The city of Ordinary People
The city of Religion
The city of Men
The city of Oil
The city of Women
The city of Strangers
The city that Ceased to Exist
The city of War
The city of Servants

An interactive documentary by
Olga Kravets, Maria Morina and Oksana Yoshenko. 

An interactive production by
Chewbahat Storytelling Lab 

Photographs and video production
Verso Images

Picture Editor & Curator
Anna Shpakova

Powered by

Music and Sound design by
José Bautista - Kanseisound

Narrative Structure and Design
Gerald Holubowicz

English and Russian voice over
Maria Morina





About the project

Grozny, the capital of war-torn Chechnya, is a melting pot for changing Сaucasus society that is trying to overcome a post-trauma shock of two recent wars and find its own way of life in between traditional Сhechen values, Muslim traditions, and globalization, to cope with rapidly changing role of women, increasing contrast between rich and poor and political games. 

Our project Grozny: Nine Cities is inspired by a Thornton Wilder book, Theophilus North, and centers on the idea of nine cities being hidden in one, which gives us a concept to explore specific aspects of the aftermath of two Chechen wars considering them as ”cities” hidden within Grozny.


Zuleikhan Bagalova, a famous Chechen actress and philantropist     

I used to host two sisters that were detainees in Chernokozovo prison [a notorious prison that served as the main part of the filtration camp system during the second war]. When they came, my apartment was missing one wall, the sun was shining in, straight through their ginger hair. 

I decided to give each of them $100. I remember their shiny ginger hair, bright eyes and kind faces. They were raped, raped badly. The older sister was made to walk like a dog. Well, they did this to young men too, there in Chernokozovo, they would put a bag into their mouth and make them go down the stairs, barking. And they did enjoy seeing it. And they made them watch their half-dead relatives being eaten by the dogs. I told you, I wanted to help them because they were girls, even though one was married. Her husband was killed, and so was their brother. 

They were released, though, after being threatened. And then they told me about it all, and they conveyed it without any exaggeration. I remembered these kind and sunny faces. And here in the city, they would make money clearing the debris. They needed money to flee abroad, because there was no place for them among the Chechens anymore. They were raped by Russians and because Russians raped them, no Chechen would ever touch them again. And they are girls, they can't take revenge, they can’t kill. They are living abroad now. I know where. They did not tell me, but I know approximately where they are.   

The same thing happened to Elza Kungayeva, and the Chechens stopped considering her father to be Chechen because he chose the path of justice. He went to court. But as a Chechen he had to kill Russians, and leave for the mountains with a gun. Then he would be considered a man here. The Russians would kill him if they have access to him, and Chechens would do the same. 
This is his situation.   

[18-year-old Elza Kungayeva was kidnapped, tortured, raped and killed by Russian colonel Yuri Budanov in 2000. Budanov was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2003 but was released on parole in 2009 and killed soon afterwards. Elza’s family are now political refugees in Norway].
Tamara Kagirova, the founder of "Search of Missing Persons" NGO     

But we are not asking for something extraordinary, we only want to know what happened to our loved ones. What happened to them? If they are not among the living any more, then let us bury our flesh and blood. They are our flesh and blood! We are not the only ones who are crying today: Russian mothers are also searching for their beloved sons.

You know, in 2003, my son was kidnapped. He hadn’t even turned 25 back then. There was a special military operation going on in the Zavodskoy district [of Grozny]: lots of young boys were kidnapped and my son was among them.   

July 16th, 2003, half past four. Armed military men, not wearing masks, you could see their rank clearly. My daughter-in-law said they had come in to check documents. My son went to them and showed his passport. They said: “And why don’t you have the Civil Registration Office stamp? And why don’t you work?” My daughter-in-law said that their baby boy was just four month old and he was unwell, his teeth were coming through, so she asked them to please be quiet. They went to look at the baby. They asked my son to leave the room… “The boss will check your passport, and then you may come back in.” “We want to break your neighbors’ door down. They wouldn’t open up.” They told my daughter-in-law, referring to the baby: “He’ll get scared, so sit in here.” My sister-in-law was sitting there but when the shooting started – they were taking some other boys away and they jumped out of the window of another house. And he came down, my daughter-in-law says, and I was still sitting there. And when the shooting started I ran to the balcony and saw how they were putting him in the car and she screamed: “Zelimkhan!” 

And now I think that if he’d been living at my place, nothing would have happened. At that time I lived in the temporary housing facilities and every time they sent us inspectors from Khankala [the infamous Russian military base outside of Grozny]. Military cars and trucks with military people… But they’ve never taken anybody away, because we explained everything to them, so we’ve never had any complaints about them. There were so many military people coming to us before! No big deal!

We had already been looking for him, paying money, going everywhere… We learned that later they interrogated him at some central office.A woman told us that. We gave her one thousand dollars. She said: “Yes, Kagirov Zelimkhan”… Then some place else we paid money and they gave us information that Zelimkhan was in Komi [a Russian region to the west of the Ural mountains]. Then more information – that he was in Volgograd [formerly known as Stalingrad, this Southern Russian city was the location of the most recent terrorist attacks at the end of December 2013, in connection with the Olympic games]. So there was all sorts of information, but none of it was what we needed.   

I started going to all those fortune-tellers all over Russia. And every time they’d tell me: “He’s in some official place, where officials are working with him.” Well, something to that effect. The child is growing up without a father. And there are thousands of stories like this one.

I’ve even written to Moscow that I would commit self-immolation publicly, on the central squares of the Kremlin and Saint Petersburg, unless they solve the problem of bringing my son back. Also, I said I would curse the authorities of the Chechen republic and Russia. Then I received some phone calls and I went to the Federal Security Service office here in Grozny.   

I wanted to meet the boss, Rozhin, to ask him why his people are spying on me. The prosecutor told me: “Why are you writing all that?” I say: “Well, I’m going to burn myself, you see – just me and not you, so why are you worried?!”   

So many roads, so many… I’m all broken; I’ve no teeth left now.   

I don’t know why, but all this time I was sure that he was alive. I have dreams all the time. And the last dream, in Vladikavkaz [the regional capital of North Ossetia, 90 km west of Grozny]… My husband and I went to some place and there were some people dressed in civilian clothing, but armed. They told me: “Your son could have escaped, but he didn’t want to.” And I was trying to say something, but my husband said: “Don’t say a word.” And it all looked like my son had just about two more years to serve. And we wanted to take him home. And then I was in the jailhouse, with my bag, running around looking for him. I was running to some place and I saw a broken window. And I was walking and I saw Zelimkhan jump out and he had no beard and had his curly hair. And I said: “Zelim, where have you been?” I was speaking almost in a whisper so that the prosecutors wouldn’t hear. They said they would take him if he came home. And he said: “Some guy came in and said: ‘why are you keeping him here? Let him go.’ So I got released.” I said: “Where should we hide you now? In case the investigators come and ask for you and take you away again.” And at that point I woke up.   

