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Other detention facilities for Chechen detainees have included remand prisons in Russia proper; makeshift facilities at a dormitory and a factory in Chechnya; and ad-hoc holding facilities--earthen pits or metal storage containers--on Russian military bases in Chechnya and in Russia proper. Detainees were frequently transferred among facilities, and many Human Rights Watch interviewees who provided testimony about Chernokozovo also described other facilities to which they were transferred. Identifying the legal status of the latter detention locations is difficult, while the legal grounds for arrests have never been established. Most detainees were not told the status of any charges against them during their detention, nor were most given any written acknowledgment of their detention upon their release. (137)

Stavropol territory

Five Chernokozovo detainees interviewed by Human Rights Watch were eventually transferred to remand prisons in the cities of Stavropol or Pyatigorsk, both in the Stavropol province of the Russian Federation.

Former inmates at the Pyatigorsk facility, nicknamed "Belyi Lebed"--"White Swan"-- said that, like at Chernokozovo, upon arrival they were met by a gauntlet of soldiers who beat them. The facility is most likely SIZO No.2. "Issa Habuliev" described his arrival on February 18 from Chernokozovo:

We were taken during the day [from Chernokozovo] and by the evening we were there. There was a corridor, on two sides there were soldiers the whole way, we were beaten from each side, with batons.... There were twenty-four [detainees] with me, including three women. (138)

None of those interviewed by Human Rights Watch were interrogated in Pyatigorsk, and none said that they were beaten after the initial "welcome gauntlet."

On February 22, many of the former Chernokozovo inmates were transferred from Pyatigorsk to the Stavropol Central Prison, apparently in preparation for a commission visit to "Belyi Lebed." Issa Habuliev told Human Rights Watch: "When the commission was going to come, all the prisoners were mixed together. Of the twenty-four who had been with me [when brought to Pyatigorsk], five wounded and one woman were kept behind, the others were taken to Stavropol." (139) In Stavropol, the detainees were again beaten, gauntlet-style, when they arrived, and throughout the intake process. As in Pyatigorsk, after this process they were not beaten. "Magomed Kantiev" sarcastically described the welcome at the Stavropol prison: "They accepted us very warmly. As a result, I only was able to get up on the fourth day, and after eleven or twelve days, I could finally walk again. They beat all of us, it was the time of the February 23 holidays [Red Army Day, popularly celebrated as "International Man's Day"] and they were drunk." (140)

During the intake inspection, guards examined detainees' bodies for bruises and other marks left by handling weapons, and forced the men to do exercises, beating them during the process. "Magomed Kantiev" described this to Human Rights Watch: 

They made us take off our clothes and checked us completely, all over the body, very thoroughly. While this was taking place, they made us do...deep-knee bends, and during these exercises they beat us with clubs. After these beatings, we were led to the bathroom, in groups of three or four. We went down a hall on the first floor and up to the second floor, and there again there was a "live corridor" [gauntlet] which led to the bathroom. (141)

"Aslanbek Digaev" and "Issa Habuliev," who also said that they were severely beaten when they were admitted to Stavropol, reported that the worst beatings took place in the bathroom, where they were again forced to do deep-knee bends. "Digaev" gave the following account:

In the bath they took off all our clothes and said they had to warm them [to have them sterilized]. We gave them our clothes.... They had some rubber clubs, new ones. If you got a blow, it stuck to your body, you couldn't see the effect immediately, only after the second or third day, then there were black stripes. At this time we were beaten very violently, until death's door. (142)

"Magomed Kantiev" confirmed this: 

There were seven or eight men standing and they had clubs, some in both hands, and we were beaten so badly there that we eventually all fell to the ground.…We had our arms around each others' shoulders, and they made us continue [doing the knee bend exercises] until we fell. As soon as you stopped, the guards beat us with clubs, on our bare skin. Those who couldn't stand, there was one who fell, they dragged him aside and beat him again. At the end, all of us were laying there, exhausted. All eighty or ninety of us had to do this, for them it made no difference if you were weak or strong, and so when it finally came time to go into the bath, no one could walk, we all had to crawl. And during this time they beat us, until all eighty or ninety had gone through. Then we had to go to our cells, again through the "live corridor." (143)

Military bases


During the first Chechnya war, the Russian military base at Mozdok, North Ossetia, became notorious for the torture of Chechen detainees held there. In 1999 and 2000, numerous internally displaced persons anxious about the fate of missing relatives feared that they had been detained at Mozdok, and Russian officials at checkpoints and border crossings often threatened to send Chechen males there. Human Rights Watch found at least three cases of severe beatings to the male genitalia of prisoners at one, and perhaps more, facilities in Mozdok.

