The present report documents eighty-seven cases of "disappearance" that occurred between September 2000 and January 2002. Of these cases, thirty-three of the people "disappeared" after detention in raids on private residences (in so-called "targeted" operations), thirty-four "disappeared" after arrests during large-scale sweep operations, thirteen were picked up and "disappeared" from roads, markets, and other public places, and three "disappeared" after being stopped at checkpoints. This contrasts with the fifty cases of "disappearance" documented by Human Rights Watch in its March 2001 report, "The Dirty War in Chechnya."34 The majority of the "disappearances" in that report, all of which took place between January 2000 and January 2001, occurred during large-scale sweep operations and at checkpoints.
Although there is an overlap in the periods covered by the two reports, the large increase in the number of targeted operations documented by Human Rights Watch is consistent with the shift in tactics by Russian security forces since the beginning of 2001. A January 2002 Council of Europe report notes that "`anti-terrorist" or `special' operations are increasingly being carried out to target individuals suspected of supporting or participating in terrorist activities."35 The report adds that "[a]s a result of these operations, complaints and reports concerning missing people, ill-treatment and arbitrary killings continue to be received." 36
It is important to emphasize that while the cases documented in this report are representative, they do not reflect fully the scale of "disappearances" taking place in Chechnya. As of December 1, 2001 there were 793 outstanding cases of missing persons registered with the Office of the Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation on Human Rights in Chechnya, which has its main office in Znamenskoe.37 Regrettably, the office of the special representative's missing persons list does not distinguish between cases where the person "disappeared" after being detained by federal security forces and those where the person is simply missing. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Assistance Group to Chechnya, which is also based in Znamenskoe, received seventy-seven cases of persons alleged to have been "kidnapped or killed" during 2001. The OSCE notes that "the vast majority of reported cases refer to young males.... The complainants usually blame the Russian armed forces, frequently identifying the units..."38 The corpses of at least twenty-five people whose "disappearances" are documented in this report were subsequently found, substantiating fears that forced disappearances in Chechnya facilitated extrajudicial executions. Some bore stab or gunshot wounds, suggesting that they had been extrajudicially executed. Some bodies were badly burned or charred, or had been blown up, suggesting that those responsible wished to conceal the killings.
Viskhan Makhmudov (detained while driving in Grozny, June 2, 2001)
Viskhan Makhmudov, a Chechen police officer born in 1980, "disappeared" in Grozny after leaving home in his car on the morning of June 2, 2001 together with another police officer, Ali Tasuev, and two men-Baudin Dzambudov and one other. The next day, after Viskhan Makhmudov failed to return home, his father, Sultan Makhmudov, contacted the police station where his son worked. Sultan Makhmudov learned from his son's police colleagues that he had been detained together with the other men. According to Sultan Makhmudov, the police advised him that the men had been detained by forces in camouflage uniforms and masks.39
As soon as he learned of his son's detention, Makhmudov filled out a police report and petitioned Grozny and Chechnya procuracy officials; Viskhan Makhmudov's police unit petitioned the military procuracy. A "missing person" investigation was formally opened without result. Relatives also contacted the office of Vladimir Kalamanov. Makhmudov had no further information until June 21 or 22, when he saw Baudin Dzambudov's corpse on television. Dzambudov's body was dressed in a military uniform and holding a gun and radio.40 The program alleged that Dzambudov had fought as a rebel in Gudermes. To date Makhmudov's family have been unable to obtain official confirmation of Viskhan Makhmudov's detention.
Isa Kaplanov and Ruslan Sadulaev (detained in Novye Aldi district on May 12, 2001)
At 10:30 a.m. on May 12, 2001, six APCs carrying armed men in masks drove up to the house of the Kaplanov family on Voronezhskaia Street in the Novye Aldi district. The men broke into the house, conducted a search, and detained thirty-six-year-old Isa Kaplanov, his thirty-nine-year-old brother-in-law Ruslan Sadulaev, and a neighbor. The armed men took the three men away, leaving Kaplanov's wife and sister behind.
The following morning, the neighbor returned to Voronezhskaia Street and told Khadizhat Kaplanova, Isa Kaplanov's mother, what had happened. According to his account, the armed men had taken the detainees to the police precinct in Grozny's Staropromyslovskii district and held them there overnight. In the morning, at around 11:30 a.m., they loaded Kaplanov and Sadulaev into a police car and drove them away in an unknown direction. At approximately the same time, they released the neighbor.41
In subsequent weeks and months, Kaplanova appealed to numerous officials, including the provisional administration of Chechnya, for help in her search for her son and son-in-law. On May 18, she filed a complaint with the Chechnya republic procuracy. The Grozny city procuracy opened a criminal investigation, which was assigned to investigator R. Ibragimov. According to Kaplanova, Ibragimov questioned several eyewitnesses to the detention and established the involvement of two military servicemen from Ekaterinburg. As an investigator with the civilian procuracy Ibragimov was unable to question the servicemen. Kaplanova told Human Rights Watch that Ibragimov informed her that he sent the case materials to the military procuracy at Khankala military base for further investigation. However, in two letters to Kaplanova dated August 4 and 27, 2001, that military procuracy denied ever receiving the case materials.42
In a letter dated November 30, 2001, the Chechnya republic procuracy informed Kaplanova that it had reviewed the case materials and had taken the investigation under its control.43 It remained unclear, however, whether the two military servicemen were ever questioned.
Zelimkhan Murdalov (detained in Grozny on January 2, 2001)
Zelimkhan Murdalov was detained on Pavel Musorov Street in the October district of Grozny on January 2, 2001. Murdalov's relatives learned of his detention from an elderly woman who had witnessed the incident and tried to intervene.44 The witness told Murdalov's parents that a person matching their son's description had been beaten and detained by OMON from Khanty-Mansiisk and then taken to the October district temporary police precinct in the vicinity of the Minutka Square, where the Khanty-Mansiisk OMON were based. Murdalov's father told Human Rights Watch that Major Aleksandr Prilepin, the deputy chief of the October district temporary police precinct, confirmed to him on January 3 that Zelimkhan Murdalov was in their custody, and said that he had been found in possession of marijuana.45 Major Prilepin reportedly told Murdalov to bring a lawyer in order to facilitate the release of his son.
When Rukiyat Murdalova returned at lunchtime to the temporary police precinct with a lawyer, she and her husband were told that everyone had left for the day. They were later told by an officer at the temporary police precinct that their son had been released earlier that day at 9:00 a.m., despite the fact that his father had been at present outside the temporary police precinct base continually since 8:20 a.m. The Murdalovs were also told that that Colonel Kondakov, the chief of the October district temporary police precinct, had gone on home leave and would return to Grozny in two weeks' time. On January 5, 2001, the Murdalovs went to the procuracy to complain. According to them, a procurator named Ponomarev together with the military commander of Grozny, Colonel Nikolai Kolianov, went personally to the October precinct to investigate, and discovered that official records indicated that Zelimkhan had been released at 10:45 a.m. on January 3, 2001. When Astamir Murdalov was shown the release record he saw that his son's signature had been forged. According to him, "I looked at the signature and saw that it was not the signature of our son. Now three or four examinations have been made and have proved that it is not the signature of our son. Inspector Zhuravlev forged the signature."46
On January 6, 2001, Ponomarev traveled to Gudermes and reported the case to Vsevolod Chernov, the Republic of Chechnya procurator, and General Ivan Babichev, the military commander for Chechnya, and a criminal investigation was opened the following day. Unusually, the report triggered a massive state investigation, almost certainly as a result of the Murdalov family's extensive connections in Chechnya. General Babichev traveled to Grozny to question officials at October district precinct, including Colonel Kondakov, who was supposedly on home leave at the time. All insisted that Zelimkhan Murdalov had been released.
Procuracy officials began their investigation in earnest, interrogating personnel of the October precinct, including Colonel Kondakov, Major Prilepin, and a soldier by the name of Lapin, who detained Murdalov on the street and allegedly beat him.47 An arrest warrant was issued for a precinct inspector called Zhuravlev, whom investigators believe forged Zelimkhan Murdalov's signature on the release record. This notwithstanding, Zhuravlev was given backdated permission to return home by October precinct chief Colonel Kondakov before he could be arrested. On January 17, 2001 an arrest warrant was issued for Lapin, and again Colonel Kondakov issued backdated permission for him to return home before procuracy investigators could arrest him. Lapin was eventually arrested in January 2002, but the investigation of Zhuravlev has been further complicated by the unexplained loss of large sections of the case files.
On January 19, Zelimkhan Murdalov's parents petitioned Akhmed Kadyrov, head of the Moscow-appointed provisional administration of Chechnya, to help secure justice for their son.48 Kadyrov took letters on their behalf to President Vladimir Putin, then-Minister of Internal Affairs Vladimir Rushailo, and Director of the Federal Security Service Nikolai Patrushev. Despite assurances from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, no progress has been made. To date, the Murdalovs have yet to find their son's body, despite searching various burial grounds around Grozny. They believe that their son's body may have been among the twenty-six corpses believed to have been buried under a house that was destroyed near the October district precinct and later disinterred.49
The case of Zelimkhan Murdalov is at once highly unusual and depressingly familiar. Because of the family's influence in Chechnya, the procuracy diligently undertook to investigate, questioning suspects and issuing arrest warrants. Most relatives of the "disappeared" tell Human Rights Watch that criminal investigations go nowhere once they are formally opened. Yet despite the investigation, only one low-level arrest has been made, and Zelimkhan's body has never been found, an outcome that is all too common.
Shamkhan Musaev (detained at Dom Byta bus station, Grozny, December 16, 2000).
On December 16, 2000, Shamkhan Musaev (born 1973) left his home in Grozny on an official trip to Gudermes for his employers at the fire inspectorate. He never returned. After several days, his relatives began to search for him. They discovered that he had left Gudermes on December 16. His mother, Talsaidon Musaeva, later found witnesses at the "Dom Byta" bus station in Grozny who told her that they had seen security forces wearing camouflage uniforms on the same day check her son's passport before detaining him.50 She showed a photograph of her son to the witnesses who confirmed that it was the same man they had seen being driven away by security forces in a gray UAZ vehicle.
The family petitioned authorities to try and learn Musaev's fate.51 Musaeva visited the military base at Khankala, where the family believes Shamkhan is being held, but military officials there told her they "had no information" about him. Musaeva also visited the Grozny and Lenin district military commander's offices and the Grozny city procuracy, and criminal proceedings were initiated.52 She holds little hope that her son will be found: "I don't know [if authorities are looking for him] but I think that if they were, they would have found him already."53
At around 6:00 a.m. on December 4, 2000, five Russian security personnel wearing masks and armed with submachine guns broke down the door of Mairudin Khantiev's apartment in the Staropromyslovski district of Grozny. Khantiev (born 1972), who was asleep at the time, was dragged from his home and bundled into a white Niva jeep with blacked-out windows.54 Khantiev's family has had no news about him since he then, despite extensive searching.
A relative told Human Rights Watch that the family made enquiries as to his whereabouts with the temporary police precinct, the local military commander's office, the head of the administration, and the procuracy.55 The family also contacted Memorial, the local office of Vladimir Kalamanov, and visited detention facilities in Nalchik, Mozdok, Piatigorsk, and Stavropol without success. Although the Grozny city procuracy opened a criminal investigation into Mairudin Khantiev's "kidnapping," the family was advised by the deputy procurator in December 2001 that the inspector who had investigating the case was killed and that the case had been suspended, pending its reassignment to a new investigator.56
Apti Islamov and Said-Emin Islamov (detained at a checkpoint in Grozny, October 14, 2000)
Apti Islamov (born 1977) and brother Said-Emin (born 1981), were detained and "disappeared" while driving home from work on October 14, 2000 together with Avdi Shapkhalov (born 1972) and Shamkhan Gadaev (born 1976). All four worked at the Ministry of Internal Affairs office in the Zavodskoi district of Grozny. Witnesses told a relative of the Islamovs' that the car was stopped by Russian soldiers at the Chernoreche checkpoint (No. 160) between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m.57 The soldiers reportedly contacted the Lenin district by walkie-talkie. Soldiers in masks arrived in an APC and a UAZ car soon after and took the four men away in the APC, while the Islamovs' car was driven away by other soldiers.