Officially…Officially, none of those [missing persons] came back. There were cases of relatives locating them immediately and buying them buying them back [by paying off the authorities] – but these people would never talk.     
My name is Alikhan Akhmedov. I was born on November 13th, 1984. In 2002, I entered the Academy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the city of Nalchik. I graduated in 2004. Since September 2004 I’ve been working in the Zavodskoy district Crime Detection department in Grozny.

Earlier, before I became the head of the group investigating murders, I’d been investigating robberies and thefts. Then later I was transferred to the felonies and capital crimes unit. We worked together with Imran Arasmerzuyev. I know him well; he’s a good, reliable friend, he graduated from the Academy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs with distinction. So we were working together and things went well, lots of crimes cleared up, the core of the group was very good. I was in charge of investigating felonies and he was in my group. But then they didn’t let us work and put us behind bars. 

In November 2007, Ruslan Khatayev was murdered. He served in the Road Police Regiment #1of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Chechen Republic. In the course of the investigation we apprehended a suspected murderer, Sahid-Emin Mazayev, who worked for the Special Police Force. He knew the victim personally. He’d borrowed money from Ruslan Khatayev, and instead of paying the debt, Mazayev murdered Khatayev. It was something like 250,000 rubles ($7,500), if I’m not mistaken. 

We were supposed to deliver him to the Public Prosecutor Office. All the clues had been collected, and we just had to provide the investigator with two witnesses for an interrogation for transparency. The victim’s relatives were in the yard, armed. There were about twenty people ready to avenge him; such things happen. Well, everybody knew already that the guy killed that police officer. 

The next day I received a text message, sent from the Internet, saying: “Mind your own business, scumbag, if you want to save your life.” Well, I didn’t pay much attention to that. I went to work. Then I showed the message to Khasan Zhuzhayev, the head of the Crime Detection department, and he said: “Be careful, it might be linked to that murder, so stay alert.” Well, good, but I still took it easy and went about my work. 

We had to spend the night at the District Police Department, all the personnel. So we went to a coffee shop with Imran Arasmerzuyev for a cup of tea. The place was about 40 meters away from the department building. We got there and were sitting there for maybe 10 minutes. Then the Special Police Force guys charged in. We know all of them by appearance, each one of them. There were about eight or ten of them. They charged in with submachine guns and right away I recognized Beslan Saidkhasanov, the commanding officer of the Special Police Force battalion. He sat next to Imran and told us to follow them to the Special Forces base. We refused and I said that we have our own superiors and they didn’t give us any orders of that sort so we wouldn’t go anywhere. And he answered something to the effect that they would take us there, no matter what. 

There were some of our coworkers in the coffee shop so I thought it was unlikely that those people would just take us. Then, after a verbal exchange, several Special Forces guys attacked me and I had no time to reach for my gun. I heard gunfire and saw that the chair I was sitting on was riddled with bullet holes. The wall tiles were peeling off. They stuffed me into the car and put my own gun to my head. They took my phone from me and took me to Clinical Hospital #9. 

Then they dragged me out of the car and ordered me to get into the trunk. I refused. I started fighting back, but they hit me with their rifle butts and... well, it wasn’t that painful because I had that thick jacket on. Then they started beating me with the submachine gun barrels, on the legs and on the head. When I came to, I was already in the trunk. And so they were driving and I heard everything they were talking about, what they were saying to each other in the car: “How about we take them to some field, beat him up and do him in and that’s it?” -  “No, we have to take him to the minister, the Special Police Force commander Alikhan Tsakayev, designated ‘thunder’, and then we can do whatever we please.” 

They kicked me out of the car. Then I looked around and realized I was already at the Special Police Force base. Several Special Police Force guys approached me and started beating me brutally, like I was a rag or an animal, that was the kind of attitude they had. And they have somewhere there on the base, I don’t know, they may have gardens there or something. I saw a rope. They throw it over the tree and then fix your hands behind you back and hang you up there. So your legs are kind of in the air and you are hanging on the tree and… well, I think it was a standard procedure with them. There were lights, so that you couldn’t see their faces. But I saw their faces anyhow: when they’d approach me and his head blocked the lamp. So I remembered a few of them, maybe seven or eight people…or even ten. Some of them I know by first and last names, and some others I can recognize if I saw them. 

They beat me up of course; I can show you a picture. They beat me on the face and insulted me verbally and when I’d ask “Why are you doing that?” they would only say “Shut up, it’s none of your business.” My nose was broken, there were blood clots and I couldn’t breathe. They also gagged me with some duster so I was suffocating. They put a plastic bag over my head and were choking me. Then they removed the bag, thank God. I’d faint every now and then, and they’d pour iced water over me, even though it was November and the weather was cold. The few times I came to I was very cold and besides, I was tied up, feeling a hellish pain; I couldn’t feel my hands at all. 

Then after a while they brought Imran Arasmerzuyev. They threw him out of the car as well. So he was there on the ground about five-seven meters away from me, and then the Special Police Force guys approached him… Beslan Saidkhasanov came, he stepped on his neck, said, “You were fighting back there in the coffee shop,” and after these few words five or six Special Police Force guys started beating him up, right there on the ground. He was bent double and was trying to evade the blows, but it was to no avail. They had submachine guns and were hitting him with the barrels on different parts of his body. They kept beating him for maybe an hour and a half or two hours. 

Then they took me to some sort of basement premises. 

The place was very dirty. After a while they led us out of the basement. I realized it was a parade ground where the formations take place, and there was their commander, Alikhan Tsakayev. When everybody was there he made us stand on our knees in the center of the ground, with our heads down, and delivered a speech in Chechen: “Here are those criminal investigation guys, those roosters and hens. Nobody has the right to detain Special Police Forces people, and whoever does so will suffer the same fate.” 

And even when I was hanging up there on that tree and they were beating me up, about 30 or 40 meters away I saw Sharpuddi Lorsanov, the Minister of Internal Affairs and the chief of the Security Service… When they were beating us, a representative of the Security Service approached us. It was lieutenant colonel Akhyad Bisultanov, who was working on our case, on the prosecution. He hit me on the head with the bucket that they used to pour iced water over me. Then he gave me a look and went away. 

After that they brought us to the Special Police Force administration building and I saw them taking Imran up to the second floor, to the Special Police Force commander’s office where he - as I learned later - had a talk with the Minister, the vice-ministers and the Chief of the Security Service. 