"Idris Batukaev" was detained at a checkpoint outside Grozny and held in Mozdok from December 19, 1999 until March 3, 2000. He told Human Rights Watch that he was held in the basement of the prison facility, in a cell that he shared with several others. The cells had concrete floors and slabs of wood for beds.

He was ill-treated when there was a shift change, when taken for questioning, during questioning, and also when he asked to use the toilet. Sometimes guards did not permit him to go to the toilet. "If you could know, in reality, what a disgrace it was. You can go crazy. They humiliated men." (144)

On one night in February, the guards brought a detainee to "Idris Batukaev's" cell and sodomized him with batons: 

He was brought at night, the only thing I managed to ask was where he was from. They didn't even take off his handcuffs.... Then they came into the cell, beat him, and did those other things.... They came, they beat him with rifle butts, then came with dogs, you couldn't avoid them.... They were raping him, with clubs.... They took the [victim] away immediately afterwards. (145)

"Idris Batukaev" himself was interrogated on numerous occasions during his detention. He described having to walk up two flights from the basement, blindfolded, and then through the gauntlet each time: 

They put a sack on my head, and I had to pass through a corridor, I was beaten with clubs, until I got to their room. I was taken several times, they were FSB or GRU. (146) They asked me if I had taken part in the war, they wanted me to sign something, they tortured me, asking put your hands on the table, and they beat you with clubs or batons. They kicked me, with their boots on. They beat me with batons on the legs as well, I was standing, with my legs spread. (147)

"Idris Batukaev" was also severely beaten to his genitals; he alluded to the loss of a testicle as a result of these beatings. "They tortured me. I can't walk, it is difficult for me to go to the toilet. They beat me, in men's places…they beat it off, with clubs." (148) When interviewed more than six weeks after his release, "Idris Batukaev" still clearly had difficulty walking, and reported that he suffered from severe pains in his chest and abdomen. Human Rights Watch spoke to "Idris Batukaev's" wife, who said that her husband's genitals were swollen, that he frequently had blood in his urine and suffered from constipation and impotence, saying "As a man, he's useless." (149) He had only begun to seek medical treatment, because traveling to Ingushetia brought on the fear of being rearrested.

Human Rights Watch interviewed a woman whose husband was detained for approximately one month in Mozdok and had to be hospitalized after his release in early April 2000. She told Human Rights Watch that her husband also had been beaten severely in his genitals. (150) In addition, a surgeon at an Ingushetia hospital treated a seventeen- or eighteen-year-old boy who had been detained in Mozdok and said he had been beaten in the genitals. The surgeon reported that the boy's genitals were swollen and that there were indications he may have been sodomized, as he had suffered internal injuries to his colon. Despite the need for medical intervention, the young man refused to be hospitalized for fear that he might be rearrested while receiving treatment. The surgeon said that between twenty and thirty former detainees had sought medical treatment for injuries resulting from beatings and torture, and that many said they had been detained at Mozdok. (151)

"Idris Batukaev" reported that towards the end of his detention, improvements were made to the upper floors of the detention center, but not to his cell block. He believed that the prison authorities preparing for a visiting delegation--possibly the CPT--which visited the Mozdok detention facility in late February. (152)


Russian forces captured the military base at Khankala, a large complex spanning several kilometers, on December 12, 1999. Human Rights Watch interviewed eight people who were detained there in January and February 2000, and has additional information about other detainees from relatives and research shared by Memorial. The CPT visited Khankala on its second visit to the North Caucasus in April 2000; although it has not publicly described the nature of facilities used for such purposes, it reports that as of at least April 27, detainees continued to be held there. (153) Human Rights Watch received many reports of severe beatings at Khankala, and one report of rape.