The Ismailov's relatives began to search for them soon after. They petitioned Grozny's Mayor Beslan Gantamirov to assist them. Gantamirov reportedly visited the Khankala military base with one of the relatives to enquire about the two men's fate. At Khankala, the mayor and the relative of the Islamovs' spoke to an officer named Baranov and to the military commander himself, who reportedly told her "if they're here we'll check their documents and let them off." Nothing concrete came of the visit.58 An appeal to the military procurator was similarly fruitless. The four men's employer initiated criminal proceedings on their behalf without any positive result. As of March 2001, their whereabouts remain unknown.
Muslim Amishev and Rustam Amishev (detained at home in Grozny on October 5, 2000)
On October 5, 2000 at around 5:00 p.m., Russian-speaking security forces wearing masks and flak jackets and armed with submachine guns burst into the home of Zara Amisheva in the Berezka district of Grozny. Amisheva saw her eldest son, Muslim (born in 1974) tied up and dragged out into the street.59 Witnesses told Amisheva that her youngest son, Rustam, who lived elsewhere in the building, was taken from his apartment covered in blood immediately after Muslim was detained. When she asked where her sons were being taken, the masked men said, "be quiet or we'll kill you."60 She then saw two APCs and two Ural cars drive away. She believes the "disappearances" may be linked to Muslim's employment with the security detail of Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov during the interwar period.
Amisheva began a determined search to find her sons. She informed local police on the day of the incident, and contacted military commanders' offices in the Staropromyslovskii, Zavodskoi, October, and Lenin districts of Grozny. Each military commander's office denied that its forces had detained her sons or even that they carried out operations after dark. Amisheva wrote to the office of Vladimir Kalamanov, and to the then-mayor of Grozny Beslan Gantamirov, without success. After contacting the military procuracy she was advised that that they had initiated a criminal investigation.61 She also began to search the prisons. An intermediary gave her apparently false information that her sons were held at the Khankala military base, and leads that they might be in detention in Tangi-Chu or Mozdok also proved impossible to confirm. Despite her efforts, and the criminal investigation, she has no information as to the current whereabouts of her sons.
Said-Ali Musaev and Kharon Musaev (detained in Grozny on September 18, 2000)
Said-Ali Musaev (born in 1973), and his brother, Kharon Musaev (born in 1976), were taken into custody from Kharon Musaev's flat in Grozny in Vostochnaya Street on the afternoon of September 18, 2000, together with five other men.62 The brothers were members of the Chechen police force. Their mother, Berlant Musaeva, was in the neighborhood on the day her sons were detained. She told Human Rights Watch that Russian security forces came in two armored personnel carriers (APCs) and took away four men, including her eldest son Said-Ali, at around 3:30 p.m.63 Only a day later did she realize that Kharon had also been detained. Musaeva then began to search for her sons without success. The Chechnya republic procuracy advised Musaeva that there was insufficient evidence to prove that her sons had been kidnapped and declined to investigate.64
Aslanbek Edilgeriev, Khasan Khazhaev, Isa Dilaev, Musa Deliev, Aslanbek Abdurakhmanov, Aslan Khadizov, Sherip Magomadov, Sultan Isaev, Uvais Iliasov, Aslan Khasaev, and Abdurakhman Lorsanov (detained in Alkhan-Kala during a sweep operation, April 29, 2001; body of Lorsanov discovered May 15, 2001)
On April 28 and 29, 2001, Russian troops conducted a sweep operation in Alkhan-Kala. According to a letter from the head of the administration of Alkhan-Kala, during the operation six helicopters hovered over the village and numerous APCs blocked its entry and exit ways.66 Both villagers and Russian news media reported gun battles between Chechen rebels and federal forces.67 On April 29, the troops detained eleven men, who subsequently "disappeared."
Human Rights Watch interviewed the relatives of three of these men. Khamila Isaeva, herself not a witness, said her thirty-nine-year-old husband, Sultan Isaev, and a neighbor, Sherip Magomadov, were taking a bath in the courtyard of Magomadov's home, when two APCs entered Zheleznodorozhnaia Street, apparently in hot pursuit of a man running in front of them.68 According to a neighbor, this man ran into the courtyard of the Magomadov family, the APCs stopped, and more than a dozen soldiers jumped out and started shooting. Isaeva told Human Rights Watch the running man was Aslan Khasaev, and said he was carrying a weapon.
A neighbor saw soldiers enter the bathhouse in the Magomadov's courtyard and drag the two naked men out. Another neighbor told Isaeva that she saw the soldiers loading three men-they apparently captured Aslan Khasaev along with Isaev and Magomadov-into the APC and then drive off.69
Mariat Khasaeva, Aslan Khasaev's mother, was not in Alkhan-Kala at the time her son was detained. She later learned from relatives that her son had been staying at his uncle's place in Zheleznodorozhnaia Street and that he was detained together with Isaev and Magomadov.70
A third witness, a brother of Aslanbek Edilgeriev, told Human Rights Watch he was in Alkhan-Kala at the time of the sweep but was hiding when the soldiers came to Aslanbek Sheripov Street on April 29. Female relatives later informed him that the soldiers had taken away his brother and three neighbors: Musa Deliev, Aslanbek Abdurakhmanov, and Aslan Khadizov. When the women protested the detentions, the soldiers had apparently opened fire on the crowd and wounded the witness's sister in the foot.71
The remaining four men were detained under unknown circumstances. That same day, relatives of the eleven men went to the office of the local military commander, who said his troops had not been allowed to participate in the sweep and that he did not know where the detainees had been taken. Later, so-called "intermediaries" informed the relatives that the eleven men had been taken to Khankala military base. One intermediary said he could arrange the release of the detainees for U.S.$1,000 per person. However, when the relatives had gathered the money, the deal fell through after the intermediary was himself arrested.72
On May 15, 2001, federal troops conducted another sweep operation in Alkhan-Kala and closed off all entry roads to the village. Soldiers stopped Khamila Isaeva, on her way back from Ingushetia, at the bridge of the Sunzha River. As she and several other women waited for the sweep to end, the soldiers said they had discovered a corpse across the bridge and told them to recover it. Isaeva and another woman, whose son had also "disappeared," crossed the bridge and saw a headless corpse missing a leg. Later that day, the head of the local administration with some of the relatives of the "disappeared" went to see the corpse, and Lorsanov's mother identified her son.
Relatives of the other "disappeared" men continued their search both collectively and individually. Human Rights Watch has numerous letters on file from several of the relatives of the "disappeared" men to procuracy and other officials in which they requested assistance finding their family members.
As a result, the Chechnya republic procuracy opened a criminal investigation on June 23, 2001.73 However, as of February 2002, little progress appeared to have been made in the investigation despite the fact that villagers submitted to officials a list of numbers marked on the APCs used in the sweep operation.74 According to the relatives, several officials even denied any special operation was conducted in Alkhan-Kala in late April 2001.
Olkhazur Dagaev (detained near Khankala military base, December 22, 2001)
On December 22, 2001, the Starye Atagi head of administration contacted thirty-one-year-old Olkhazur Dagaev with the request to retrieve from the military base at Khankala the corpse of a young man, "A. A." (not the man's real name). Relatives of the man apparently had paid an FSB official for the body but were, according to the head of administration, unable to collect it themselves without accompaniment. Dagaev drove to the military base that day but did not return.
The next morning, Imran Dagaev, Olkhazur's father, and the head of administration drove to the home of A. A.'s family.75 There, they learned that Olkhazur Dagaev had never arrived at their home either. The family also said that A.A.'s father and cousin had traveled to the military base the previous day and not returned. According to Dagaev, the two families then went to the military base together. Several young boys, who were selling cigarettes and sunflower seeds to the soldiers, told them that they had seen several men fitting the description of Olkhazur Dagaev and the others waiting at the entrance to the military base. At one point, soldiers drove up to the men, loaded them onto their truck and took them into the military base. The relatives of the other men then contacted the FSB official whom they had paid for A. A.'s corpse. This official claimed he did not know anything about the fate of the three men. According to Dagaev, the head of administration, who was allowed to enter the military base, saw Olkhazur Dagaev's car on the base. However, he was unable to establish the whereabouts of the men. Dagaev subsequently filed a complaint with the military procuracy.
Several days later, police officials told Dagaev that his son's car had been found in a ditch in the October district of Grozny. Dagaev told Human Rights Watch the car had been stripped of everything of value.
On January 6, 2002, the local head of administration received word of the discovery of several bodies in a forest not far from the Khankala military base. Local police in Grozny had found several bodies with execution-style wounds dumped in a car, identified as those of Olkhazur Dagaev and the other men detained with him. Imran Dagaev told Human Rights Watch that he had seen his son's body, and that his son had been shot through the head and had an eye missing. He also believed his son had been beaten with a hard, blunt object as he had numerous bruises on his body but no other open wounds.
Human Rights Watch has no information on whether the procuracy has opened a criminal investigation into the death of Olkhazur Dagaev and the other men. When Dagaev collected his son's body, officials were making video and photo footage of the bodies. No forensic examination of Dagaev's body was conducted.
Mair-Ali Shavanov and Lema Shavanov (detained at home in Starye Atagi, February 18, 2001)
Early in the morning of February 18, 2001, thirty-five-year-old Mair-Ali and his twenty-year-old brother, Lema and a neighbor drove in two cars from their home in Starye Atagi toward Grozny. At around 7:00 a.m., about ten kilometers away from the Chechen capital, federal soldiers in three APCs stopped the cars and detained the two brothers. The neighbor, who was not detained, immediately went back to Starye Atagi to inform the Shavanov family. He told Birlant Shavanova, Mair-Ali and Lema's mother, that the soldiers had blindfolded the brothers, loaded them into the APCs, and drove away towards Grozny.76
Immediately after learning what had happened, Shavanova's husband and third son drove to Grozny hoping to catch up with the military convoy. They went to all detention centers and checkpoints in Grozny but officials told them the same everywhere: Mair-Ali and Lema were not there. Finally, at a checkpoint near 3rd Sovkhoz, officials confirmed that a convoy matching the neighbors' description had passed through and had proceeded toward Khankala military base. The Shavanovs drove to the military base where they were once again told the brothers were not there. The next day, Shavanova went to the military base herself. Officials denied her sons were at the base, although she said one soldier at the main entry point confidentially told her that the convoy had come through.
On the third day, an intermediary approached Shavanova at the entrance to the military base. He said her sons were held at the base and promised to arrange for their release the next day for a U.S.$6,000 fee. When Shavanova told him she did not have that kind of money and said the maximum she would be able to gather was U.S.$1,000, the intermediary told her he would see what he could do and that she was to come back the next day. Shavanova came to the military base daily over the next four days, but the intermediary did not appear. On the fifth day, she saw the man walking by but evidently not looking for her. She stopped him to find out what had happened. The intermediary said her sons were no longer at the base and that he did not know where they were. Shavanova has received no further information on the whereabouts or fate of her sons.