Then they drove us away in the car that belonged to the head of our security at the District Department of Internal Affairs, Aslambek Sakazov. They took us to the Security Service headquarters and interrogated us there. Not about the beatings, but about the fact that we’d delivered Mazayev. There was nothing said about the beatings. They didn’t ask us anything, as if it were all as it should have been. So we gave them detailed explanations, how we delivered him and why and then Sakazov and his security guys took us to the Department of Internal Affairs of the Zavodskoy District and placed us in the temporary holding facility. 

They put Imran and me in different cells. We had both been beaten up severely; I was shaking all over so they even had to call the ambulance that night. They just gave me two tablets, and that’s all. And they kept us there for two days. On the second day my mother came along with a lawyer and saw that I’d been beaten. My mother said: “Why are you keeping these kids here?! Let us take them home.” “No, they are being kept here for their own safety.” I don’t know what kind of safety they were talking about: we’d already been beaten up – it’s just impossible to fathom, hard to believe. 

Well, later I realized that they’d beaten us to hush the whole thing up, as it were, because they fabricated criminal charges against us. And the reason was Mazaev, you understand? He was some sort of a relation of the Special Police Force commander. Then there was that funny trial and after some time, more than a year – a year and eight days – they released us, with three years probation. And the stamp said that we had no right to hold a job…

We’ve been filing complaints everywhere… but all our complaints wind up in the Special Police Force commander’s office. We write a complaint to the court… we wrote one in the temporary holding facility… it all goes to the Special Police Force commander, Alikhan Tsakayev. How can I explain it to you? It doesn’t make sense any more to write and complain – to the Public Prosecutor, to the Investigating Committee or to the Supreme Court – wherever we wrote about the unlawful procedures we’d been subjected to – all our complaints would wind up on Tsakayev’s desk. Then he summoned our relatives several times… he talked to them… to my mother and Imran’s mother and my boss’s wife. He said that despite the complaints, the guys will be sentenced to jail. They will never get out of here nice and clean, that’s what he’d say, in just those words… So it was as he said – right from the start and until the verdict. 

Later our relatives wrote to Moscow… And thank Allah, thank the Almighty, they brought a prosecution against the Special Police Force, charged with article 286 part 3 of the Criminal Code. 

The prosecution was later stopped on the grounds that the persons to be prosecuted had not been identified.    
Aima Makayeva, the mother of Apti Zeynalov, who has been missing since 2009
Even though Chechnya is officially part of Russia and so prohibition can carry no legal weight, prohibition has nevertheless been imposed by Ramzan Kadyrov as part of his 'Islamization' policy. Shops are only allowed to sell alcohol between 8 am and 10 am.   Omar Baytulayev never made a secret of the fact that he disagreed with the 'dry law', and so the local authorities decided to get rid of him.

TO: the Head of the Investigatory Administration of the Investigatory Committee of the Russian Federation in the Chechen Republic, Ledenyov V.A.   

FROM: Baytulayev, Omar Akhmatovich (born 20.09.1961), Permanent address: Chechnya, Achkhoy-Martan region, Zakan-Yurt settlement, Mekhanizatorov Str., 19. (Phone number) 

My residential address is Chechnya, Achkhoy-Martan region, Zakan-Yurt settlement, Mekhanizatorov Str., 19. I’ve been residing there since 2004 with my wife, Baytulayeva Taitah Magovedovna, born in 1963, and my three daughters – Baytulayeva Bella Omarovna, born in 1986, Baytulayeva Zaremah Omarovna, born in 1987 and Baytulayeva Mariam Omarovna, born in 1999.   

On 04.01.2011 I was at home, watching TV until late, and I went to bed at about 00.30. Before going to bed I locked the gates and the front door. At approximately 00.45 I woke up because I heard somebody knocking on the gate very loudly. I looked out of the window and saw strange men in the yard; there were ten of them. Since the gate had been locked, I realized that one of them had climbed over the yard fence and let the rest into the yard. All the people who broke into the yard of my household had firearms – submachine guns and pistols. They were dressed in camouflage uniforms. I didn’t see any masks over their faces. These people, with the help ­­of their submachine guns, broke the electric lamp that was on in the yard, and it became dark.   

I got dressed, opened the door and went out into the yard. At that point five or six people entered my house. One of them told me: “Didn’t we warn you that you should leave the settlement?” I told them not to enter the house and to let my wife and daughters get dressed. My request was ignored. I began to explain that I’d talked to the head of the administration and he had demanded that I leave the settlement and that I was about to sell my house as soon as the buyer obtained the resident certificate. The Prefect asked me if I could do it in one month and I told him that once the matter of the certificate was settled I’d be gone. But then they said: “So you are talking back?” After that, two of the visitors grabbed my hands and the third one hit me on the head with a plastic stool several times. I managed to break free and ran into the yard, but they caught up with me, knocked me down to the ground and started kicking me on different parts of my body, dealing blows till I fainted. When I came to, I saw that my wife and daughters had run out of the house and were imploring the men to stop beating me. Through the open gate I saw two Lada Priora cars next to my house. Meanwhile, I was lying on the concrete floor under the awning of my house. My wife and daughters asked me to keep still lest the uniformed men resume the beatings, which they might have done if they noticed that I’d regained consciousness. I saw that they’d turned away from me, so I sneaked unnoticed into the neighboring yard and ran into my neighbors’ place barefoot. I asked my neighbor to go and check if the persons who had beaten me had left my house. After a while my neighbor returned and told me that I could go back home. Having gone back, I discovered that there was a crowd of neighbors around my house; the house was on fire and the fire brigade was trying to extinguish it. At that point nobody was close to the house. From my wife and daughters I learned that they’d seen the aforementioned persons in the camouflage uniforms set our house on fire. As a result of the fire we lost all our furniture, 160 thousand rubles, the groceries, my documents and all of our clothes – mine, my wife’s and my daughters’. The total damage caused can be estimated at one million rubles. After some time I found out that among the persons who’d beaten me up and burned down my house were Tatsagov Valid Salambekovich and Khusayinov Akhmed Umarovich (formerly known as Umayev Ulbi Danilbekovich, but in 2003 he changed his name for reasons unknown), both of whom work at the Department of Internal Affairs of the Achkhoi-Martan region.   

Based on these facts, the Investigatory Department of the Department of Internal Affairs of the Achkhoi-Martan region filed a case #56523 according to Article 167 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. In the course of investigation, after certain procedures myself and my family were declared victims.  

At the inquest, I was shown photographs of the suspected criminals. I identified Tatsagov Valid and Khusayinov Akhmed, both employees of the Department of Internal Affairs of the Achkhoi-Martan region. Interviews with both of them were conducted. After that, in accordance with the requirements of Article 151 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, the criminal case was referred for further investigation to the Achkhoi-Martan Inter-Regional Investigatory Department of the Investigatory Committee of the Russian Federation in the Chechen Republic. I hoped that the investigation was at its final stage and the criminals would be arrested and tried in court, and that my rights would be restored.   