None of the detainees held at Khankala were kept in even minimally acceptable facilities. According to three Human Rights Watch interviewees, prisoners at Khankala in late January and early February were kept for days in parked, overcrowded prisoner transport vehicles, usually meant to hold detainees for several hours at most. (154) They were given little or nothing to eat and no sanitary facilities.The vehicles remained outside, in the bitter cold, and were unheated. Women were also held in cages outside the vehicles, including "Fatimah Akhmedova," who at the time was six months pregnant and who told Human Rights Watch of three other women kept in cages. "Akhmedova," who arrived at Khankala on January 28, described the cages:

The cage was small, there was a bench. We couldn't raise our heads. The cage was outside on the ground, like a cage for tigers [at a zoo] and it was snowing. I was given one plastic bottle with ice which I used [as drinking water] for two days. I was given no food, and was not let out to use the toilet. (155)

At least one female was raped at Khankala. "Akhmedova" described her as a fourteen-year-old girl, but after learning her full identity from other sources, Human Rights Watch ascertained that she was nineteen. According to "Akhmedova," the young woman shared a cage with her intermittently, and told her she had been raped:

She was detained before I arrived at Khankala.... This girl, [gives name], was brought to me for five or ten minutes at a time. She was brought and taken out three times at night. She was kept in a tent, for three days, while they raped her, and ripped her clothes. Then she was dressed in military clothes and taken to Chernokozovo on January 31. She herself said she was raped, and I saw the lower part of her body [her genital region] covered in blood.... She was always kept in the tent, but I sometimes heard her screaming. They brought her the first time on January 29, and took her out three times. I met her again in Chernokozovo later. (156)

The Russian human rights organization Memorial, with the assistance of Human Rights Watch, located the girl at her parents' house in Chechnya. Her sisters told Memorial that she had been arrested on January 24 and was detained for eighteen days, but did not know where. The Memorial researcher saw, but did not interview, the traumatized young woman, who suffers from epilepsy and may be mentally ill. (157)

Guards severely beat male inmates on the way into the prisoner-transport vehicles, inside the vehicles, on the way to interrogations, and during interrogations.

"Movsar Larsanov," who had been arrested on January 15 at the Staraia Sunzha checkpoint outside Grozny, was transferred to Khankala with three other men; all were beaten severely as they were loaded onto the prisoner-transport vehicle: 

They put sacks on our heads. We were sitting on the ground, I saw sacks in their hands, then they put it over my head and tied it. I had my hands behind my head, they grabbed me by the collar and said "be quick," but it was difficult. I heard them beat another one of the guys.... He lost a tooth because of that. They beat me too, on the back of my head and on the face, and then across my fingers [indicates across knuckles of the right hand]. They kicked me. They beat all of us. Then we were put in a prisoner transport vehicle. (158)

"Badrudi Kantaev" was held in Khankala only one day after his arrest in the Chernorechiye district of Grozny on February 5, but by the end of May he still had small scars under both his eyes, which he said were caused by a blow from a rifle butt.

They beat me terribly.... They would just punch you, and say, "You damn Chechen, why aren't you falling over!" and then once they had beaten you enough to fall down, they would say, "Why did you fall down, get up." I was on my feet, and then they punched me, and when I fell, they then hit me with a rifle butt, in the face. (159)

Interrogations took place in tents not far from the prisoner-transport vehicles. "Salman Sulumov," held in Khankala from January 28 to 31, was beaten before he was ever asked a question.

I was taken to interrogation and shown into a tent.... When I entered I was told to go up to the table with my hands behind my neck. I obeyed, thinking they would just examine me ...then I felt a kick [from behind] in my kidney. When I asked why they did this, they said I must not ask any questions. They said that was only the beginning, that they would smash my head with the guns. There were four of them in the room, they were all armed with guns. They were not conscript soldiers, they were either OMON or kontraktniki. (160)

I said to the soldiers that if I had some information to give I would give it, but that they didn't need to beat me. They agreed. (161)

"Sultan Deniev," who was arrested in Gekhi Chu on February 7 and detained at Khankala until approximately February 11, described being tortured with a soldering iron during interrogation. He showed Human Rights Watch a small scar, which he said was from the burns he received. On February 10, guards took Deniev from the prisoner transport vehicle to the interrogation tent:

[They made me] pull my sweater over my head so all I could see was his boots, I couldn't see his face. For ten minutes they beat me and took me into some kind of tent. They stripped me to the waist and beat me again. They slapped me with a [handgun] and used the soldering iron. They burnt me on the hands, back and legs. (162)

An expatriate researcher who travelled to Gekhi Chu in April 2000 spoke to a man there who had been detained at the same time as "Sultan Deniev." His account corroborated that of "Sultan Deniev," including reports that men had been burned with soldering irons while detained in Khankala. (163)

Although all former detainees interviewed by Human Rights Watch had been held there in late January or early February, information from other sources suggests that detainees were tortured for months thereafter. "Askerkhan Umarkhanov," a journalist, told Human Rights Watch that he accompanied staff of the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry (MChS) on a visit to what appeared to be a checkpoint within the Khankala military base on April 5. There, he viewed the corpses of two men that bore signs of torture, and saw men being beaten there. 

According to "Umarkhanov," MChS had received a call on April 3, were told that there were six men in detention at Khankala, and MChS should come "in a few days." On April 5, the MChS workers, accompanied by guards, collected two bodies from Khankala: 

It was clear that they had been beaten. One had a broken arm, it was in a wooden splint. They had been shot in the legs, both had black and blue heels, from beating.... We wrote down a description of the bodies, the color of the eyes, teeth, and so on, so the relatives could identify them. They had been beaten very badly, when we lifted them, the spine [of one] was broken, the body was flexible in strange places, not stiff like you would expect a corpse to be.... We searched their pockets, behind their ears, everywhere, to find notes or anything to document who they were. But there was nothing. (164)

According to "Askerkhan Umarkhanov" the bodies of the victims were buried, unidentified, by MChS in Alkhan-Kala, a village on the western outskirts of Grozny. 

Other Military Encampments

Human Rights Watch received reports of detainees being tortured at other military encampments. Saipudin Saadulayev, aged thirty-nine, was a witness to several killings in the Staropromyslovski district of Grozny, documented in an earlier Human Rights Watch report. (165) On January 22 or 23, soldiers brought him and seven other detainees to a military camp in the Karpinsky district, near the Russian Orthodox cemetery, and put them in a deep pit. (166) Human Rights Watch independently located one of the other seven men, "Aslanbek Digaev," who described it as a place known locally as Solyonaia Balka; both men described the soldiers stationed there as from different regions and noted that at least some of them were OMON troops. 

Shortly after they were put in the pit, a soldier entered the pit and began beating them, saying, "You dogs, you sheep, you were killing our comrades. Now we will show you!" OMON troops were watching from the top of the pit, laughing. After the beating, the soldiers ordered the men to remove their hats and poured water on them. "It was cold and I was wet all over, and the water began to freeze," said Saipudin Saadulayev.

According to "Aslanbek Digaev," the soldiers also threw heavy objects onto the detainees in the trench. "They picked up big stones and dropped them into the trench, they struck us. The trenches were four meters deep, it was around the camp. They threw big stones, one hit me on the head." (167)

The next day, the eight men were loaded onto a truck, handcuffed painfully to the railing. They were taken to another military camp between Grozny and Argun where they were detained in a wire cage on the back of a prisoner transport vehicle together with nine other men. The men were briefly questioned by a Russian official before being put back on the truck: "It was very cold in the truck, even worse than in the pit. Our boots were wet. We had to stand up [because it was so crowded], but the roof was too low to stand straight." (168) At 2:00 a.m., a group of soldiers came and beat some of the men, punching them and using rubber batons, taking two men's leather coats before leaving: "The whole night we had to warm each other, sharing one jacket," Saipudin Saadulaev said. The next day, Saadulaev managed to secure his release by promising to return to Grozny to try to help find a missing Russian soldier. Four of the eighteen men were released together with Saipudin Saadulaev. "Digaev" and the other six men from Karpinky were then transferred to Chernokozovo.

Soldiers routinely detain and abuse civilians at military positions. "Khamzat Vakuev" was taken to a field between Serzhen Yurt and Shali after he was detained on April 28, in the wake of an attack on a convoy in the area. (169) He and four other detainees were kept in the field overnight, handcuffed and with their feet tied together with wire.