Shavanova filed appeals with dozens of officials, both locally and in Grozny, Gudermes, and Znamenskoe, but to no avail. She received a total of twelve letters from various procuracies.77 Not one of these letters contains any information on whether the civilian or military procuracy have opened a criminal investigation into the "disappearance" of the two men or any other information on the merits of the case. Rather, the letters illustrate the refusal of the procuracy to take responsibility for the case and conduct an investigation on the merits:
· Shavanova submitted her first complaint to the military procuracy at the Khankala military base immediately after her sons' detention. The military procuracy at Khankala forwarded it to the military procuracy in Shali, which forwarded it to the civilian procuracy of Chechnya, claiming the involvement of military servicemen in the detention was not proven. The civilian procuracy forwarded it to the Grozny district procuracy. As of February 2002, the latter procuracy had not responded to the complaint;
In December 2001, after months of trying, Shavanova finally managed to see Vsevolod Chernov, the Chechnya republic procurator. He summoned the procurator of the Grozny district and asked him whether an investigation into the "disappearance" had been opened. The procurator answered in the affirmative but provided no details on progress made in the investigation. Following this meeting, Shavanova wrote a letter to the Grozny district procuracy requesting information on when the investigation was opened and what investigative steps were taken in the last four months. As of February 2002, Shavanova had not received a response.
Idris Sangariev and Said-Ibragim Sangariev (detained at home in Starye Atagi, February 12, 2001)
On February 12, 2001 at around 6:00 a.m., a large group of armed men in uniform, some in masks, broke down the gate to the Sangariev family's courtyard on 49 Shosseinaia Street in Starye Atagi. Zulai Sangarieva, herself not an eyewitness, told Human Rights Watch the men entered the building in which her mother was sleeping and conducted a search.78 They then proceeded to the building where the men were sleeping, took Sangarieva's twenty-three-year-old son Idris and her twenty-two-year-old nephew Said-Ibragim from their beds, and took them away. Around the corner, they loaded the two men onto a military vehicle. The men also took away Idris Sangariev's car. That same night, the soldiers also detained an elderly man, whose name Zulai Sangarieva did not disclose, in the same village.
That same morning, Sangarieva contacted the local head of administration, who, through his own channels, determined the Sangarievs had been taken to the military base at Khankala. Three days later, the elderly man was released. Fearful to talk about his experiences in detention, the man did tell Sangarieva that he and the Sangarievs were held in a large tent, blindfolded, and that they regularly heard helicopters taking off and landing. Twice the soldiers removed the blindfolds and allowed them to saw wood "to get warm." The detainees were not allowed to speak but the elderly man recognized Said-Ibragim Sangariev. The elderly man told Sangarieva that he and the others were beaten but did not provide any details. On the third day, the soldiers dumped the elderly man near a quarry outside Argun.
On February 16, an intermediary approached the Sangarievs saying he knew the whereabouts of the two men and demanded U.S.$10,000 for their release. Over the course of a month, the Sangarievs collected money and tried to negotiate a lower ransom. However, the captors of the two men reportedly refused to release them for the U.S. $4,000 the Sangarievs had managed to gather, and broke off all contact.
When the negotiations failed, relatives contacted the local procuracy. Sangarieva told Human Rights Watch that she has filed complaints with the Grozny district procuracy on a monthly basis. As a result, the procuracy opened a criminal investigation but, as of February 2002, there was no evidence that any progress had been made in establishing the whereabouts and fate of Idris and Said-Ibragim Sangariev.79
Zelimkhan Umkhanov and Apti Isigov (detained in Sernovodsk during sweep operation, July 2, 2001)
At about 12:00 noon on July 2, an APC stopped near Apti Isigov's house on Pervomaiskaia Street. Several soldiers entered the yard where Apti Isigov and his cousin, Rustam Isigov, had already prepared their internal passports for an identity check. According to Rustam Isigov and one other eyewitness, the soldiers took their passports without looking at them, and ordered the two men into the APC.81 The soldiers drove them to the temporary military base, picking up more men along the way.
At the temporary base, the soldiers brought the detainees to the basement of a destroyed building and ordered them to kneel. According to Rustam Isigov, about five minutes later an officer approached Apti Isigov and took him away.82 Isigov's relatives later learned from other detainees that the officer put Apti Isigov back into an APC. These men, who were detained later that afternoon, told the relatives Apti Isigov was in the APC when they were put in the vehicle.83
At about 4:00 p.m., soldiers detained Zelimkhan Umkhanov and his brother, Jabrail, close to their home on Kutalova Street.84 According to Jabrail Umkhanov, the soldiers separated the two men at that time, putting Zelimkhan Umkhanov into an APC. After the sweep operation, Taisa Isaeva, Zelimkhan Umkhanov's wife, learned from released detainees that Apti Isigov was already in that APC.
Following the detentions, Apti Isigov's mother and Zelimkhan Umkhanov's wife went to the temporary base.85 They stayed outside the base until after midnight, trying to secure the release of their relatives. The soldiers released most detainees, including Rustam Isigov and Jabrail Umkhanov, over the course of that evening but Apti Isigov and Zelimkhan Umkhanov were not among those released. The remaining detainees-according to the relatives, a bus full of people-were transported to Achkhoi-Martan.
The next morning, the women went to the temporary police precinct in Achkhoi-Martan. Police officials there showed them a list of approximately forty names of detainees that included Zelimkhan Umkhanov and Apti Isigov. However, when the next day the officials released Sernovodsk detainees, neither Isigov nor Umkhanov was among them. Moreover, the released detainees told the women that they had not seen Isigov and Umkhanov at the police precinct. The Achkhoi-Martan procurator later told the relatives that Isigov and Umkhanov had not been there.86
Relatives have searched for Isigov and Umkhanov, but to no avail. They have contacted and petitioned numerous officials, including the local head of administration, the police, the local procuracy, the Chechnya republic procuracy, the Procuracy General of the Russian Federation, and the office of Vladimir Kalamanov.
The procuracy has opened a criminal investigation. Relatives reported to Human Rights Watch that they repeatedly told the case investigators that they could identify the security forces who detained Isigov and Umkhanov.87 However, investigators have taken no steps to create composite sketches of the suspects, or to identify suspects with the help of photo books of soldiers who participated in the sweep operation. Nor have any efforts apparently been made to obtain the military plan for the Sernovodsk sweep operation, would presumably identify the units responsible for operations on the streets where Isigov and Umkhanov were detained, and would significantly aid in pinpointing which might have been involved in the "disappearance" of these two men.
As of this writing, the relatives of Apti Isigov and Zelimkhan Umkhanov have no information on their fate or whereabouts
Musa Yunusov, Lom-Ali Yunusov, Shamil Dzhemaldaev, Aslan Taramov, Vakha Tukaev, Muslim Khamiev (detained in Alkhan-Yurt and Gekhi in late November and early December 2001, bodies discovered, December 12, 2001)
The assassination of General Geidar Gajiev, the military commander for the Urus-Martan district, and two other soldiers on November 29, 2001 by a female suicide bomber prompted a wave of reprisals by Russian security forces against civilians in the region.89 On November 30, soldiers had detained Shamil Dzhemaldaev (born 1983) and Aslan Taramov in Alkhan-Yurt and Muslim Khamiev in Gekhi. On December 5, soldiers detained Vakha Tukaev in Gekhi-Chu. In the early hours of December 9, federal forces entered the village of Alkhan-Yurt, looted and destroyed two houses with explosives, set fire to a third, and detained Musa Yunusov (born 1948) and his nephew, Lom-Ali Yunusov (born 1982). The bodies of the six men were found in a forest near Grozny on December 12, together with the body of a man identified only as Ruslan.90
The "disappearances" of Muslim Khamiev, Vakha Tukaev, Shamil Dzhemaldaev and Aslan Taramov were documented by Memorial. Soldiers came to Khamiev's home in Gekhi on the morning after the attack. They conducted a search of the home and took Khamiev away. Officials later denied they had detained Khamiev. That same day, soldiers detained several people in Alkhan-Yurt, including Shamil Dzhemaldaev and Aslan Taramov. Officials refused to acknowledge the detention. Early in the morning on December 5, soldiers detained Vakha Tukaev at his home in Gekhi-Chu. Officials also refused to acknowledge his detention.91
Human Rights Watch interviewed two relatives of the Yunusovs, "Mokhadyr M." and "Abubakar A." (not their real names). Both live near to Lom-Ali Yunusov's house. According to Mokhadyr M., he was awakened at around 3:00 a.m. and saw armed men wearing masks running away from Lom-Ali Yunusov's house.92 Three or four minutes later there was a loud explosion, which he later discovered was at the house belonging to the Khazuev family (at 7 Gagarin Street), followed by a second explosion almost immediately, which turned out to be at Lom-Ali Yunusov's house. Mokhadyr M. saw several vehicles, including a Tabletka station wagon with the number 590, and an Ural truck.
Abubukar A., who saw Lom-Ali Yunusov placed into an Ural truck by around twenty security personnel, confirmed Mokhadyr M.'s chronology. Neither witnessed the detention of Musa Yunusov, who lived on the opposite side of the river, but Abubukar A. learned from Musa Yunusov's family that security forces had burst into the house at around the same time, tied up the women and children, stolen their jewelry and other property, and then forced everyone outside before setting fire to the house and taking Musa Yunusov away.93
At daybreak the men began an extensive search for their missing relatives, contacting the local administration and traveling to Grozny to petition the procurator of the Republic of Chechnya and the office of Vladimir Kalamanov. Letters were sent to both the civilian and military procuracies, to Vladimir Kalamanov, and to the Federal Security Service. They also spoke to the press in Grozny.
On December 12, a cowherd discovered two bodies in woodland near Chernorechie (approximately ten kilometers from Alkhan-Yurt). Seven bodies were discovered when the chief of police in Zavodskoi district visited and took photographs at the site later the same day with a procuracy official. Relatives in Alkhan-Kala were not informed until December 14, 2001. The Chechnya republic procuracy opened an investigation.
Mokhadyr M. saw the bodies of Musa and Lom-Ali Yunusov, and Shamil Dzhamaldaev on December 14, 2001. Later the same day, he described their condition to Human Rights Watch:
Islam Deniev, Said-Akhmed Saaev, and Khizir Akhmadov (detained on road from Alkhan-Yurt to Grozny, November 25, 2000)
On November 25, 2000, Islam Deniev (born 1966), Said-Akhmed Saaev, and Khizir Akhmadov left for Grozny by car but never arrived. Deniev's sister, Aminat Denieva, learned several days later that the three men had been detained at around 2:00 p.m., when Khizir's white Toyota Landcruiser was stopped by security forces with a tank, several APCs, and other vehicles.95
Deniev's relatives then began to search for him. They received word that he might be in Khankala, but upon visiting the military base were told that he was not there. Together with the relatives of the two other men, visits were made to detention facilities throughout Chechnya, including in Chernokozovo, Grozny, Urus-Martan, Tangi-Chu, Kizliar, and Gudermes. Denieva told Human Rights Watch that her husband's relatives "appealed to everyone" and had also met with what she described as a "commission" that had traveled from Moscow and included military commander General Ivan Babichev.96 The men's whereabouts remain unknown.
Adam Sagaev (detained at home in Gekhi, December 14, 2001)
Adam Sagaev was detained in his home by masked men at 2:00 a.m. on December 14, 2001. Relatives living nearby were awakened by noise coming from the Sagaev household. A cousin, "Osman O." (not the man's real name), went immediately to the Sagaev's courtyard, where two armed men prevented him from going inside; he saw Adam Sagaev's father, two brothers and sister, in the courtyard. Adam Sagaev was then taken out of the house and put into the back of a UAZ jeep. According to Osman O., the armed men identified themselves as part of the Urus-Martan military commander's office and said they had proof that Sagaev was a rebel fighter.97 Sagaev's family deny this, noting that he was ill with tuberculosis at the time of his "disappearance," although they admit that he participated in the 1994-1996 war.
Despite being warned that he faced arrest if he went there, Osman O. went to the Urus-Martan military commander's office in the morning to inquire about Sagaev's whereabouts, but was unable to speak to anyone.98 The following day relatives were then approached by a Chechen intermediary who offered to obtain Sagaev's release for a payment of U.S. $200 or a submachine gun. The intermediary evidently knew a great deal about Sagaev's family despite the fact that Osman O. had never seen him before. Adam's relatives made inquiries with the Urus-Martan temporary police precinct. Officials told them that Sagaev was not in their custody and offered to assist in locating him. Adam Sagaev's whereabouts remain unknown.