However, I was profoundly mistaken and now I’m convinced that the laws of the Russian Federation don’t apply in Chechnya, where only force, money and power are treated with respect.   

The head of the Investigatory Department of the Achkhoi-Martan region – a highly respected and professional officer and the most reputable person in the Chechen republic – has been fired for starting the action against people close to the Prefect of the Achkhoi-Martan region.   

Trying to avoid the same fate, on 04.06.2011 the investigator of the Achkhoi-Martan region issued a resolution halting the prosecution of Tatsagov and Khusayinov according to article 167 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, based on lack of evidence. The case was sent back to the Investigatory Department.   

Following my complaint to the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Chechen republic, this resolution was cancelled, but the case was left with the Department of Internal Affairs for some reason, allegedly in order to check the criminals’ accounts and alibis.   

I believe that during the preliminary investigation of criminal case #56523 the norms of material, objective and international law have been grossly violated.   

According to article 151 part 1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, a preliminary investigation of criminal deeds committed by employees of the Internal Affairs Ministry of the Russian Federation is to be conducted by investigators from the Investigatory Committee of the Russian Federation. 

On 05.02.2007, the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation issued the resolution #2-P that stated that according to article 15 part 4 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, “generally accepted principles and norms of international law” and international treaties of the Russian Federation constitute a part of its legal system. If an international treaty of the Russian Federation contains rules other than the ones contained in domestic law, then the rules of the international treaty are to be followed. 

By ratifying the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the Russian Federation recognizes the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights as supreme on matters of interpretation and implementation of the Convention and all accompanying protocols in cases of suspected violations of those treaties by the Russian Federation (Federal law #54-FZ, issued on 30.03.1998). 

Thus, just as does the Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the resolutions of the European Court of Human Rights – particularly the parts in which they give an interpretation of the content of the rights and freedoms defined in the Convention, based on the generally accepted principles and norms of international law, including the right to access to courts and fair justice – constitute a part of the Russian legal system, and therefore federal lawmakers must follow them while regulating public relations and the organs of law enforcement must follow them while enforcing the corresponding legal norms.

According to the precedent law of the European Court (see the resolution of the European Court of Human Rights, issued on 26.01.2006 on the case “Mikheev v. Russia”, paragraph 108), an investigation of complaints of brutal treatment must be thorough. That means that the state organs must not rely on hurried or unsubstantiated conclusions in stopping investigations or in making any other decisions. They must take all available and appropriate steps to collect all proof and evidence pertaining to the case, including testimonies of the witnesses, medical examinations etc. Any gap in the investigation which undermines the possibility of determining the cause of traumas or the personalities of the perpetrators can lead to violations of the above standards.   

In the resolution of the case “Aksoy v. Turkey” (paragraph 2, issued on 18.12.1996), the European Court of Human Rights determined that an effective investigation must be urgent and unbiased.   

Besides that, according to the precedent law of the European Court (see paragraph 110 of the resolution of the European Court of Human Rights on the case “Mikheev v. Russia”, issued on 26.01.2006), in order for the investigation of complaints of brutal treatment by representatives of the state to be effective, the investigation must be independent.   

An investigation loses its independence when conducted by employees of the same division or institution to which the suspects of brutal treatment belong (see paragraphs 80-82 of the resolution of the European Court of Human Rights from 27.07.1998 on the case “Gyulech v. Turkey”). Independence of the investigation implies not only the absence of hierarchical connections, but also practical independence (see paragraphs 83-84 of the resolution of the European Court of Human Rights from 28.07.1998 on the case “Ergee v. Turkey”). I suspect that employees of the Department of Internal Affairs of the Achkhoi-Martan region and the Achkhoi-Martan Investigatory Administration of the Investigatory Committee of the Russian Federation in the Chechen republic are not independent from the Prefect of the Achkhoi-Martan region of the Chechen republic, because not long before the arson the Prefect paid me a visit accompanied by police officers whom he ordered to conduct an unlawful search, even though there was no court sanction.   

Furthermore, the policemen followed this unlawful order obediently. Considering the situation of the dismissed chief of the Investigatory Division of the Department of Internal Affairs in the Achkhoi-Martan region, none of the people in question dares conduct a thorough investigation regarding the circumstances of the Prefect personally, since that would mean risking being fired and leaving their families with no support at such a hard time. 

Thus it is my belief that the investigation of the beatings the policemen subjected me to and of the arson of my home, conducted by the investigator of the Achkhoi-Martan Investigatory Administration of the Investigatory Committee of the Russian Federation in the Chechen republic, does not meet the requirements of effective investigation as formulated by the European Court of Human Rights. Therefore in this case there is a violation of Article 13 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, 1950. This, in turn, leads to the conclusion that the employees of the Achkhoi-Martan inter-region investigatory committee of the Investigatory Committee of the Russian Federation in the Chechen republic either don’t want to or aren’t allowed to investigate criminal cases involving employees of the Police in the Achkhoi-Martan region.   

I am prepared to write a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights and, as you understand, the Court will gladly process it, which will cause harm to the international image of Russia.   However, as a patriot and a man who loves my Fatherland, I’m trying to find justice at a domestic level and I regard an appeal to the European Court as a last resort for restoring my abused rights.   

Based on the above and in correspondence with Article 39 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation,   

1.  A withdrawal of the criminal case #56523 for examination of the violations of Russian law and abuses of my rights as a party involved, in order to conduct a preliminary investigation of said criminal case.   

2.  A referral of the criminal case #56523 to the Department of High-Priority Investigations of the Investigatory Administration of the Investigatory Committee of the Russian Federation in the Chechen republic for a further unbiased investigation.   


Baytulayev O.A.   30.09.2011
The testimony of Dagman, the resident of Samashki village. The most notorious civilian massacre of the first war took place here on April 7-8, 1995. ICRC estimated that about 250 residents were killed by Russian forces after they could not provide 264 machine guns as demanded by the generals.   WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
We met M. and her mother not far from Grozny, in a house where they were doing repairs. That is what they do for livingIt was in October 2009. M’s brother had been detained and accused of engaging in terrorist activities in Grozny. Five days later he was released and his family informed that he’d been detained by mistake. On the way home M’s car was stopped by masked, armed and camouflaged men. They dragged M’s brother out of the car and drove him away.

When did you last hear from or about your brother? 

It will be three months tomorrow.

No news, nothing at all?
That’s right.