They beat us very often. As soon as they drank, they would beat us. They humiliated us.... They would put their fingers right to our noses, and flick it. There was no interrogation. They just asked questions, they wanted me to confess to taking part in the attack on the convoy, but they knew I wasn't a fighter.... At the field there were only soldiers, no other prisoners. They have pits there, but they didn't put me in a pit. There were so many soldiers there that they didn't need to guard us. I tried not to move around, I was trying to stay with the ones who had already beaten me, so I wouldn't be beaten again. (170)

The following day "Khamzat Vakuev" was separated from the other men, put in a truck, and taken to another military encampment near Ersenoi, where he was put in a trench. "Everywhere there were trenches. They put me in a trench in Ersenoi.... In Ersenoi I was not beaten very violently, just a little bit. When I was in the trench, then passing soldiers can kick you or slap you, as they like." (171) When Human Rights Watch interviewed "Vakuev," he was seeking medical treatment in Ingushetia; he had been hospitalized following his release because he was coughing blood, he was also diagnosed with prolapsed kidneys, a condition associated with the effects of severe beatings. (172)

Six men detained in Tsotsin Yurt on April 27 were also held in a covered pit for five days. Two of the men were removed from the facility on May 2, and were left by the side of the road, severely injured from the ill-treatment and harsh conditions in which they had been held. One, Zhebir Turpalkhanov, died a half hour after he arrived home. Although no autopsy was performed, his relatives believe the beatings and harsh conditions in detention were a contributing factor, if not the cause, of his death. (173) The other, Akhmed Abuyev, who survived, believed that the pair had been left for dead. He was interviewed by the local head of administration on a videotape prepared by villagers, in which he said that he was severely beaten with truncheons, and stabbed with a large skewer typically used in the region for shish-kebab. On the videotape, Akhmed Abuyev shows parts of his body where he was injured: clearly visible are stab-like wounds near his right shoulder and on both shins, and a wound that appeared to be an abrasion on the left shin. In addition, his right upper arm appeared bruised. Zhebir Turpalkhanov's body is also shown on the videotape; although the body was covered with a sheet, what appeared to be bruising was visible on his left collarbone. (174) According to a relative, before he died Zhebir Turpalkhanov said that although blindfolded, he believed the pit where they were held was in a military encampment because he frequently heard helicopters taking off and landing. (175)

Other Ad-hoc Detention Centers

Tolstoy Yurt

At least one building of the "NGD" oil refinery outside Tolstoy Yurt was used as a detention center from at least early February until February 16. Former detainees described the facility as a "basement" or a "half earthen" structure, with one large room where all the detainees were held. Upon release, one detainee was given a certificate that indicated that the facility was under the authority of the Ministry of Justice, at least during the time of his detention from February 7 to 16. (176) However, at that time the Ministry of Justice claimed that Chernokozovo was the only detention facility in Chechnya under its authority. (177) "Sultan Deniev," who had initially been arrested in Gekhi Chu on February 7, was transferred to Tolstoy Yurt or around February 11. He told Human Rights Watch that during interrogation there, he and another man, a boxer who had also been transferred from Khankala, were beaten and threatened with summary execution: 

It was a big building, half-earth, and we saw gas stoves and beds and a crowd of people. There were fifty from Shaami Yurt there, and ten or more from different parts and then twenty or maybe more of us. So in total eighty. It was clean with gas stoves and beds, and I thought that they would be more humane [than at Khankala]. (178)

The first day nothing happened, the second day we were fingerprinted and photographed, again [there was] interrogation.... They took a Makarov gun and beat me several times. He was close to breaking my hand, he was twisting it so hard. Me and this boxer [were taken to be interrogated at the same time]. [Afterwards,] the boxer was difficult to recognize, he was red all over and it was difficult for him to stand up, he was beaten so badly.... 