Adam Makharbiev (detained at checkpoint outside Gekhi, March 24, 2001)
On the afternoon of March 24, 2001, Adam Makharbiev was detained while driving home from Grozny via Urus-Martan with his cousin Lema Makharbiev and another cousin. At the time of his "disappearance," twenty-eight-year old Makharbiev had recently found work with the Grozny District Department of Internal Affairs. His car was stopped at around 5:00 p.m. at a checkpoint located just outside Gekhi and near to the Makharbiev family home.99 At the time, the Yarslavl OMON unit was based at the checkpoint. Relatives went by car to the checkpoint as soon they heard what had happened. When they arrived at the checkpoint, the three men were nowhere to be seen, but their Zhiguli Shesterka car was parked nearby, together with various military vehicles, including a Ural truck and a Tabletka.100 While the relatives were present, all the vehicles were driven away. They later learned from Adam Makharbiev's two cousins that the vehicles had gone to Urus-Martan military commander's office.
Adam Makharbiev was not released. Both of Makharbiev's cousins were later released-the first after two days, and the second, three days later-and a week later, the Zhiguli car was returned to the family. The day after the three men were detained, a relative spoke to the head of administration in Urus-Martan who reportedly told her: "Yes, they brought them here. Two were transferred to a temporary holding place but one of them is not there."101 Makharbiev's cousins were unable to shed much light on his fate since they had been hooded with sacks and beaten during their detention, but Lema Makharbiev told relatives that he had heard Adam's voice inside the military commander's office.102 His family was unable to find any witnesses who had seen Adam Makharbiev leaving the military commander's office.
Makharbiev's relatives petitioned assistant procurator Dima Gorbantsov, to commence an investigation.103 Although an investigation was apparently opened, relatives never received a written confirmation, and the results were limited to an official response that Adam Makharbiev was not being held at the Urus-Martan military commander's office. Relatives also petitioned the military procuracy in Khankala and the Urus-Martan civilian procuracy, and received a notice requesting Lema Makharbiev to give evidence as a witness. Procuracy officials were unwilling to provide any guarantees of safety for Lema Makharbiev, and relatives are afraid that he will be detained and "disappeared" if he gives evidence. Adam Makharbiev's whereabouts remain unknown.
Anzor Ismailov (detained at home in Goity, Urus-Martan district, November 4, 2001)
Anzor Ismailov was detained at his home on November 4, 2001 at approximately 5:30 a.m. His father, Sultan Ismailov, told Human Rights Watch that the family was awakened by five masked men armed with submachine guns.104 The men told Anzor in Russian to get dressed and to bring his passport. The rest of family was told to lie on the floor with their hands behind their heads. Anzor was taken away in one of several white UAZ vehicles. When Sultan Ismailov went to the nearby checkpoint to make inquiries, soldiers at the checkpoint confirmed that they had seen the vehicles and indicated that the vehicles had radioed ahead with the message that they were from the Federal Security Service (FSB) and should be allowed to pass.
Anzor Ismailov's family immediately began to search for him, visiting Urus-Martan, the military base at Khankala, the detention center in Chernokozovo, and procuracy offices, and writing to the Urus-Martan temporary police precinct, the procurator-general, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs.105 A criminal investigation was opened by procuracy officials, but Ismailov's family still has no information as to his whereabouts.
Musa Tashaev (detained at home in Tangi-Chu, Urus-Martan district, November 20, 2000)
Musa Tashaev, a car mechanic, "disappeared" after being detained by approximately sixteen armed and masked men in uniform on November 20, 2000. Tashaev's wife, who witnessed the event, told his mother, Zeinap Batalova, that the men burst into the family home in Tangi-Chu at 4:00 a.m., demanded Tashaev's passport, and having confirmed that he was Musa Tashaev, took him away in two UAZ jeeps and a Ural vehicle.106
Tashaev's mother and wife began searching the same day, visiting the district administration and military commander's offices in Urus-Martan. In a frequently repeated pattern, the military commander denied that Tashaev was in custody. Relatives also petitioned the procuracy officials and the temporary police precinct without success. Zeinap Batalova told Human Rights Watch that on November 26 relatives were approached informally by a man who claimed to be a representative of the since-deceased Urus-Martan military commander Gen. Geidar Gajiev, who said that Musa Tashaev was in custody, was being well-treated, and would be released within two or three days.107 The representative also offered to pass on to Tashaev any warm clothing the family wished to provide, which they duly gave him. The following day relatives were given word that the clothing had not reached Tashaev and that he had been transferred to Khankala.
Despite the efforts of relatives and the local procuracy, Tashaev's family was unable either to gain access to Khankala or to confirm that Tashaev was being held there. Inquiries at the Chernokozovo prison proved equally fruitless. Zeinap Batalova said that the family has sent petitions everywhere, including to Vladimir Kalamanov, to the Chechnya republic provisional administration, to the minister of internal affairs, to the Chechnya republic procurator, and to the military procuracy.108 An investigation was eventually started by procuracy officials.109
Iman Masaev (detained at Urus-Martan market, February 13, 2001)
On February 13, 2001 at around 1:00 p.m., Iman Masaev (born 1975) was detained and "disappeared" from a café while on a break from his job at a butcher's shop in the Urus-Martan market. When his aunt, Malika Masaeva, arrived at the market half an hour later, she was told by witnesses that armed men in masks and camouflage uniform had gone first into the butcher's, apparently looking for Masaev, before entering the café and detaining him.110 The security personnel placed Masaev and three other men into two UAZ vehicles and a Tabletka, and reportedly drove them to the nearby military commander's office. Relatives of the four men, including Malika Masaeva, walked to the military commander's office. There the deputy military commander told them that the men were being questioned and that the relatives should go home and wait. During the course of the afternoon, the other three men were released but by the time of the curfew at 7:00 p.m., Masaev was still in detention. The deputy military commander assured Masaeva and her mother-in-law that he would be released the next morning.
The following morning Malika Masaeva and Iman's mother went to the military commander's office, expecting Masaev to be released. Instead the deputy commander told her that Masaev had been transferred to another location during the night and that he was being held by another branch of the Russian security services, which he refused to identify. As soon as Masaev "disappeared," his relatives began to search for him. Malika Masaeva explained, "we applied to everybody, we even wrote letters to the State Duma, we wrote a lot of letters but with no result."111 Relatives went to Gudermes and Khankala, and spoke to procuracy officials, who opened a criminal investigation, listing Iman Masaev as a "missing person." Relatives quizzed the three men who had been detained at the same time, but learned that they had been blindfolded during their time in custody and could provide no details. Masaev's relatives have no information as to his whereabouts.
Aset Yakhiaeva and Milana Betilgerieva (detained in Serzhen-Yurt, November 7, 2001)
Before daybreak on November 7, at least five armed men in camouflage uniforms entered a house where a number of women were staying, including forty-five-year-old Aset Yakhiaeva; her niece, twenty-one-year-old Milana Betilgerieva; and five other women, at least three of whom were related to Yakhiaeva and Betilgerieva. The uniformed men took Yakhiaeva and Betilgerieva.112
On November 8, Milana's mother, Mariam Kadyrova, learned from the other women who had been present that her daughter had been detained. The witnesses told Mrs. Kadyrova that four of the men had camouflage paint on their faces and the fifth wore a mask.113 As soon as the men entered the house, the four men with painted faces shined flashlights in the women's faces and made obscene remarks. The man in the mask stood on the sidelines, and told the other men to leave the women alone. The intruders reportedly demanded gold and money but were not interested in checking documents. Aset Yakhiaeva and Milana Betilgerieva were then taken away.
Although witnesses were unable to describe any of the vehicles involved the operation, a sweep operation involving large numbers of Russian military personnel and vehicles had been carried out in Serzhen-Yurt on the same day.114 There may also have been exchanges of fire between Russian forces and Chechen rebels.
Relatives immediately petitioned the military commander in Shali, who denied any knowledge of the women's whereabouts but promised to investigate. Two young men from Serzhen-Yurt who were detained and later released on the same day told relatives they had seen two women while they were in detention but could not identify where they were being detained. Relatives also petitioned procuracy officials in Shali, as well as police, and visited the military commander's office in Avtury, without success.115 As of December 2001, the whereabouts of Yakhiaeva and Betilgerieva remain unknown.
Beslan Saidaev and Saparali Bedigov (detained at home in Serzhen-Yurt, July 14, 2001)
In the early morning of July 14, at around 3:00 a.m., six armed and masked soldiers broke into the home of fifty-five-year-old Liliya Saidaeva on 101 Sheripov Street in Serzhen-Yurt. Saidaeva told Human Rights Watch that the men, who she said were Ministry of Internal Affairs troops of the DON-2 unit, located between Shali and Serzhen-Yurt, dragged her, her daughter, and her son, twenty-three-year-old Beslan Saidaev, from their beds and took them out of the house.116 The soldiers did not allow Saidaeva to take her two-year-old grandchild with her, threatening to shoot the child if she insisted. Outside, there were about twenty more masked soldiers. The men took the two women to a neighboring building and forced them into a basement. Saidaeva was able to see the troops tie Beslan Saidaev's hands and put him on the ground. The soldiers then searched the house, taking valuables including a VCR. They finally took Beslan Saidaev away on foot. Saidaev had worked at the district court in Shali since January 2001 as a court bailiff.117
At around the same time, a group of about thirty armed and masked men charged into the Bedigov home, also on Sheripov Street, and dragged six family members out of their beds. Saparali Bedigov's wife, Birlant Baimuradova, told Human Rights Watch the men, who spoke unaccented Russian, locked her and three other women in the kitchen while putting hoods over her husband and son's heads and taking them out into the courtyard. Later, Baimuradova learned the soldiers also beat her son and husband in the courtyard.118 The men then searched the house and stripped it of valuables, taking a VCR, videocassettes, jewelry, and clothing. After throwing Baimuradova's son in the basement, the armed men left, taking her husband with them.119
Baimuradova and Saidaeva have been searching for their relatives ever since. Both women appealed to the military commander in Shali, local police officials, various procuracy offices, Vladimir Kalamanov's office, and others. Saidaeva told Human Rights Watch her son's employer had also made repeated inquiries. However, officials maintain neither of the relatives' names are on any detention records. The Shali district procuracy opened criminal investigations into both "disappearances."120 Investigators questioned Saidaeva, Baimuradova, and relatives who had been at home on the night of July 14. But as of December 2001, these investigations had not produced any results and neither Saidaeva nor Baimuradova had any information whatsoever on their relatives' whereabouts and fate.
Mairbek Alkhanov (detained at home in Serzhen-Yurt, June 24, 2001)
Masked men in camouflage uniforms entered the Alkhanov family compound at 8:00 a.m. on June 24, 2001 and detained two brothers, Magomed Alkhanov (born 1964) and Mairbek Alkhanov (born 1978). Their mother, Khadizhat Alkhanova, witnessed their detention. She told Human Rights Watch that a masked man had first come into the courtyard, demanding to see everyone's documents.121 Other men then entered the courtyard and began an extensive and destructive search of the property, lasting approximately forty minutes. Mairbek and Magomed Alkhanov were put into an APC and blindfolded. The APC, whose registration number had been obscured with mud, then drove away.
Later the same morning, Magomed Alkhanov had his blindfold removed, was fined ten rubles, and was then released on the outskirts of the village. Alkhanova later learned from another woman from the village that she had seen a prisoner being transferred in the afternoon from an APC into a UAZ with tinted windows. Since the two brothers were the only two villagers detained on June 24, and since Magomed had already been released, Khadizhat believes that the person put into the UAZ was her son Mairbek.
The day of Mairbek Alkhanov's detention, Alkhanova and Mairbek's wife walked to Shali to try and determine his whereabouts. Alkhanova was able to contact the Shali deputy military commander, Khavazh Ashkabov, who promised to look into the matter.122 Since then relatives have written to the Shali district civilian procuracy and to the military procuracy, and contacted the temporary police department and petitioned Vladimir Kalamanov, all without success. As of July 5, 2001, Mairbek Alkhanov's whereabouts were unknown.
