10 June 2010, Thursday

The European Court of Human Rights has found Russia responsible for the disappearance of eight Chechen men detained at their homes by Russian federal troops in 2001 and 2002, Russian Justice Initiative reported today.  

The applicants in Vakayeva and Others v. Russia (no. 2220/05) are the close relatives of Shamil and Shamkhan Vakayev, Ramzan Dudayev, Salambek Tatayev, and Yunus Abdurazakov who on 15 March 2001 were all gathered at the Vakayev residence in Duba-Yurt, Chechnya. At around 12:45 p.m. a group of about 30 servicemen arrived at the house in two APCs, and a fire fight broke out, during which Shamil Vakayev and several others were seriously wounded. After the shooting ceased, the servicemen burst into the house and started beating everyone inside, even the wounded men. The servicemen then dragged Shamil and Shamkhan Vakayev, Ramzan Dudayev, Salambek Tatayev and Yunus Abdurazakov into their vehicles and drove away in the direction of the Dachu-Borzoy military base.  

Four days later, on 19 March 2001, the spokesperson for the Federal Security Service officially confirmed that 5 men had been arrested at Duba-Yurt. Approximately two months following the detention, on 14 May 2001, the Russian state-owned television channel RTR broadcast a video recording of the operation during which the applicants’ relatives were detained.  

On 2 April 2005, three months after the applicants appealed to the European Court, a group of soldiers abducted Shamsudi Vakayev, the husband of one of the applicants and the father of disappeared Shamil and Shamkhan Vakayev. The applicant discovered that a similar group of armed men had that same night detained members of the Elmurzaev family, also residents of Duba-Yurt and applicants in the case Bitiyeva and others v Russia, decided on 23 April 2009.  

Although the domestic investigation into the disappearances produced no tangible results, the European Court noted that domestic prosecutorial and investigative bodies on several occasions indicated the high probability that state officials bore responsibility for the crimes, notably the regional FSB.  

The applicant in Ilyasova v Russia (no. 26966/06) is the mother of Magomed-Salekh and Magomed-Ali Ilyasov who were detained by Russian military servicemen in the village of Katyr-Yurt, Chechnya, on 12 November 2002. The applicant was informed by a local resident with connections to the FSB that her sons had been detained in the Staropromyslovskiy ROVD before being transferred to another detention center. The investigation into the brothers’ disappearance produced no results.

 In its unanimous judgments, the European Court found that:

  • The right to life has been violated in respect of Shamil and Shamkhan Vakayev, Ramzan Dudayev, Salambek Tatayev, Yunus Abdurazakov, Shamsudi Vakayev, Magomed-Salekh Ilyasov and Magomed-Ali Ilyasov (Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights);
  • The Russian authorities have failed to conduct an effective investigation into the above violations (Article 2);
  • The manner in which the applicants’ complaints were dealt with by the Russian authorities constituted inhuman treatment (Article 3);
  • Shamil and Shamkhan Vakayev, Ramzan Dudayev, Salambek Tatayev, Yunus Abdurazakov, Shamsudi Vakayev, Magomed-Salekh Ilyasov and Magomed-Ali Ilyasov were unlawfully deprived of their liberty (Article 5);
  • The applicants did not have access to an effective remedy before the Russian authorities for the violations (Article 13 in conjunction with Article 2 of the Convention).

The applicants in both cases were awarded 473,800 euro in respect of material and moral damages. The applicants in Vakayeva and Others were assisted in bringing their case to the ECtHR by the Russian Justice Initiative. The applicant in Ilyasova was represented by lawyers from the Memorial/EHRAC Human Rights Centre.  

For more information,  

In Moscow, Vanessa Kogan: + 7 (495) 915-0869; Roemer Lemaître: +7 (906) 772-3632.

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