Then they put me on a wall, and said, "In the name of the Russian Federation, according to Article 208 you will be shot." This was in the second interrogation. I said, "OK, my life is in your hands." I just knew nothing would help. Then they got more angry and said, "What, don't you want to live, are you a fanatic?" (179)

After being threatened with execution, "Sultan Deniev" was returned to the room with the barracks. He was released on February 16. (180)

Tolstoy Yurt held both fighters and civilians. Among the latter were medical professionals (including the Chechen minister of health) who had left Grozny during the general evacuation of the capital by Chechen fighters in early February. (181) A forty-four-year-old pediatrician sustained broken ribs as a result of the beatings at Tolstoy Yurt. Although he cannot travel outside Chechnya because his documents were not returned to him when he was released, Human Rights Watch was able to interview his sister, to whom he had spoken at great length about his detention. She told Human Rights Watch that after he was detained in Grozny, Russian soldiers told him he would be sent to the Urus-Martan hospital, together with the wounded. Instead, however,

They passed Urus-Martan and went to Tolstoy Yurt, and it was at that point that [my brother] realized that they were being taken to prison, not the hospital. There were many [Russian] generals there, and also [Russian] journalists. They were thrown out of the bus and beaten. At that time, two of [my brother's] ribs were broken. It was very damp and they spent the night there, this was in a sort of basement; 110 people were counted, and four died during the night. There were twenty physicians, the rest were civilians from the hospital. (182)

"Leyla Saigatova's" husband was the driver of a bus transporting the wounded and the medical personnel. She said her husband had also been held for a similar time in Tolstoy Yurt. (183) Human Rights Watch saw and briefly spoke with the father of a twenty-one-year-old man who had been among the fighters as they left Alkhan-Kala, he also said he was held for a week in Tolstoy Yurt before being transfered to Chernokozovo and then to other detention centers. (184)

The Internat in Urus-Martan (185)

A former boarding school for girls is one of three acknowledged detention centers in the Urus-Martan district. (186) During the interwar period the school served as a religious educational center; it was adapted for use as a detention facility after Russian forces assumed control of Urus-Martan, from at least January 2000. According to three former internat detainees interviewed by Human Rights Watch, the Penza OMON had immediate command responsibility of the facility in January and February, when the abuses we document were committed. The multi-story building is surrounded by a fence with signs indicating that the area is mined. (187) The internat became notorious early on for its filthy conditions and for the abuse of detainees held and interrogated there; the physical conditions improved somewhat after March 2000, but abuse persisted. Amnesty International interviewed two released detainees who were tortured in the internat; one man was brutally gang-raped. (188) During her April visit to Chechnya, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson sought and was denied access to the facility. 

"Issa Zagoyev," in Urus-Martan, reported that he was held by the "Penza OMON" from January 20-26, 2000. He said there was no heat and no place to sleep:

For six days, they let me go to the toilet only one time, it was the same for the others. We were thirteen people in a small cell, three by five meters.... It was impossible to stand still because of the cold, I had to jump and run to keep warm. We couldn't sleep because there was only the concrete floor. There was a wooden bench, but it was impossible to sleep. Relatives were allowed to bring food, but the Russians would keep all the food for themselves. (189)

"Issa Zagoyev" was not beaten while at the facility, although he saw other men be beaten. 

They take you out one by one, make you spread your legs and punch you in the eye. A big guy stands there, and they surround you with automatics while the big one beats you, while you are handcuffed. I was not beaten, but I saw the others being beaten...They would beat them and make them lie on the [cold] concrete for hours... (190)

"Abu Uruskhanov" was detained at the internat from February 29 to March 4, 2000, with twenty-eight men in a cell measuring only approximately 2.5 by four or five meters. (191) As soon as he arrived, "Urshukhanov" had to "run the gauntlet" of beatings: 

When we were transferred, there were several [prisoner transport vehicles] full. They opened the door and someone said, "Get out." There was a corridor [gauntlet], and OMON were lining both sides. When you passed through this corridor, you got beaten some with clubs, some kicked us. There were about seventy of us. When I passed, they said, "run," because if you didn't move fast you just got beaten more. So we ran into the internat. There was a big hall, they put us on our knees, with our hands behind our heads facing the wall. We had to stay that way for more than an hour. But if you got tired, you could lie down on your stomach, if you didn't have the strength to kneel. But the floor was concrete--it was winter, and very cold. (192)

"Abu Uruskhankov" was beaten several times with a club during his first interrogation, and was threatened with torture on another occasion. He told Human Rights Watch that several others detained with him had been severely injured because of beatings.