When these men were taking your brother away, were they speaking Russian or Chechen?
They didn’t say a single word. You mean they might have kidnapped the wrong person by accident? No. They kidnapped the one they wanted. They threw the ignition key into the grass so that we wouldn’t follow them. How would you describe that? What would you think if one of yours got kidnapped? See, my brother is innocent. He’s a good boy. If he is innocent, at least one Chechen must be saved! He has shed no blood. All our neighbors can testify what kind of a guy he is. He’s only 20 years old. 

So young? 
Yes, he’s young and handsome. He keeps his word. That’s why they needed to remove him. He was granted amnesty in 2008; he was a mere boy then. When he was 19, he went to the woods ['in the woods' equals 'with the resistance']

Did he tell you why he decided to do that? 
After he came back, he asked us not to ask him this question. He doesn’t like to answer such questions. Let bygones be bygones. And we have to live this life. 

You mean he went there and came back of his own volition? 
Yes. They led him astray, so he went away. 

Have you tried to find him? 
In the woods? No, we haven’t. 

But did you know where he was? 
The officials told us that he was there. 

What would be worse for you and your family- if he were in the woods now or if he were being kept by the so-called officials? 
To be honest, we know that if he’s in the woods, then he’s in the woods. The only thing that could happen is he might run into a bear… But when people are among people and disappear, that’s really hard. When you trust people then you have at least one chance, but when people deceive you, it’s very hard to bear. 

How long has he been in the woods? 
A year and two months. 

Did he start working with you and your mother when he came back?
He’d been working beforehand too, since he was a little boy. He would always help any neighbor of ours. Out of ten boys he would be the first one to help people, he would never say ‘no’. He had a saying that nobody can die from doing one good thing.

When the officials came and told you that you brother had gone into the woods, were they threatening you or your family? They sometimes burn peoplehouses down 
No. They only said: “Go to the woods and bring him here.” And we told them: “If you love him more than we do, go yourself and bring him here! We are not the ones who sent him there. And we aren’t happy that he went into the woods.” 

What do you think is going on now in the republic of Chechnya?
We came over, we see that everything is so beautiful and yet there are explosions and people disappear…
I know one thing for sure: the suits don’t suffer. Nobody’s going to complain to the human rights minister. Because whoever’s got weapon is right and whoever’s got money is right. Me personally – I’d rather be working at a construction site with a shovel in my hands and die there, but earn my slice of bread honestly. 

And when do you expect to hear some news? 
We all hope that my brother will come back, and we pray to Allah for him. But if you mean the exact day and hour – no, we have no expectations. We just have hope, in general. But if our President learned about it, he could do a lot even today. He could find my brother and bring him back to us.

In autumn 2010, M’s family received the body of M’s brother. They were informed that he’d been liquidated as a gunman in the woods not far from the settlement of Avtury, 30 km south-east of Grozny.   
Adlan and Anu Idrisovs, whom we met in March 2012 at their house in the village of Avtury, 30 km south-east of Grozny, are the parents of Zubayr Idrisov. In June 2010 he was sentenced to 10 years in a penal colony. He was found guilty of banditry, the attempted assassination on a law enforcement agent, damage to and destruction of others' property and the illegal possession of arms. Zubayr is serving his term in the Siberian city of Tomsk, approximately 3,000 km east of Moscow. Lawyers have been fighting against his conviction but with no success to date.    

Anu: On August 3, 2009, a car was blown up, there on the bridge. The car belonged to the chief of the local police. He is known by the nickname ‘Lord’, but his real name is Daudov Magomed. So at 3 am, armed military people wearing masks charged into our house. They took our son away. So… 

Adlan: Tell them more please… the details. Anu: When they were taking him… They accused him of something but didn’t tell us anything, they just put a mask over his head… and just took him away, and we didn’t know where. 

Tell us everything in chronological order. Who was there when they took him away? 

Anu: I was there, of course… I was asleep in the middle room, and he was asleep in the far room. We heard some noise and I peeped though the keyhole and saw people there. I approached my son and woke him up: “Look, there are people there…” He didn’t even show any reaction. He told me: “Mom, we haven’t done anything to anybody, so go to bed and sleep peacefully.” So he turned away and went back to sleep. So the people came in and as if they were living with us, they went straight to him and woke him up. “Zubayr! Zubayr! Get up! Let’s go!” They took his hand and Zubayr just went with them calmly. I took one of them by the hand and he said: “Leave me alone!” Well, I asked: “Where are you going? Who are you? Why don’t you tell me your name or something?” They didn’t tell me anything, just closed the door and took him away. And we went to Shali [the closest town to Avtury where the Idrisovs live, 25 km south-east of Grozny] right away, to the District Department of Internal Affairs and told them what had happened.   So they were saying, let’s wait, we’ll see, we’ll search… wait till the morning, so they… I screamed like a lunatic: “Wait till the morning?! I don’t know where my child is!” He was still under age at that time: he had turned 17 but wasn’t 18. While we were waiting, a woman called us on the phone. 

Adlan: It was already dawn. 

Anu: And this woman says, there are boys here… there was another one with him, his classmate and a neighbor of ours. They were of the same age… And she says she was scared too, of course: “Those guys came in the middle of the night…” She worked at a gas station… Then my son picked up the phone: “Mom, come over at once! We are here by the gas station. There… are woods here.” 

Adlan: They left them there in the field, by the pole. They’d beaten them up till they were half-dead and just left them there. 

Anu: They’d beaten both of them severely. We waited till the morning, and then took them to the hospital and they registered the beatings. And… those people came over: “It was a mistake.” Just apologized and that’s all, the usual story. We’d no strength to file a counter-claim or do anything else… We know that it was an injustice, but we left it at that anyway… The only thing I had was photographs. Unfortunately, they later removed all of them. 

You mean they deleted all this from the records? 

 Yes, deleted it from the hospital records. But I had some photographs left. It was like they’d lost the registration journal. Allegedly there was… something like a construction site. And then some time passed and after a month – there was another case. It was the month of the Uraza, a holy month.   We got together and had our dinner. There is a mosque across the street and the men went there for evening prayer, as usual. And then we heard shooting. I jumped outside and there were people on the road, a lot of people. Everybody was screaming… It was obvious that something bad had happened. Then the people said: “They took the boys away.” There were armed people in masks. There was shooting. They led two boys away even before the prayer was over. And we still could not find our son. So I’m asking what happened, explain it to me! They wouldn’t let anybody in: they were standing there with submachine guns. It all was very scary, I can’t even tell you how scary. I will never forget it, for sure. This image is constantly in my mind; after all I’m a mother. And then we still could not find Zubayr. Later we learned that they hadn’t managed to catch him: he’d run away because he got scared when they detained him there for the first time, when they kidnapped him and beat him up – so he was afraid because of all that, of course. They came to get him. They surrounded the place. There was the South Battalion [Ramzan Kadyrov’s private militia], the Federal Security Service, the local Department of Internal Affairs: there were all kinds of forces there. Our yard was full of them. To cut a long story short, they stayed at our place overnight. Some slept, others didn’t. 