Sharani Askharov and Abubukar Saidulaev (detained at home in Serzhen-Yurt, May 18, 2001)
In the pre-dawn hours of May 18, 2001, soldiers detained nine men in Serzhen-Yurt. The body of one was found the next day; four were released, three of whom had been tortured. Three others remain "disappeared," including Sharani Askharov and Abubakar Saidulaev.
At around 4:00 a.m. on May 18, Larisa Askharova was sleeping at home on 106 Sheripova Street when she heard someone breaking down her front door.123 As she got up, the door gave way and a group of armed men in masks and camouflage uniforms entered. The soldiers held Askharova against a wall with an automatic weapon pointed at her, grabbed her forty-six-year-old husband Sharani, hooded him, and took him outside. Askharova was not allowed to leave her house. The soldiers then went next door, where Askharov's brother Yunus lived, and detained him as well. From the same courtyard, the soldiers also detained Aslan Askharov, a nephew. Larisa Askharova told Human Rights Watch Aslan Askharov was wounded when the soldiers detained him but did not specify when and how.
Later that night, on a different street, the soldiers detained thirty-five-year-old Abubakar Saidulaev and his younger brother, thirty-year-old Magomed. Abubakar's wife told their sister, Liza Saidulaeva, who lives nearby, that masked soldiers broke down the door and dragged Saidulaev from his bed where he was sleeping with his wife and children.124 Before that, the soldiers had already pulled Magomed Saidulaev from his bed and taken him to an APC.
According to Askharova and Saidulaeva, the soldiers also detained four other men that night: a father and two sons from the "Israilov" family (not the family's real name) and "Dzhabrail Dzhabrailov" (not the man's real name). All detainees, most of them hooded, were loaded into APCs and driven away toward Shali.
Later the same day, villagers discovered five of the men who had been released, as well as the dead body of Aslan Askharov just outside the village. Yunus Askharov and Magomed Saidulaev were among them and had clearly been tortured. According to his sister, Magomed Saidulaev had injuries later diagnosed as "cranium cerebral trauma," concussion, damage to the backbone in two places, a displaced left kidney and broken ribs. "When I saw my brother, I didn't recognize him...," she said, adding that "my brother is still in a poor state of health. He can't stand up normally and he can't walk."125 Larisa Askharova said her brother-in-law had several broken ribs, a concussion, and was missing three front teeth.126 Liza Saidulaeva said Dzhabrail Dzhabrailov, who had been released, had also had teeth pulled out and was tortured with electric shock. His head was swollen from beatings.127
After his release, Magomed Saidulaev told his sister that he saw his brother Abubukar sitting inside an APC after he was forced to get in.128 It was the last time he saw Abubukar, as he was hooded shortly after. Yunus Askharov told his brother's wife that although soldiers had pulled a T-shirt over his head, he noticed he was put in the same APC as his brother Sharani. 129 The soldiers hooded him as well shortly thereafter.
Both men told their relatives that the soldiers drove them around in the APCs for several hours, unloading them from time to time for interrogations and severe beatings. Magomed Saidulaev told his sister that he managed to see through a slit in the hood that the APC went first to a location between Novye Atagi and Shali with a helicopter landing area and then to a second location somewhere between Serzhen-Yurt and Shali where he and others were taken out and beaten. Finally, the men told their relatives, they were unloaded again and told to lie still in a field until the APCs had driven off. The younger Israilov son was released the following day.
Relatives immediately began to search for those who had not been released. The road to Shali was blocked until 12:00 noon on May 18, but as soon as they were allowed to pass, relatives went to the military commander in Shali but were unable to speak to him. The following day, the military commander denied any knowledge of the men's whereabouts and said his troops had not detained them. Intermediaries also approached the Askharov and Saidulaev families but no information came to light. Larisa Askharova filed complaints with numerous officials, including the Chechnya republic procurator, the military procurator at the Khankala military base, and Russia's procurator-general. The Saidulaev family eventually hired a lawyer to help bring criminal proceedings.
On October 15, 2001, the Shali district procuracy opened a criminal investigation into Sharani Askharov's "disappearance."130 It was unclear whether this investigation also concerned Abubakar Saidulaev's "disappearance," the torture and ill-treatment of the other men, and the killing of Aslan Askharov. As of February 2002, the investigation had produced no tangible results. Both Sharani Askharov and Abubakar Saidulaev remained "disappeared."
The village of Tsotsin-Yurt, a center of oil production in Chechnya, was the scene of frequent operations by Russian security forces during 2001, including large-scale sweep operations in July, October, and December, which resulted in detentions and several "disappearances."
Alkhazur Saidtselimov (detained in Tsotsin-Yurt during a sweep operation, December 31, 2001)
Alkhazur Saidtselimov was detained on December 31, 2001 in Tsotsin Yurt with B.B., a distant relative. Saidtselimov's brother, Abuzar, learned from B.B., who was later released, that on 6:00 p.m. that day, the two men were walking towards B.B.'s house on Shkolnaia Street when they were detained.132 Both men were reportedly taken to a car maintenance facility, which was used as a detention area for scores of men during the sweep. When B.B. was released on January 1, 2002, Saidtselimov was still in custody. On January 7, 2002 pieces of Alkhazur's mutilated body were found in a wood on the outskirts of the village. After the body was buried, Saidtselimov's relatives filed a case with the Kurchaloi district procuracy about the killing, but the authorities denied he was ever detained.
Mukhadi Khamzatov and Aslanbek Dzhabaev (detained in Tsotsin-Yurt during a sweep operation, September 15-16, 2001).
Twenty-two men and two women were detained during a September 15-16 sweep operation in Tsotsin-Yurt. Among them were Mukhadi Khamzatov (born 1971) and Aslanbek Dzhabaev (born 1980), who subsequently "disappeared."
Mukhadi's mother, Zulai Khamzatova, described how Russian security forces burst into their house at around 6:30 a.m. and told all the men to go outside, before searching the house.133 Khamzatova said that the troops, who numbered around twenty, detained Mukhadi together with her two other sons, Musa (born 1973) and Israil (born 1977), and put them into a truck with bars on the windows.
A relative of Aslanbek Dzhabaev, "Nura Nuralieva" (not her real name), gave a similar account. She told Human Rights Watch that on September 15 at around 6:00 a.m. some sixty soldiers had arrived in the village in eight or so vehicles, including APCs, tanks, and Ural trucks, and began to search houses.134 After entering the Jazaev household they checked Aslanbek Dzhabaev's documents, and those of his father, and detained Aslanbek in the back of an Ural truck.
Two days later twenty-two of the twenty-four detained villagers were released, including Musa and Israil Khamzatov. Neither Mukhadi Khamzatov nor Aslanbek Dzhabaev was among them. Musa and Israil Khamzatov told their mother that the security forces had checked the villagers' names by computer while they were in detention. Both men said they saw Mukhadi Khamzatov in custody on September 16, but neither saw him afterwards.
Once the other villagers had been released, both of the missing men's relatives began to search for them. Mukhadi Khamzatov's relatives made frequent visits to enquire about his fate, and made visits to a detention center in Shali and the Khankala military base without success. "Nura Nuralieva" said Aslanbek Dzhabaev's relatives had appealed to the local administration, the military commander's office, and the procuracy, and was reportedly told by a procuracy official to go to Khankala to appeal to Unit 102-202-a unit she believes was among the forces that carried out the operation. Mrs. Khamaztova described the emotional effect of her son's disappearance: "This is breaking my heart. I don't know whether I will live to see him again."135
Vakhid Saidtselimov (detained in Tsotin-Yurt during sweep operation, May 7, 2001)
Vakhid Saidtselimov (born 1982) was detained on May 7, 2001 during a sweep operation in Tsotsin-Yurt. According to his elder brother, Abuzar Saidtselimov, Russian security forces entered the village between 11:00 am and 12:00 noon and detained Saidtselimov in the courtyard of the family home, placed a shirt over his head, and led him into a nearby APC.136 Four other men from the village were detained at the same time and were badly beaten before being released several hours later at a gas station on the outskirts of the village. The four men were blindfolded throughout their ordeal and were unable to tell whether Vakhid had been held together with them or separately. Security forces prevented inhabitants from leaving the village for the remainder of the day.
The following day, Abuzar Saidtselimov went to Kurchaloi to search for his brother, checking lists of prisoners to see if he could learn where he was being held, but was unable to find him.137 He appealed to the Kurchaloi deputy commander, who denied that Vakhid Saidtselimov was in their custody and said he had no information about his whereabouts. Relatives also contacted procuracy officials in Shali and Grozny and the office of Vladimir Kalamanov, and visited the military base at Khankala. Despite these efforts family received no answers as to Saidtselimov's whereabouts.
Khasin Vakhaev (detained on road from Tsotsin-Yurt to Kurchaloi, April 12, 2001)
On April 12, 2001, Khasin Vakhaev (born 1976) was detained en route from Tsotsin-Yurt for Kurchaloi, the district center. At about 2:00 p.m., security forces near a checkpoint, who had two APCs, detained Vakhaev together with another young man, and put a t-shirt over his head. The second detainee was later released and then informed Vakhaev's family that he was in custody. Vakhaev's uncle, "Zelimkhan Z." (not the man's real name), told Human Rights Watch that he traveled to the checkpoint with Vakhaev's father and several female relatives to find out what had happened. At the checkpoint, the relatives were told Vakhaev had been taken to the Kurchaloi military commander's office, where the 33rd Brigade was reportedly based.138 The military commander's office denied that Vakhaev was in their custody.
Vakhaev's older brother, Khusein, a police officer in Lenin district of Grozny, returned home as soon he heard of his brother's detention. When the family heard that Vakhaev might be at the military base in Khankala, Khusein Vakhaev began to make daily visits there. On April 18, Khusein Vakhaev failed to return, and the family learned from a neighbor four days later that his body had been found in a garage in the Mikroraion district of Grozny. The circumstances of his death are unknown.
Relatives continued to search for information. They petitioned Akhmad Kadyrov, the head of the Chechnya republic administration, the Kurchaloi district military procurator, civilian procuracy officials at the federation, Chechnya, and Kurchaloi level, and the office of Vladimir Kalamanov, as well as contacting several members of the Russian Duma.139 The Argun district procuracy opened a criminal investigation into Khasin's "disappearance" but, as of December 2001, the family had received no information about Khasin's fate or Khusein's death.140
Said-Khusein Shaipov and Ruslan Musaev (detained on road between Novye Atagi and Chiri-Yurt, January 7, 2002, bodies discovered January 10, 2002)
On January 7, 2002 at around 1:00 p.m., thirty-five-year-old Said-Khusein Shaipov and his forty-one-year-old neighbor, Ruslan Musaev, left their homes on Lenin Street in Novye Atagi to travel to Chiri-Yurt. Said-Magomed Shaipov, Said-Khusein's brother, told Human Rights Watch that in the early evening a rumor spread around Novye Atagi that Russian troops had detained two men from Novye Atagi near Chiri-Yurt.141 The rumor held that one of the men was redheaded, which is somewhat uncommon in Chechnya. The men were apparently detained in relation to the death of several servicemen detailed to the local military commander's office earlier that day when their car drove over a mine.
When Said-Khusein Shaipov, who had red hair, and Ruslan Musaev did not come home that evening, relatives became concerned and traveled to Chiri-Yurt to seek information on their whereabouts. The relatives quickly learned that the men had not arrived at their destination and started contacting officials. The military commander of Chiri-Yurt told them his troops had not detained the two men. In Shali, the military commander's office confirmed that a day earlier two men had been detained, one of whom did not have a local propiska (residence permit). Said-Magomed Shaipov told Human Rights Watch that Ruslan Musaev was formally registered in the city of Penza and was visiting his mother in Novye Atagi. The military commander's office, however, would not provide the names of the detainees or any information on their current whereabouts. An official hinted that relatives should look in Chiri-Yurt for the two men.