"Ilyas Makhmadov" was detained at the internat from April 5 to 15, 2000. He described the conditions as significantly less crowded--the number of people in his cell fluctuated between six and ten. He also described the cell as being lice-infested, with plank beds and a bucket in the corner to use as a toilet; there were no bathing facilites. 

"Ilyas Makhmadov" was beaten during his first interrogation in an office at the internat, and subsequently threatened. On one occasion, he was forced to sit at a table with his hands clasped behind his neck for approximately two hours, and was beaten with rubber truncheons on the back of his neck and on the top of his hands. After that questioning began. "They were masked, two of them, in police uniform. The same ones questioned me as had beaten me. I could recognize them by their voices. They thought I would never guess who they were, but on other days, they walked around without masks." (193) "Makhmadov" was also beaten by guards in his cell: 

The first two days, the SOBR (194) and OMON had fun with us. They would open the cell, and two or three of them would come in. They would line us up and have some kind of contest, whoever hit the hardest was the winner. If they hit us and we fell down, they would applaud. The other prisoners in my cell told me that before I came this happened every day, but when I got there, this happened only for [a period of] four or five days. (195)

On another occasion, "Makhmadov" was beaten while standing against a wall. "They forced me to lean against it, with my hands on the wall above my head. And they kicked me and punched me that way. They would do this during the first two or three days, then they left me alone." (196) As a result of the beatings, for a week afterwards the back of "Makhmadov's" neck was swollen, and he was unable even to turn his head. He also had pain and bruising on his kidneys.

After relatives of seventeen-year-old Said Visaev saw him taken away, they went to the internat on February 10 to see whether he was detained there and to try to bribe officials to release him. A woman approached the relatives and gave them a tip that the body of a boy had been found in the boiler room of the Urus-Martan hospital. There, the relatives found the body of Said Visaev. 

The face was unrecognizable--we identified him by his eyebrows and socks. His mouth was swollen, his right eye was swollen, his left eye was missing and the back of his head was smashed. His hands were bloodied. The boy's uncle said there was a big hole in the back of his head--he suspects it was bashed in by a bayonet. I saw bruises on his chest, large bruises. (197)

Human Rights Watch was unable to confirm whether Said Visaev suffered these lethal wounds in the internat or in another facility in Urus-Martan.

When the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, visited Chechnya on April 3, 2000, she requested, but was denied, access to the internat. (198) The first visit by international monitors to the facility of which Human Rights Watch is aware is the CPT, in mid-April. (199) "Ilyas Makhmadov" believed that the guards stopped beating internat inmates because they had received information that representatives of a "human rights commission" were expected; it is possible that the commission referred to was the CPT. (200)

Local Police Stations or Command Posts, and Abuse in Transit

Russian forces often use police stations as facilities for prolonged detention, since most are equipped with temporary holding cells. In some, crowded conditions over long periods rendered them inhumane, and detainees frequently reported that they were beaten and ill-treated while detained. 

Many detainees who were arrested in January and early February 2000 were taken to the police station (also used as the local command post, orkomendatura) in Znamenskoye before being transferred to Chernokozovo or released. Human Rights Watch interviewed nine people who had been detained and/or initially questioned there in mid-to late January. (201)

"Alimkhan Visaev" was arrested in late January in northern Chechnya, and was brought to Znamenskoye with thirty other men rounded up in his town. He spent four days at Znamenskoye, enduring beatings upon arrival and in his cell. He shared a police lock-up meant for two with seven other detainees: (202)

[After we arrived at Znamenskoye] we were kept outside in the cold for two hours with our hands raised and the abuses began then. If you moved, you were beaten with rifle buts or kicked. I was beaten sporadically, beaten and kicked. We were beaten by about ten people, one was very tall, about two meters and heavy. I saw the face of one guard, who took off my Muslim hat--we were not allowed to look around at the others--he was tall, fat, over thirty years old and in camouflage uniform. I heard they were Volgograd OMON.... 