Adlan: There were probably over three hundred armed people here. 

Anu: And they were threatening us. They would order us to bring our son to them. It turns out that he was staying with my sister in Kurchaloy. I had a phone call and I was told that, so I knew. But I hadn’t told anybody, not even him (i.e. Adlan - A Chechen woman must not call her husband by name), lest he agreed to hand him over… And at night I didn’t feel like… And during daytime I had no way to hide him, of course. I was not going to hide him. At night that Daudov guy called us, too. He wanted us to… How much time did he give us? Eight hours? 

Adlan: Till the morning. 

Anu: We were supposed to bring the son over to the local Department of Internal Affairs by 8 am so we were supposed to find him… 

Adlan: I gave them my word as a man that we would. 

Anu: Well, he gave his word over the phone, but later I met him in person, I went to see him in his office. We had a talk and he said: “I know who tried to kill me, I know the guy. Well, I actually have no proof; I just want to ask him some questions. I give you my word” – he says – “that you can have him back afterwards, in the evening.” I say: “What if I fail… I’m not going to hide him, he’s done nothing, and he’s merely a kid, just graduated from high school.” So we brought him over there. 

Anu: I thought that they would let him go. I was sure: after all, it was a man’s word. I thought that… me for example, I keep my word. So we went there, brought him there, handed him over. But they didn’t let him go after all. So they were saying something like they caught him in the woods and he put up a fight and he was armed. So they hit him with those charges, too. 

Anu: In the beginning they wouldn’t even allow us to hire a lawyer, there was certain pressure… They kept him for 48 days, even though it was against the law and everybody knows that. They beat him up – I have a photograph as proof. They took him to hospital for an examination. They gave him some morphine shots and took photographs and did X-rays. He had an intracranial brain damage, and he had his jaw broken and he had a hematoma. What didn’t he have! They beat the kid up severely. 

Adlan: When he signed the documents, it was actually my signature that had to be there. I didn’t sign because I understood what it was about. They were beating the boy and forcing him to sign. They were telling him that I had already signed. I don’t know how it is possible at all… but… well there are movies now about Nazis. But what is going on in Chechnya is more horrible than that. I don’t just mean my son. It can be anybody. Any street, stop by any house – that one was killed, this one is missing, killed, missing… Were all of them commandos or what? On our street there was only one such guy in that house over there and nobody else! The rest were ordinary boys. 

Anu: Well, before one could at least have said that we had no law, no order, but now they say “we have civilization; we have law and United Russia [Vladimir Putin’s party]...”   

Adlan: Yes, because of my son I am considered a public enemy now. I can’t get a job anywhere. I’m a public enemy! The only kind of job I could possibly get pays about 6,000 to 10,000 rubles [$180 to $300]. Ten thousand is the maximum, and even that I can get only if I have connections. And how can I support my family on 10,000? It doesn’t make any sense. - And what was he sentenced to? 

Anu: Nine years. He now has six and a half left. 

Adlan: Out of the boys who are doing time, about 60 percent are innocent, it all is just for the sake of results… If a Chechen person is mixed up in something he’s got to be a bandit. And when you start thinking the whole thing over - only then you realize that the guy is not guilty: he’s just being framed.  
We met this mother of a missing man in March 2012. The story she told us took place in 2011. She wanted to remain anonymous because she does not believe that going public will help her find her son and she hopes for some kind of shadowy deal, most likely involving a ransom, that would let her get him back.   

Kadyrov wants to see results! So they can take anybody and do anything to them just to get all those medals. They see that I am weak. “Well, she doesn’t have a husband any longer… she’s just got some kids with her, and some others have left, so we can easily take him with no fuss.” So they took him, because they found me in a weak state. If I had a machine gun or if I had some connections in certain organizations, they would have never dared to do that, you understand? 

But that’s how it is. It may seem even strange that I at least… that I still can walk. On the 3rd of August they just came over and knocked on the door, that’s why I’m saying it’s very dangerous. I had just came home from work, really. And my son must have gotten home maybe some… ten minutes before me. He works at the market; I mean he used to sell things there. So he had got home and was sitting in the living room watching TV. I got dressed, that is I changed; I mean I went to my bedroom to change. I was preparing to pray, it was the hour of the evening prayer. 

Then I stopped by the kitchen, I thought I would put the kettle on and then go and pray. And I hadn’t even talked to him, because I saw he was absorbed in watching TV, well, I thought, I’m not going to disturb him. Then all of a sudden there’s a knock on the door. First I thought I might have imagined it, you see I’m a little hard of hearing in my left… I mean in my right ear. So I thought it was nothing and kept listening. Meanwhile, my son got up and opened the door. I was just looking at him and they said something to him, I didn’t hear the words. Then they took his hand and led him outside. They asked him something, but I couldn’t hear the words. Then they say: “Give us your passport and your cellphone.” But he had no phone at that time, because he’d sold his phone with a view to buying himself a new one. And we were in a real crisis in those days: my husband had died, we had to arrange the funeral…

So we were pretty short of money, and in order to keep trading at the market he sold his phone. So I say “Well, you need the passport - I’ll bring you the passport. And I’ll go with you.” And they answer “Ok, go if you want to go.” And they looked so calm standing there, just two of them in civilian clothing. Then it turned out – I hadn’t noticed, hadn’t looked outside – that they had two cars out there waiting… It turned out that these military people outside, they were from that Special Purpose Mobile Unit (OMON). But at that moment I didn’t know that the two were with the OMON people. Then I say, ok. 

So I went to change back again. I thought I would get dressed and go. And while I was changing I saw one of the men walking along the hallway, towards my bedroom. Walking so calmly… And I’m undressed, standing there in my bedroom. And I say: “Hey, where are you going? Can’t you see that I’m changing in here?” He says nothing, just keeps looking into every room, and I went after him and said: “What right do you have to walk around here in my room? Show me your papers.” And again he said nothing. So he looked into every room. And he already got back to the hallway – and my hallway is rather long and the rooms are over here, and on the left side I have a kitchen, right next to the entrance door. And when he got to the kitchen he just bent over and sneaked out. And then I didn’t know what to do. So I went out, but I didn’t see anyone…So I went out to the road and went to the local Department of Internal Affairs, then to the investigators – I’ve been everywhere, filed all the papers, complaints and application forms. 