On January 10, the Chiri-Yurt head of the administration informed the relatives that there were two bodies lying in the snow just outside the village's military commander's office-a location off-limits to civilians. With the help of the Chechen neighborhood inspector, the relatives were eventually able to visit the site and, in the presence of two soldiers, found two mutilated bodies. Both heads and several limbs were missing as the bodies had apparently been blown up. The relatives identified Shaipov and Musaev by their clothing.
On January 14, relatives of the two men filed a complaint with the Shali district procuracy.142 As of February 8, when a Human Rights Watch researcher interviewed Said-Magomed Shaipov, the latter did not know whether the procuracy had opened a criminal investigation. Crucial evidence has already been lost, as the police official present when the bodies were found failed to order a forensic examination before burial.
Magomed Dokuev (detained at home in Novye Atagi, February 14, 2001)
Magomed Dokuev (born 1977) "disappeared" after he and his father were detained at their home in Novye Atagi on February 14, 2001. Dokuev's wife, who witnessed the detention, told his mother, Zina Dokueva, that masked men arrived at the house at 6:00 a.m. in three APCs and several other vehicles.143 The leader of the masked men asked specifically for Magomed Dokuev before taking him into custody together with Vakhid Dokuev, his fifty-five-year old father. The men searched the house and took some jewelry but did not check documents.
Vakhid Dokuev was released the following day. He told his wife that he had heard his son, Magomed, being beaten and questioned about his links to Chechen rebels. He said that he himself had been blindfolded and tied up and then severely beaten in the chest, arms, and legs. When Human Rights Watch spoke to Zina Dokueva five months later, she said that he was still suffering pain in one of his arms and one of his legs.
Following her husband's release, Dokueva and other relatives began to search for Magomed. Dokueva told Human Rights Watch that the Novye Atagi head of administration accompanied her to Shali, where she gave a statement to the military commander's office.144 Officials there told her they did not know where her son was. Relatives spoke to a lawyer in Shali and petitioned the office of Vladimir Kalamanov. Relatives also petitioned the procuracy officials in Shali, which opened an investigation. Dokueva explained that despite the family's efforts, "we have no information" about Magomed's Dokuev's whereabouts.145
Magomed Emi Alsultanov and Khas-Magomed Esuev (detained in Alleroi during sweep operation, August 17 and 20, 2001)
After Russian forces began a ten-day sweep operation on August 16, 2001 in the village of Alleroi in eastern Chechnya, active fighting broke out between federal forces and Chechen rebel forces. According to Memorial, federal troops committed serious abuses: they fired indiscriminately, killing at least one non-combatant; they tortured some of the dozens of men and several women they had detained, using electric shock and beatings; they beat one man to death; and they willfully destroyed civilian property and torched several houses. Memorial also reported the deaths of six rebel fighters. 146
On August 17, troops repeatedly came to the house of the Kilsa Yunusova on Kavkazskaia Street and checked her documents and those of her husband and five of their children without incident.147 At around 4:00 p.m. that day, soldiers once again entered Kavkazskaia Street and detained five men, including Yunusova's twenty-two-year-old son, Magomed-Emi Alsultanov, at a neighbor's house.
According to Yunusova, the soldiers took the five men to a military base near a large hill outside Tsentoroi where they put them in a pit with other detainees from Alleroi. After their release, the four men who were detained with Alsultanov told Yunusova that some time later soldiers took Alsultanov and several other men out of the pit. At the time, the men thought Alsultanov was about to be released.
The soldiers, however, took Alsultanov and the other men to the military commander's office in Kurchaloi.148 Yunusova later spoke to two men who had been detained in the Kurchaloi military commander's office with her son. They told her that the soldiers had forced the detainees, among whom were Magomed-Emi Alsultanov and a distant relative, to stand in a corridor for hours. At approximately 2:00 a.m., the soldiers separated the two men from Alsultanov and his relative, after which all trace of Magomed-Emi Alsultanov and his distant relative is lost.
Kilsa Yunusova has since tried to find her son, but officials deny ever having detained him. Officials at the military base near Tsentoroi told Yunusova that her son was not at the base but was taken to Kurchaloi, and officials at the military commander's office in Kurchaloi deny Magomed-Emi Alsultanov was ever held there. According to Yunusova, the procuracy opened a criminal investigation into the kidnapping of Alsultanov on November 19, 2001.
On August 20, soldiers came to the house of Khas-Magomed Esuev on Pushkin Street during an internal passport check. They detained thirty-two-year-old Esuev and several other neighborhood men. Petimat Taramova, Esuev's sister, later learned from the other men, who were released, that her brother was initially held together with them but that when the soldiers took those men to the military base outside Tsentoroi, Esuev was taken elsewhere.149 His wife and three small children have not received any information on his whereabouts since.
In a letter to Human Rights Watch dated December 17, 2001, Elizaveta Baimutgireeva, Esuev's wife, wrote that she has appealed to numerous officials, including the military commander of the Kurchaloi district, the procurator in Kurchaloi, and an unspecified military procurator.150 However, she has not received any information on the whereabouts of her husband in response.
Tadzhi Talkhadov (detained in Alleroi during a sweep operation, January 21, 2001)
From January 21 to 23, federal troops conducted a sweep operation in Alleroi. Early in the morning of January 21, troops in APCs entered the village and closed all ways in and out. The troops then started conducting document checks throughout the village.
At around lunchtime, Zulai Edilova walked to the home of her elderly parents. When she arrived, she noticed APCs and soldiers standing close to the house. Her seventy-two-year-old father, Taji Talkhadov, was standing in the courtyard, wondering aloud why the soldiers had not checked his and his wife's documents.151 At approximately 3:00 p.m., the village Imam called the residents to prayer and Talkhadov went inside the house. He had just started to pray when, according to Edilova, an APC drove up to their gate and about twenty soldiers in masks ran through the courtyard into the house. Two large soldiers went into Talkhadov's room and brought him outside. When Edilova's mother walked up to see what was happening, one of the soldiers hit her in the shoulder with his rifle butt. The soldiers quickly loaded Talkhadov onto the APC and drove away.
Talkhadov's relatives immediately ran after the APC. They were stopped at the edge of the village by soldiers who claimed no APC had passed by them. The next day, large numbers of villagers went out to protest the detention of the elderly Talkhadov, but soldiers stopped them at the edge of the village. The next day, after the sweep operation had ended, villagers walked to the military base located on a hill between Alleroi and Tsenteroi. They stood at the entry point to the base and demanded an explanation from the soldiers. After some time, a high-ranking military official came to see the villagers and promised Talkhadov would be released shortly. This, however, did not happen. Nor did it happen on January 24, despite renewed promises by the soldiers. On January 25, a high-ranking military official told the crowd that Talkhadov had been transferred to the military base at Khankala.
For the next six weeks, Talkhadov's relatives sought his release through Akhmed Kadyrov, the head of the Chechnya republic administration. Kadyrov, who is from the neighboring village of Tsenteroi, repeatedly promised that Talkhadov was about to be released, but after six weeks told relatives that he could do no more for them and advised them to take the issue to court.
In early February 2001, Talkhadov's relatives filed complaints with the Chechnya republic procuracy and the military commander of the Kurchaloi district, and hired a lawyer to follow up and file further complaints. Relatives also pursued an informal search effort but to no avail. As of December 2001, they still had no information on the whereabouts and fate of Tadzhi Talkhadov.
Aslanbek Khamidov (detained in Alleroi during sweep operation, October 25, 2000)
On October 25, 2000, thirty-five-year-old Aslanbek Khamidov was recovering at his home from shrapnel injuries when federal troops conducted a sweep operation in Alleroi.152 According to Malika Turlueva, Khamidov's wife, soldiers entered their house on 11 Tolstoi Street at around 10:00 a.m. and ordered all men to undress to the waist.153 When they saw Khamidov's fresh scars, the soldiers immediately detained him. They dismissed Turlueva's protests that she had medical documentation on her husband's condition, saying that anyone can obtain such documents.
That same day, federal troops detained another nine men from Alleroi. These men told Turlueva that the soldiers took all ten of them to the military base on a hill outside Tsenteroi but that they did not know what happened to Khamidov as they were all hooded after they were detained. Five of the men were released that same night. Three men spent one night in a pit at the base, were transferred to the military base at Khankala the next day, and released a week later. One man was apparently flown to Khankala military base on October 25 and also released about a week later.
Turlueva immediately appealed for help to Akhmad Kadyrov, the head of the Chechnya republic administration, who was also a resident of neighboring Tsenteroi. She told Human Rights Watch she met with him several times but he told her he could not help. Turlueva also repeatedly wrote complaints to the Chechnya republic procuracy, the Shali military procuracy, the military commander of the Kurchaloi district, and other officials. In response, Turlueva received five letters from the Chechnya republic procuracy informing her that her complaints, and those of others on her behalf, were forwarded to the Argun district for investigation.154 As of December 2001, that procuracy had sent Turlueva no information on progress made in the investigation.
Saidmagomed Mutsukaev (detained at home in Shali, September 9, 2001)
Saidmagomed Mutsukaev, a farm worker, was detained at his home in Shali in the early hours of September 9, 2001. According to his mother, Zura Mutsukaeva, who witnessed the raid, as many as thirty masked men in uniform armed with automatic weapons burst into the family home at 1:30 a.m.155 The men, who spoke Russian, demanded to see everyone's internal passports and began to search the house. They woke Saidmagomed Mutsukaev, took him from his bed and led him into the courtyard, where he was forced to kneel while one of the masked men checked his passport. Mutsukaeva then saw the person checking the passports take them to a white Volga vehicle parked outside the house and show them to the occupants inside. Mutsukaev's passport was retained and the others were thrown onto the staircase. The men allowed Mutsukaev to put on a sweater and shoes before being taken away in one of several Tabletka cars.
Later that morning, relatives went to the local police to find out whether Mutsukaev had been brought there. Officers confirmed that he was in custody, and accepted food parcels for him from relatives on September 9 and 10. An unnamed man from the village who was detained at the police station on September 9 confirmed that Mutsukaev had been held in the station in an adjacent cell (which he described as the fifth cell). Relatives also spoke to persons detained in the fifth cell on the night of September 11 who said that at 11:00 p.m. masked men had taken Mutsukaev out of the cell. He has not been seen since.
The police in Shali told Zura Mutsukaeva that Saidmagomed was released without charge at 11:00 p.m. on September 11. Relatives have searched for him extensively, petitioning the head of the local administration in Shali and the military commander's office and visiting the Khankala military base. Mutsukaeva also contacted procuracy officials, and wrote to Vladimir Kalamanov. According to Mutsukaeva, criminal proceeding have since been commenced against the head of the Shali temporary police precinct of the criminal investigation division and his deputy, but both individuals have already been transferred back to their home areas.156 Her son's whereabouts remain unknown.
Im-Ali Saidakhmetov (detained at home in Mesker-Yurt, July 17, 2001)
On July 17, 2001, at around 9:00 a.m., eight APCs and a military truck drove up to the Saidakhmetov family compound on Lenin Street in Mesker-Yurt. A large number of armed soldiers in masks entered the courtyard. Without showing identification, they entered the house where Im-Ali Saidakhmetov was still sleeping and took him from his bed. At the time, Lom-Ali Saidakhmetov, Im-Ali's father, was in the kitchen, located in a separate building. He told Human Rights Watch the soldiers came in and took him into the room where he saw his son standing against the wall with his hands over his head.157 Saidakhmetov heard one of the soldiers, who all spoke unaccented Russian, tell another that Im-Ali was the one they were looking for. The soldiers then locked Lom-Ali Saidakhmetov, his wife and daughters in a room and dragged Im-Ali Saidakhmetov to an APC. For the next two and a half hours, the soldiers searched the courtyard and its three houses with dogs and mine detectors. After the search, the soldiers let Lom-Ali Saidakhmetov and the women out of the room and left. As they were leaving, Saidakhmetov asked the soldiers whom he should see about the detention of his son. The soldiers recommended he speak to the Shali district military commander.
