Khadzhi-Murat Yandiyev was born on 28 August 1975. He was a student at the University of Sociology in Moscow, but at the end of August 1999 he left Moscow because of the constant harassment he and other people from the Caucasus suffered from the police.
In the fall of 1999, hostilities started in Chechnya. By the end of January 2000, the Chechen rebel forces in Grozny decided to abandon the city and to retreat south into the mountains. Many civilians also decided to leave. The nightly escape ended in disaster after they ran into a minefield around Kirov, half way between the city centre and Alkhan-Kala, a small village outside of Grozny. Many died and many more suffered leg injuries and were treated in the hospital of Alkhan-Kala.
In the morning of February 2, 2000, Russian troops entered Alkhan-Kala and detained many of the people being treated in the hospital. News crews from Russian independent television, NTV, and US-based CNN entered Alkhan-Kala alongside the Russian forces.
On February 2, 2000, Fatima was watching the evening news on television when she suddenly recognized her son among the people detained at the hospital in Alkhan-Kala. In the news clip, which she later obtained and submitted both to local prosecutors and the European Court, Murat is shown facing the side of a bus with his hands on his head. From the pictures it is evident that he is injured and in pain.
A Russian general, later identified as then Colonel-General Aleksandr Baranov, approaches Murat and searches him. After finding a compass in one of Yandiyev’s pockets, general Baranov gives the following order:
“Take him away, God damn it, kill him, finish him off, shit – that’s the whole order. Get him out of here, God damn it. Move it, move, move it, do it, take him away, finish him off, shoot him, God damn it.”
Yandiyev is then separated from the other detainees and taken away. Nobody has seen or heard from him since and the Russian authorities has not been able to explain what happened to Murat.