No results whatsoever. About two months later – and I was still going to all those investigating departments, internal departments, militias… After two months we had the celebration for the end of Ramadan [the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and a time when Muslims across the world will fast during the hours of daylight]. And on that day… on the second day they just attacked my apartment, there were maybe twenty of them. That time around I already knew that they were from the Special Purpose Mobile Unit, because they all had badges, so I noticed. It was a rainy day, and their boots were muddy, walking all over my carpets, just the way they were… 

They went into every room, kicking things around, then they took three photo albums and left. I said: “What are you looking for? You’ve already taken a son of mine. What else do you want?” And they said: “Don’t pretend that you don’t know what we want! Where are you hiding him?” I say, “Who?” And they go,” Where are you hiding your son?” And I say, “Ah, so that’s the matter! So you’ve kept him up till now! I’ve been looking for him for two months!” And they, you see, said nothing, just got out and drove away. And till this very day… then at some point it turned out that my son was staying here with some friends, but they didn’t inform me, just said nothing. Then they told my brother-in-law, but it was already after he went to Astrakhan [one of the major cities of southern Russia, 400 km north-east of Grozny]. 

Only when he was there did he contact my brother-in-law, I mean his uncle, and told him that he was there at that time, that he had managed to escape from them. And meanwhile… he got himself a temporary registration there, rented an apartment. He wanted to get a passport and go abroad. But for that he needed papers from the… what do you call it… from the military enlistment office. Then he called me and said… No, actually he didn’t call, my sister lives over there so she called me and said: “He needs papers from the army place. Otherwise they wouldn’t issue him a passport.” Well it’s ok. So I went there, and I saw all these people, they are like… they all are really scared. 

Maybe they meant to warn me, I don’t know. So there they didn’t issue me the passport, they were afraid, they said that they’d been warned, that “if you issue a passport with that name, we will take you…” that is, you’ll be all listed as missing persons. So they didn’t give me the passport. And then I gave them several thousand rubles, so that they would give me reference papers quickly. So I got them… Then it turned out that the papers they gave me were valid just for two weeks. It was the beginning of December, and the papers were due to expire in one week. So they wouldn’t accept them, they said we needed to get others that would be valid for six months. Then I went there again and said: “You’ve given me the wrong papers. How is that possible, that I gave you 5,000 [$150] and you gave me something that expires after two weeks?” So they go: “Ok then, give us 4,000 [$120], and we’ll give you six-month papers.” Oh well. So I gave them the four thousand, and got the papers. I have just sent them out, because on the next day he was supposed to file the passport application and on December 25th they took him from there and brought him over here. 

On January 5th they took him to the Leninsky District investigation office, the government investigation department. So they brought him there and forced him to write down something like, “nobody kidnapped me, nobody took me anywhere, I just had a quarrel with my mother because she wouldn’t let me get married, so I left and went to Astrakhan.” They got him a ticket to Rostov for January 7th – this I’ve found out by myself, I was investigating. 

Because nobody, neither investigators nor anybody else… Nobody works at all. So I just walked around by myself investigating, I went to the railway station too. So they bought the ticket for the 7th of January, in some sort of commercial ticket place. But there’s no data in the archive on that date and that railcar number, I mean the railway station archive. So where have they taken him, and what have they done to him? I don’t know. Well, I’ve written to Moscow, but they refer me back to the local authorities, saying, let them investigate and figure the whole thing out. But the local ones… well, they are just sitting around, doing nothing, they are all scared, too. The investigator even told me in so many words: “I have to survive, and I am afraid.” That’s the story. I think they had him… I have this feeling that they’ve killed him. Why – I don’t know. Because otherwise – where could they have taken him?
We met torture survivor Khusen Vangashev in March 2012. Khusen is bedridden and it is difficult for him to talk, so we are using his story as told to the Joint Mobile Group lawyer Anton Ryzhov, as published in his blog and with his generous permission.     

On September 30 2011, Khusen, 23, got back home after a day at work that he spent building a house. Having talked to his mother about an upcoming wedding, he went to bed. He woke up after receiving a strong blow. Several men bore heavily down on him, put handcuffs on him and put a jacket over his head (so that he would not see the faces of the attackers). Vangashev heard his mother crying and screaming. His neighbours also had trouble: a young man with the surname of Patarkhanov was kidnapped. 

Khusen was driven to some building, where he was thrown onto the floor and beaten. They demanded that he plead guilty of supplying rebels with food. Khusen suddenly felt wires attached to his toes. Then the young man felt an electric shock. Three people sat on his back, one held his legs, and another one supplied the voltage. At the same time they poured water over Vangashev. 

Unable to stand the torture, Khusen agreed to sign whatever they wanted. He was handed handwritten papers. As Vangashev doesn’t really understand Russian, he was not able to read what was written there, but he did sign. 

Then he was driven to a country road, taken out of the car, taken to a bush and told at gunpoint to point his finger at this bush. Khusen was scared for his life and he did what they demanded. 

A few days later both Khusen and Patarkhanov were taken again to the outskirts of the village of Katar-Yurt [30 km south-west of Grozny]. There, scared of the armed men again, Khusen pointed at this bush once more, where he allegedly stored food for rebels even though the lawyer assigned to him told him not to point at anything. 

The next day, Khusen was brought to a district court where he was given a form of detention. Khusen told the judge that he did not commit the crime, but bore false witness against himself under torture. He was kept under arrest nevertheless. His claims elicited no reaction. After the court hearing, two policemen came to the detention center, took him into an interrogation room and beat him. 

In October, Vangashev’s mother visited her son several times in detention. He had been severely beaten. He complained about the pain in the back and he said his legs were growing numb. He also said that he had breathing difficulties. In November, she got a call from policemen who told her that Khusen’s legs had grown numb and his bladder had stopped functioning and that he was being taken to a Grozny hospital. On December 1, Khusen had an operation on his bladder. 

In December 2011, after a medical examination, the doctors diagnosed him with a disease that meant he could no longer be kept in detention. Khusen’s legs do not function properly now. He has been prescribed a course of treatment. 

The mother of the torture victim complained to the Investigative Committee and the Ministry of the Interior of Chechnya, but there was no reaction from them. 

In the meantime, Khusen Vangashev was successfully convicted of aiding an illegal armed group. He followed the advice of his lawyer and agreed to sign a “pre-trial agreement on cooperation”. The trial took place right in the emergency care unit of the city hospital, attended by the judge and the prosecutor. Vangashev himself did not understand anything that was happening and did not take part in the hearing. The lawyer spoke on his behalf. 