That same day, Saidakhmetov unsuccessfully tried to see the military commander. The next day, the deputy commander informed Saidakhmetov that a criminal case had been opened against his son a month earlier, and that Im-Ali Saidakhmetov had been taken to the Khankala military base. Officials at the military base denied that he was being held there. His father also searched for him at the local police station and in a detention center in Shali, without success.
After some time, Saidakhmetov found a man, himself a former detainee, who said he saw Im-Ali Saidakhmetov in a pit at a military base between Serzhen-Yurt and Shali on July 20, 2001. DON-2 Ministry of Internal Affairs troops are reportedly located at that base.158 The man told Saidakhmetov he had spoken to Im-Ali, and that soldiers had tortured Im-Ali with electric shock, trying to force him to confess to two murders. Having learned his son's place of detention, Saidakhmetov approached the commander of the DON-2 troops, who acknowledged holding Im-Ali, said he was in fine condition, and would be released. However, several months later, Im-Ali Saidakhmetov had still not been released.
Saidakhmetov also approached various procuracies and Vladimir Kalamanov's office. None of these institutions was able to find a trace of Im-Ali Saidakhmetov in any of the official detention records. On August 24, 2001, the Shali district procuracy informed Saidakhmetov that it had opened a criminal investigation.159 Following that letter, Saidakhmetov did not receive any information on progress made in the investigation. As of December 2001, Im-Ali Saidakhmetov remained "disappeared."
Umar Bekaev, "Emin Eminov," and "Elshan Eminov" (detained at home in Avtury, June 7, 2001)
On June 7, 2001 at around 2:00 a.m., a group of armed and masked men in camouflage entered the home of the Bekaev family on Shalinskaia Street in Avtury. The men first walked into the room where the women were sleeping. Fifty-four-year-old Banata Bekaeva told Human Rights Watch the men immediately threatened to kill her and her daughter if she screamed or tried to get up.160 The men then entered the room where sixty-year-old Umar Bekaev, Banata's husband, was sleeping. They put a hood over his head and tied his hands behind his back. The armed men led Bekaev out of the house and told him to say goodbye to his wife and daughter as they would "not see each other again." After conducting a search of the house, during which Bekaeva and her daughter were locked in the basement, the men left with Bekaev. That same night, the men detained four other men from Avtury. Two of these men, sixty-year-old "Emin Eminov" (not his real name) and his twenty-one-year-old son "Elshan," "disappeared."
Four days later, some local women were working in a field not far from Avtury and came across two of the men who were detained June 7. Soldiers had apparently dumped the men there a little earlier. The women told Bekaeva that the two men, who are brothers, were naked and that they had marks of severe beating; one had a black eye and broken arm. Bekaeva did not learn anything about the fate of her husband or the two "disappeared" men; the released brothers were too frightened to talk to Bekaeva and left Chechnya shortly thereafter for an unknown destination.
On June 7, 2001, Bekaeva approached the local military commander who said his troops had not detained her husband. She filed complaints with the civilian procuracy offices in Shali and Grozny, the military procuracy in Shali, and with Vladimir Kalamanov's office that same day. Later, she also sent complaints to the Chechnya republic procuracy and the Procuracy General.
On August 12, 2001, the Shali district procuracy informed Bekaeva that it had opened a criminal investigation into her husband's "disappearance." However, there was no indication that the procuracy was actually conducting an investigation. As of December 2001, investigators had yet to question Bekaeva and her daughter, and the procuracy had not provided Bekaeva with any information on progress made in the investigation. As of December 2001, Emin and Alshan Eminov also remained "disappeared."
"Disappearances" From Argun District161
Vakhid Daudov, Zaur Khizriev, Suliman Nushaev, Sharpuddin Madaev, and Yakub Dzhabrailov (detained during a sweep operation in Argun, December 15, 2001)
On December 15 at around midday, Vakhid Daudov, the head of security for the Grozny airport, and his wife and two young children were stopped in their car in the center of town by FSB forces, who said he could not proceed, as the road was blocked off. While Daudov was turning around the car, a Mitsubishi Pajero, armed forces in an Ural truck drove up and asked Daudov to show his documents.163 Daudov refused, telling the soldiers he had just been checked by the soldiers at the checkpoint. Daudov's wife was then told to get out of their car, and three soldiers got in. Vakhid Daudov then drove off under escort towards Grozny. He has not been seen since. Relatives contacted the military commander's office in Argun and wrote the procuracy officials, but the searches failed to provide any information as to his whereabouts.164 As of mid-March 2002, Daudov remains "disappeared." 165
Human Rights Watch also interviewed relatives of four other men who were detained during the sweep operation and subsequently "disappeared." Russian forces detained twenty-one-year-old Zaur Khizriev, eighteen-year-old Suliman Nushaev, Sharpuddin Madaev (born 1965), and Yakub Dzhabrailov (born 1981) at their respective homes on December 15. Relatives told Human Rights Watch of their unsuccessful attempts to learn about the whereabouts and fate of their relatives from Russian officials.166
Tamerlan Chalaev (detained at home in Argun, October 12, 2001)
Tamerlan Chalaev was detained at his home in Argun on the morning of October 12, 2001. According to a relative, at 7:30 a.m. armed men in camouflage uniforms arrived at the family residence in two APCs.167 They appeared to be looking specifically for Chalaev, took him from his bed, handcuffed him in front of his wife and children, and led him away. His passport was left untouched. The APCs left in the direction of Khankala and Grozny.
Following his detention, Chalaev's family began to search for him. They petitioned the local administration and the military commander's office in Argun, who advised them to look at the military base in Khankala.168 Relatives visited Khankala but were told that Chalaev was not being held at the base. A criminal investigation was opened by the Argun procuracy, but nothing has yet come to light. Tamerlan Chalaev's whereabouts remain unknown.
Chalaev's disappearance was not an isolated incident. Two other Argun residents were reportedly detained and "disappeared" around the same time, on October 9, 2001 and October 13, respectively.169 Neither man has been seen since.
Magomed Dikiev (detained at home in Argun, April 10, 2001)
At approximately 5:40 a.m. on April 10, about fifteen armed men in masks burst into the home of the Dikiev family on Lenin Street in Argun. Having lifted fifty-seven-year-old Magomed Dikiev off his bed and onto the floor, the men conducted a search of the house, taking valuables in the process. A relative, who requested anonymity, told Human Rights Watch the masked men appeared to have come specifically for Dikiev.170 She overheard one of the men asking another, in unaccented Russian, whether the detainee was indeed Dikiev. Following an affirmative answer, the man hooded Dikiev and drove him away toward the Khankala military base. A month earlier, Magomed Dikiev's son Said-Magomed had "disappeared" after Russian forces detained him during a sweep operation (see above).
Dikiev's relatives have since unsuccessfully searched for Magomed, filing complaints with the civilian and military procuracies and Vladimir Kalamanov's office.171 According to the relative, the Argun procuracy opened a criminal investigation into the "disappearance" but, as of December 2001, the whereabouts and fate of Magomed Dikiev remained unknown.
Shamil Akhmadov, Said-Magomed Dikiev, Ali Labazanov, Ali Eldiev, Ruslan Mezhidov, Ruslan Viskhadzhiev, Abdul-Vakhab Yashurkaev, Muslim Batsiev (detained in Argun during sweep operation, March 11-14, 2001; the bodies of Batsiev and Khutiev discovered on March 19, 2001, the body of Abdul-Vakhad Yashurkaev on March 1, 2002)
Between March 10 and 14, 2001, Russian forces conducted a major sweep operation in Argun, detaining as many as 170 people. The majority were released, but at least eleven of the detainees "disappeared." The corpses of four of the men were discovered a week later on the perimeter of the Khankala military base. One more corpse was found on March 1, 2002.
Human Rights Watch interviewed relatives of four of the "disappeared" men:
· Said-Magomed Dikiev was detained on March 11. According to a relative, who asked to remain anonymous, soldiers burst into Dikiev's apartment on Gagarin Street at around 8:30 a.m., took him from his bed, and drove him away in an APC.172
· Abdul-Vakhab Yashurkaev was also detained at about 11:00 a.m. on March 11. According to his wife, Zalpa Yashurkaeva, it was the fourth time in eleven days that security forces had come to her home. Russian forces had burst into the family home at 3:00 a.m. on March 3, 2001, demanding to know where the men of the house were.173 On March 4, forces Yashurkaeva believes belong to military intelligence service (GRU) entered her house at 2:00 a.m., but left after fifteen minutes. The house was raided again on March 8, and on that occasion, Abdul-Vakhab Yashurkaev, who had fought in the first war in Chechnya, was badly beaten but not detained.
· Muslim Batsiev was detained on March 12 at around 5:00 a.m. at the home of his mother, Mariet Batsieva. She told Human Rights Watch that soldiers demanded to see the passports of her son and her visiting brother, Salamu Artsukhaev (born 1964) and then put both men into the back of a truck before driving away.174 Mariet went with other villagers to the military commander's office that afternoon and was able to confirm that her brother was in detention there, but could not obtain information as to the whereabouts of her son. Salamu Artsukhaev was released two days later, but was unable to shed any light on Batsiev's fate, since he had been hooded during his detention. 175
· Soldiers detained twenty-five-year-old Shamil Akhmadov, father of five small children, on March 12. According to his mother, Tamusa Akhmadova, he walked out onto the street at around 4:00 p.m. that day in slippers.176 Shortly afterwards, a military convoy drove by and stopped him, and she saw soldiers throw her son into an APC. She told Human Rights Watch she ran out of her courtyard on Novaia Street to intervene, but the convoy drove away. Akhmadova tried to make out the APC's numbers but they had been smeared with mud. She filed a complaint with the military commander's office that same day. Several soldiers told her Akhmadov was at the office but the military commander later denied he had ever been held there.
After the release of the majority of the villagers, around March 17,177 relatives of the eleven who remained missing began to search for them. Zalpa Yashurkaeva said that she had contacted officials from the military procuracy in Khankala and Shali, the Chechnya republic procuracy and the Argun civilian procuracy and registered a complaint with the office of Vladimir Kalamanov.178 Relatives of Said-Magomed Dikiev filed repeated complaints with officials but to no avail.179 Tamusa Akhmadova contacted the Chechnya republic administration, the civilian and military procuracies but to no avail.180
On March 22, 2001, Mariet Batsieva was shown photographs taken by villagers from Prigorodnoe during the burial of four bodies in the village and confirmed that one of the naked bodies was that of her son. Each of the bodies had bullet wounds to the head and back. Prigorodnoe had already been used on March 10, 2001 as an impromptu reburial site by the Ministry of Emergency Situations for thirty-four unidentified bodies of the fifty-one discovered in a mass grave one kilometer from the Khankala military base.181 The other three bodies were identified as: Aiub Gairbekov, Abdul-Malik Tavzarkhanov, and Ismail Khutiev, all detained during the March 11-14, 2001 sweep operation.182
On March 1, 2002, Zelpa Yashurkaeva identified her husband's remains among bodies found in a mass grave in Argun.185
Supian Adamov and Ruslan Adamov (detained at home in Selmentauzen, July 16, 2001)
At approximately 11:30 p.m. on July 16, 2001, armed men in masks and camouflage uniforms burst into the Adamov home and took twenty-one-year-old Supian Adamov and his brother, eighteen-year-old Ruslan, into custody. Zumani Abdurakhmanova, their mother, told Human Rights Watch that upon entering the room where she and the other women were staying, the armed men shot at the floor close to them and then forced them to lie down on the ground.186 The armed men took away the two brothers from the room where the men generally slept.