We were kept outside for two hours and then ... we were called out one by one for interrogation. (203)

After being interrogated, "Visaev" was transferred to a temporary holding cell in a separate building:

No threats were made in the police department, but after we were taken to [temporary holding cells] the beatings began.... There were eight people in a cell for two, we put the beds together and four slept on the beds, four on the concrete floor. 

Four people interviewed by Human Rights Watch, all of whom were arrested at their homes in Grozny on February 4, were held in Znamenskoye overnight before being transferred to Chernokozovo. During the journey, two of them reported, they were treated inhumanely, forced to lie on top of one another, which nearly suffocated those at the bottom of the pile. "Ali Baigiraev" was transferred on February 5 from Znamenskoye to Chernokozovo:

[Thirty-two of us] were taken further on a bus [GAZ 53, prisoner-transport vehicle], loaded on top of each other like logs. The ones who were underneath were screaming, they were short of breath. If the ones on top moved, the soldiers hit him with a gun. When we arrived at Chernokozovo...two people underneath were unconscious. They just dragged them out. (204)

"Yakub Tasuev," who was transferred at the same time as "Ali Baigiraev," described the same incident to Human Rights Watch: "They loaded all thirty-two people into one small vehicle for transporting five or six people, it was a GAZ 53 for transporting the arrested. We were loaded on top of one another." (205) Although neither "Baigiraev" nor "Tasuev" reported how long the journey lasted, other interviewees transferred from Znamenskoye on other days said that the trip took approximately one hour.

Human Rights Watch has received isolated reports of other police stations or command posts where detainees are abused physically. "Rizvan Visangiriev," for example, was detained from March 3 to March 4 at the Staropromyslovski command post in Grozny, together with his son and twelve other men. He was beaten upon entry to the facility, gauntlet-style, also later on at night. 

That night they took us out one by one, put handcuffs on us, and beat us. The soldiers were all drunk. At about 11:00 p.m. or midnight, they took me out, covered my head with my jacket so I couldn't see anything. They threw me into a room with seven or eight people in it. I was taken out of the cell into the corridor and they put on handcuffs. In the room, three men beat me unconscious. They punched and kicked me, beat me with batons and rifle buts. They said, "You killed our people, you are a [rebel] fighter." It was dark and they were beating me from all sides. I couldn't see who they were, I was trying to hide [protect] my face. The beating lasted for about a half hour. They beat me until I fell over, then held me up until I came round and beat me again. This happened once or twice. I was still unconscious when they took me back to the cell. (206)

"Visangiriev" and his son were released the following day after intervention by Chechens loyal to Bislan Gantimirov, a pro-Moscow Chechen leader. Prior to this, "Visangiriev" said, he had to sign a form stating that property confiscated from him had been returned and that he had no complaints against the police.

Some former detainees interviewed by Human Rights Watch were unable to identify the location where they were kept because they were blindfolded or otherwise kept in a state of complete disorientation. They were, however, clearly detained by Russian forces. One of them, "Zurab Aliev," was detained late at night on March 1 in his Grozny home by men he believes were FSB agents; they put a sack over his head and drove him to an undisclosed location within Grozny. He was kept alone in a pitch-dark cell, in what "Zurab Aliev" believes may have been the basement of an abandoned office building, although he could hear sounds such as coughing which made him think others were detained there as well. He was beaten and interrogated at the beginning of his detention, and then once every three or so days for the first two weeks, after which, he told Human Rights Watch, "they forgot about me." They would ask him about his activities and wanted him to collaborate with them by giving names of fighters he knew. 

On one occasion, approximately one week after he was detained, "Aliev" was beaten while suspended by his feet, his head covered. 

I had the feeling they tied me with rope, they tied my feet together and pulled me up with some sort of pully. I had been standing on my feet, and they made a loop with the rope around my feet. They pulled the rope and I fell, then they wound it up, so that I was hanging. I don't really know how long I was in that position. They beat me, on my face, but mostly on my torso, in the area of my genitals and my lungs.... While hanging, they burned me with a cigarette, on my buttocks. (207)

"Zurab Aliev" was released on March 22, after being driven around for half an hour and thrown out of a car. When interviewed by Human Rights Watch, he was seeking medical treatment for injuries received as a result of the beatings, including kidney problems (including inflammation and a prolapsed kidney), prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate gland), and inflamed testicles.