Vangashev’s lawyer explained to us that it was he who suggested Vangashev opt for this kind of procedure, so that the young man would only be given a suspended sentence. Bear in mind that this lawyer must have known that with Vangashev’s condition (his legs are completely paralysed), the court would not give Vangashev a real prison term.
Roman Veretennikov is a lawyer with the Joint Mobile Group. Since 2009, under the initiative of the Committee Against Torture, an NGO from Nizhny Novgorod, lawyers from different Russian regions have been coming to Chechnya for a month at a time to investigate cases of kidnapping and torture within the Joint Mobile Group. They only deal with people who agree to make their cases public. Joint Mobile Group is the first organisation to present evidence from survivors of torture.     

“To wipe out Wahhabis [does that need explanation?] the so called “siloviki” [members of the security services, police and armed forces] have been given a free hand here. That’s why the government turns a blind eye to all these atrocities. People in the government think that they are entitled to resort to violence to fight Wahhabism. Of course nowadays the number of kidnappings has gone down in Chechnya. Wahhabis have been ruthlessly ousted from the republic. For example, if someone’s relative joined the Wahhabis, this person’s house would be destroyed and his relative would be prosecuted. Thus by applying such methods Ramzan managed to clean things up somehow. The main turbulent zones are in Dagestan, Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria… 

We investigate these cases of kidnappings, and we insist on persecution of everyone involved in such cases, even if these people work in government agencies.”    
Aset Borchashvili, 43, met us in March 2013 to tell the story of her son Yusup Ektumayev, 20, who was then awaiting trial under what she claims are fabricated terrorism charges. Unlike many mothers before her she had been aware of his whereabouts since he was taken from the family house, but she also reported that he was forced to confess under torture. In September Yusup was sentenced to nine years in jail after being found guilty of plotting to kill law enforcement authorities, being a member of a terrorist group and buying and storing explosives. His lawyers claimed that there was not enough evidence to find him and his two friends from the village of Assinovskaya guilty.    

My name is Aset Borchashvili. I was born in 1969. My husband was killed in 1995 leaving me with three children. We were refugees. We lived in Ingushetia then…     

It happened to my son on April 17, 2012. In the morning [a few days before] we heard a bang.  I thought it was a thunder. I woke my son up to pray. He asked me about the bang. I said it was lightning. He wanted to sleep a little more. By the afternoon rumors began to spread about the detention of teenagers. My son’s friend was detained. I asked my son if he knew anything, but he said this guy couldn’t have done anything because they had been digging wild garlic. This is the only job here that allows teenagers to get some money to buy shoes and clothes. My son has been helping me around the house since he was 12. He always tried to have his own livestock, buying calves and lambs.   

Early in the evening, people from the District Department of Internal Affairs came to see us and said: “Ektumayev Yusup”. I said: “Yes, we have a person by this name.” “Where is he?” I say: “He is playing soccer and then he has to go get the cow in the evening.” He says: “We have some questions to ask him.” I told him, “Your questions bring us nothing but problems.” “If he’s innocent, let him come to the Department.” He got home and I asked him: “Are you guilty?” – “No, I’m not going there.” – “What do you mean? You are not going anywhere without me, I’m going with you.” We went. There was Imayev Yusup, the head of the Department, and my son started yelling right away. He says: “How can you prove that I’m not guilty? I’m not guilty and that’s the end of it.” He started searching for pictures on his computer and showing them to him: “Do you know this one?” He says: “No, I don’t. I don’t know anybody.” “How come you don’t know your friends?” I say: “Why do you think that they are his friends?” “Now the people from the Federal Security Service will come and we’ll prove to you that you are guilty.”   

They led me out of the room.   

In an hour or two when they let me back in, I saw a completely different person, one who had confessed to everything. He had been beaten. He had tears in his eyes, his hair was a mess. He wasn't wearing his shirt and jacket and he was shaking. I asked, “Have you been beaten?" and he nodded.   

After a month they let me see him. The first thing he told me was: “Mom, I haven’t done anything.” I said: “If you are not guilty, then change your statement.” He’s a child, he doesn’t know the Code, he doesn’t know all those tricks; he didn’t even know what he was signing. They just gave him the papers: either you’ll be informing or you’ll admit your guilt. And to be an informer is a great sin for us, so he said that he’d rather confess to everything. So he did. And these people, they just need results so that they can report back to their superiors and get promoted to the next rank and receive more money and put it in their pocket. But I didn’t bring my son up for that; I was bringing him up for myself and not for them.   

They were very angry when I filed a complaint and wrote to the human rights committee. And I did this because I knew that my son was innocent. If I am a citizen of the Russian Federation, then how can it be that these laws don’t work here in Chechnya? Why is that people in Moscow or outside of Chechnya can complain and we cannot?   

Now they are conducting identification lineups with officials. He was the first child who agreed to take part, the first person in our settlement that agreed to this procedure. I brought my kids up well. My kids are good, even though our laws say it’s a shame to praise one’s own children, but I’m not afraid of praising them because I am the one who’s brought them up. I made them into men, so why shouldn’t I protect my own child? I think I’m doing the right thing.   

People sit and keep silent. Some send their kids abroad, those who can afford it. Now it’s 2013. In one year they took away 47 young boys from our settlement. They tortured my son with an electric current. An expert examination was conducted and it confirmed that he’d been beaten; there are traces left.   

He doesn’t tell me. He’s scared that I might not be able to stand it. But they tortured him well. He was black and blue all over. Even when they were taking him outside I saw that he could hardly get into the car. These kids have no future now. Even if they manage to find a job, they are already… If they go to school, no school will take them with such a record. Why break people’s lives? Why break their lives?  

Vangashev’s lawyer explained to us that it was he who suggested Vangashev opt for this kind of procedure, so that the young man would only be given a suspended sentence. Bear in mind that this lawyer must have known that with Vangashev’s condition (his legs are completely paralysed), the court would not give Vangashev a real prison term.
On July 3, 2013 Doku Umarov, the leader of Caucasus Emirate, called on the rebels to disrupt the upcoming Sochi Olympic Games. We are posting an except of hisYoutube address here with the translation.

"I have made statements encouraging peace, in which we showed them kindness and mercy. But by their actions in the Caucasus, the unfaithful prove to us that they don't understand kindness and consider it weakness. After we made statements that we are not going to touch civilian targets, the unfaithful cracked down on the Caucasus with their all might, including the places where our civilians and Mujahideen live. We have to give them an adequate answer. Today we have to prove to those inhabiting the Kremlin (not to the people!), those evil-doers, that our kindness is not weakness. Today they walk our land and they disrespect our Muslim laws and they organise these Satanic games. Today they are planning on holding the Olympics on the bones of our ancestors where many many true Muslims were killed and buried in our lands next to the Black Sea. So we, the Mujahideen, are obliged to use all possible methods allowed by Allah not to allow this to happen. "