premises for which the modern ventilation had been intended. Under Kodzoev's plywood was a rather spacious concrete bunker equipped with automatic heating systems and ventilation. The basement was lit with florescent lamps, and from the basement to the outside, to the masked agents, led lines providing the bunker with telephone and radio connections. There was also a refrigerator with a small supply of groceries, a writing table, and a bed. (Kommersant: 22 February, 2005).
Incidentally, relatives of Kodzoev deny the official version. According to the wife of Magomed Kodzoev, Zaira Kodzoeva, in the early morning armed men in masks burst into the courtyard of their home, which is situated at the intersection of Shkolnaya and Sadovaya streets. The men ran forward after the armed personnel carrier which had crashed the gates. Zaira Kodzoeva went outside to see what was happening. One of the soldiers asked her who was in the house. She answered that only her husband and two children were inside. The soldier then told the woman to call her husband outside. The husband came out and was seized.
The woman and kids were taken through the gates and put in a white Gazel minibus. Magomed Kodzoev was taken inside the house. All the "law-enforcement agents" in the house and outside spoke Russian without an accent. At 9:30 Magomed Kodzoev was taken out of the house in handcuffs and with a black bag over his head. His wife and kids sat in the Gazel until about 12:00. Then the soldier who was commanding the others allowed her to go to her relatives. All the time she was in the area of the house, she heard neither gunfire nor explosions. The district militia officer stood beyond the cordon and was not allowed into the area of the special operation.
After Zaira Kodzoeva left, her husband's brother, Khavazh-Bagaudin Kodzoev, came to the house. On the night before these events, Zaira and Magomed's son was born, and Khavazh-Bagaudin had come to congratulate the family with the birth. Instead of this, Khavazh-Bagaudin was seized and taken away in an unknown direction.
The "law-enforcement officers" were in the Kodzoev house until about 18:00. When Zaira Kodzoeva returned home, she saw that almost all the rooms had had their floors ripped up. There was no indication of explosions or gunfire in the house.
Memorial monitors visited the scene and questioned neighbors of the Kodzoevs. It turned out that they also had not heard either gunfire or explosions. Noudash Kodzoeva, who lives at 1 Sadovaya, said that between 12 and 13:00 a man in camouflage came into their house — an Ingush — and told them to stay away from the window, as there would soon be an explosion. There was, however, no explosion to follow, and after several minutes small clap was heard.
In any case, independently of the veracity of Noudash Kodzoeva's facts, one thing is beyond doubt: in the course of the special operation two men were detained who then disappeared.
The mother of the Kodzoev brothers made a written petition to the Ingush Interior Ministry and to the public prosecutor's office of the Nazran district. The Interior Ministry's answer was that "no operational-search measures were undertaken by agents of the Ingush Interior Ministry in relation to X-B.A. Kodzoev, M.A. Kodzoev, or the home belonging to them." Furthermore, "on 16 February, 2005, in an unnumbered household at the intersection of Sadovaya and Shkolnaya streets in the village Kantyshevo, Nazran district, an operation was carried out by agents of the Ingush branch of the FSB, tasked by the North Caucasus division of the General Prosecutor of the Russian Federation, to detain the Arab Abu-Dzeit, during which the latter made use of a homemade explosive device and died on the spot. Inspection of the scene was conducted by the investigative brigade of the North Caucasus division of the General Prosecutor of the Russian Federation under the leadership of inspector K.E. Krivorotov." In connection with this, relatives of the Kodzoevs were advised to turn to the North Caucasus division of the General Prosecutor of the Russian Federation, which is located in the city Yessentuki in the Stavropol region (21 Mendeleeva street). The answer from the Nazran prosecutor's office reached the Kodzoevs only after 20 May.
In the course of the four months after the disappearance of the two men, law-enforcement agencies have not opened a criminal case in the matter.
Memorial has sent petitions on this matter to the General Prosecutor.
3.10. The unlawful detention and "disappearance" of Magomed Merzhoev
On 16 May, 2005, around 6:20 in the morning, in Karabulak, Ingushetia, armed men — supposedly agents of a law-enforcement agency — abducted Magomed Merzhoev, born 1968, a resident of Ingushetia and registered at the following address: village Plievo, 12 Ordzhonikidzevskaya street, but in fact living in Karabulak on Burploschadka.
Magomed Merzhoev fought with boeviks in the first Chechen war and was wounded: he is missing his right hand. After the amnesty was declared, he returned to peaceful life. He has two children (4 years old and 1 and a half years old).
Merzhoev was abducted from the premises of a concrete factory where he worked as a guard. The only witness to this event is a guard at the neighboring enterprise, who informed Magomed's relatives that he had seen three light machines (two VAZ-2107, dark red and green, and a UAZ-469 with darkened windows) leave the area of the factory along with an armored personnel carrier.
Merzhoev's relatives sent written statements to the public prosecutor's offices of the republic and Karabulak, to the police station in Karabulak, and to the Ingush branch of the FSB. None of these agencies admitted to the complicity of their agents in Merzhoev's detention. In the Karabulak public prosecutor's office, a criminal case was opened into Merzhoev's abduction. As of 27 May Merzhoev's whereabouts are officially unknown.
However, relatives undertook independent searches and discovered that an unidentified soldier had come to the cement factory several days before Magomed's abduction. The soldier was interested in the prices of building materials. He came in a dark red automobile (a VAZ-2107; a similar vehicle was seen on the premises of the cement factory in the early morning on the day of Merzhoev's abduction). The soldier spoke Russian with a strong accent, it seems Dagestani. He was dressed in khaki camouflage. The owner of the factory, Magomed Idigov, found this man to be suspicious and observed him without notice when he left. According to Idigov, the vehicle entered the territory of the Ingush branch of OMON in Karabulak. Relatives also established through their own channels that federal and Chechen law-enforcement agents had been involved in Magomed's abduction. They learned from the same source that Magomed Merzhoev was taken to a military base in the settlement Khankala and then transferred to Vladikavkaz.