Abdurakhmanova has been looking for information on the whereabouts of her sons ever since. At the military bases at Khatuni and Shali, officials told her that her sons were not there. The FSB in Shali denied holding Abdurakhmanova's sons, as did officials of the DON-2 interior troops based between Shali and Serzhen-Yurt. A man who had spent two months in custody at a detention center in Shali told Abdurakhmanova he had seen her son there. When shown a picture of her sons, a Chechen police officer from Shali also said he had seen them in detention but did not know their current whereabouts.
Abdurakhmanova also filed complaints with the Vedeno district procuracy and the procuracy of Chechnya. During a visit to the former, she learned that a criminal investigation had been opened. The Chechnya Republic procuracy merely forwarded the complaints to the Vedeno district procuracy.187 When Human Rights Watch interviewed Abdurakhmanova in December 2001, she had no information on the whereabouts or fate of her sons, or on progress made in the criminal investigation.
Sultan Indarbaev and Maisso Indarbaev (detained at home in Tsa Vedeno, May 14, 2001)
Less than two weeks after the May 3 "disappearances," security forces in APCs entered the Indarbaev family courtyard in Tsa-Vedeno on May 14 at 3:30 a.m. and broke into the houses of Sultan Indarbaev (born 1944) and his cousin Maisso Indarbaev (born 1964). According to Sultan Indarbaev's wife, Zukhra Barzaeva, her husband was awakened by troops wearing camouflage uniforms, asked for his papers, and told to get dressed before being taken away.188 When Barzaeva asked why her husband was being detained there was no response. Maisso Indarbaev's relatives told Barzaeva that he was detained in exactly the same way. Barzaeva contacted the military commander's office in Vedeno, and was told that the May 14 operation had been carried out by the 15th Shalinski Regiment, and that the regiment had traveled to Shali after the two men had been detained. Neither man has been heard from since and their relatives have no information as to their whereabouts.
Razman Kukuev, Khanpash Kukuev and Isa Mikiev (detained in Tsa-Vedeno during a sweep operation, May 3, 2001)
Early on the morning of May 3, 2001, a large contingent of Russian security forces surrounded the village of Tsa-Vedeno. According to a witness, ground troops arrived in APCs, UAZ jeeps, and Ural trucks, and paratroops came by helicopter.189 At least four men from Tsa-Vedeno were detained during the operation. Three of them (forty-eight-year-old Razman Kukuev, thirty-five-year-old Khanpash Kukuev, and forty-eight-year-old Isa Mikiev) were never released. Villagers allege that security forces confiscated identity documents during the operation and stole property, including appliances and clothing.
According to their wives, Razman and Khanpash Kukuev had earlier joined a Russian-organized home guard in nearby Vedeno in exchange for the promise of a monthly income.190 At the time of their "disappearance," Razman Kukuev had left the guard on medical grounds but Khanpash Kukuev remained a member. Isa Mikiev was detained at the same time, together with his sixteen-year-old son, Khalid.191 According to his mother, Khalid Mikiev returned two days later, badly beaten with his documents confiscated, but the whereabouts of his father and the two other men remains unknown.
Relatives of the men began searching as soon as they were permitted to leave the village on May 4. Razman Kukuev's wife, Miriam Atabaeva, told Human Rights Watch that she went to the military commander's office in nearby Vedeno on three consecutive days before the military commander, a colonel whose name she does not know, finally agreed to see her.192 According to Atabaeva, the military commander told her that he knew the whereabouts of her husband and the other men from the village but refused to tell her. She claims the military commander later changed his story, indicating that a search was in fact underway, and after a month said he did not actually know the detainees' whereabouts. Atabaeva then visited detention facilities in Khankala and Shali and appealed to procuracy officials to try and learn her husband's fate.
Osaka Kukueva, the wife of Khanpash Kukuev, gave Human Rights Watch a similar account of visiting the military commander's office in Vedeno, going to Khankala, and petitioning the procuracy, adding that she had spoken to a representative of military commander Gen. Babichev in Khankala and written to Vladimir Kalamanov in order to learn her husband's whereabouts.193 Isa Mikiev's wife, Liuba Nimcheva, accompanied Miriam Atabaeva to Vedeno and Khankala.194 Despite their searches, none of the women know whether their husbands are dead or alive.
34 Human Rights Watch, "The `Dirty War' in Chechnya," March 2001.
35 Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, Political Affairs Committee, "Report: Conflict in the Chechen Republic," Doc. 9319, (January 16, 2002), paragraph 22.
37 Council of Europe, Information Documents, "Supplementary Data and information on the work of the Office of the Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for ensuring Human Rights and Civil Rights and Freedoms in the Chechen Republic," SG/Inf (2001) 41 Addendum II (December 14, 2001). The Council of Europe has since 2000 seconded experts to the Office of the Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation on Human Rights in Chechnya. At of this writing, three experts were serving in the office.
38 Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Annual Report 2001 on OSCE Activities, November 26, 2001: http://www.osce.org/docs/english/misc/anrep01e_activ.htm. Accessed March 15, 2002.
39 Human Rights Watch interview with Sultan Makhmudov, July 2, 2001.
41 Human Rights Watch interview with Khadizhat Kaplanova, Nazran, Ingushetia, December 14, 2001.
42 Both letters are on file with Human Rights Watch.
43 Letter is on file with Human Rights Watch.
44 Human Rights Watch interview with Murdalov's parents, Nazran, Ingushetia, June 30, 2001.
46 Human Rights Watch interview with Rukiyat and Astamir Murdalov, Nazran, Ingushetia, June 30, 2001.
49 Ibid. Memorial described seventeen (rather than twenty-six) bodies at the site, noting that Viktor Kazantsev, plenipotentiary representative for the Southern Federal District of the president of the Russian Federation, reportedly confirmed the presence of seventeen bodies, a statement he later retracted (see, Memorial "Regarding reports on the discovery of 17 dead bodies at the Temporary Department of Internal Affairs (VOVD) in Oktytabrskii, Grozny (April 12, 2001)": www.memo.ru/eng/memhrc/texts/17bodies.shtml, accessed March 2002).
50 Human Rights Watch interview with Talsaidon Musaeva, Nazran, Ingushetia, June 30, 2001.
51 Copies of several complaints on file with Human Rights Watch.
52 In a letter dated July 10, 2001 to the Musaevs, the Grozny city procuracy confirmed a criminal investigation had been opened. A copy of the letter is on file with Human Rights Watch.
53 Human Rights Watch interview with Talsaidon Musaeva, Nazran, Ingushetia, June 30, 2001.
54 Human Rights Watch interview, Nazran, Ingushetia, December 19, 2001. The witness wishes to remain anonymous.
56 Human Rights Watch interview, Nazran, Ingushetia, December 19, 2001. The relative wishes to remain anonymous. The Grozny city procuracy informed Khantiev's relatives of this in a letter dated July 22, 2001. A copy of the letter is on file with Human Rights Watch.
57 Human Rights Watch interview, Nazran, Ingushetia, March 15, 2001. The witness wishes to remain anonymous.
58 Human Rights Watch interview, Nazran, Ingushetia, December 19, 2001. The witness wishes to remain anonymous.
59 Human Rights Watch interview with Zara Amisheva, Nazran, Ingushetia, March 16, 2001.
61 On November 2, 2000, the Grozny city procuracy confirmed a criminal investigation into her sons' "disappearance" had been opened. A copy of this letter is on file with Human Rights Watch.
62 Four of the five were: Zaur Ibragimov (born 1975), Khasan Bataev (born 1979), Magomed Temurkaev (born 1974), and Rizvan Ismailov (born 1974).
63 Human Rights Watch interview with Berlant Musaeva, Nazran, Ingushetia, July 13, 2001.
64 Ibid. Russian law deals with forced disappearances under Article 126 of the criminal code, "kidnapping."
65 For reports of other "disappearances" in Alkhan-Kala, including during the notorious February 2000 raid on the local hospital, see Human Rights Watch, "The "Dirty War" in Chechnya," March 2001.
66 Letter from M. Umazheva, head of administration of Alkhan-Kala, to the commander of the Russian federal forces, dated August 1, 2001. A copy of this letter is on file with Human Rights Watch.
67 Russian state television news bulletin at 4:00 p.m. GMT on May 1, 2001, cited in BBC Monitoring, May 1, 2001.
68 Human Rights Watch interview with Khamila Isaeva, January 11, 2002, Nazran, Ingushetia. NB: Many homes in Chechnya are compounds for extended families, and include several buildings. There is generally a small building containing a kitchen set apart from living quarters. Some homes in Chechnya, as in other parts of Russia, have special bathhouses [banya] in the garden.
70 Human Rights Watch interview with Mariat Khasaeva, Nazran, Ingushetia, July 6, 2001.
71 Human Rights Watch interview with Khasanbek Edilgeriev, Sputnik, Ingushetia, July 3, 2001.
72 Human Rights Watch interview with Khamila Isaeva, Nazran, Ingushetia, January 11, 2002.
73 Letter from L.A. Khasuev in Kalamanov's office to Kh. Isaeva and V. Chernov, procurator of Chechnya, dated December 3, 2001. A letter from an official of the Chechen procuracy to L. Khazhaeva, a relative of Khasan Khazhaev, dated September 4, 2001, states the investigation was opened under case number 19051.
74 Letter from M. Umazheva, head of administration of Alkhan-Kala, to the commander of the Russian federal forces, dated August 1, 2001. A copy of this letter is on file with Human Rights Watch.
75 Human Rights Watch interview with Imran Dagaev, Nazran, Ingushetia, February 8, 2002.
76 Human Rights Watch interview with Birlant Shavanova, Nazran, Ingushetia, December 20, 2001.
77 Copies of these letters are on file with Human Rights Watch.
78 Human Rights Watch interview with Zulai Sangarieva, Nazran, Ingushetia, February 8, 2002. Sangarieva's mother related the details of the raid to her.
79 A letter dated August 31, 2001 from the procuracy of Chechnya to Zulai Sangarieva confirms a criminal investigation into the "disappearances" was opened under case number 19045. A copy of this letter is on file with Human Rights Watch.
80 See: Human Rights Watch, "Swept Under: Torture, Forced Disappearances, and Extrajudicial Killings During Sweep Operations In Chechnya" A Human Rights Watch Report, vol. 14, No. 2 (D) , February 2002.
81 Human Rights Watch interviews with Tsalipat Isigova (Apti Isigov's mother), Nazran, Ingushetia, November 10, 2001 and with Rustam Isigov (Apti Isigov's cousin), Nazran, Ingushetia, November 11, 2001.
82 Human Rights Watch interview with Rustam Isigov, Nazran, Ingushetia, November 11, 2001.
83 Ibid; and Human Rights Watch interview with Taisa Isaeva, Nazran, Ingushetia, November 10, 2001.
84 Ibid; and Human Rights Watch interview with Jabrail Umkhanov, Moscow, November 15, 2001.
85 Human Rights Watch interview with Taisa Isaeva, Nazran, Ingushetia, November 10, 2001; Human Rights Watch interview with Tsalipat Isigova, Nazran, Ingushetia, November 10, 2001.
86 Human Rights Watch interview with Taisa Isaeva, Nazran, Ingushetia, November 10, 2001.
87 Human Rights Watch interview, Nazran, Ingushetia, February 10, 2002.
88 Alkhan-Yurt was the scene of one of the most notorious atrocities against civilians perpetrated by Russian forces in Chechnya. In December 1999, Russian forces went on a rampage, looting and burning dozens of homes and summarily executing at least fourteen civilians. For more information, see Human Rights Watch, "`No Happiness Remains': Civilian Killings, Pillage, and Rape in Alkhan-Yurt, Chechnya" A Human Rights Watch Report, vol. 12, no. 5 (D), April 2000.
89 For background on the November 29 attack and its aftermath, see: Memorial, "Terror with Terror: Conditions in Urus-Martan region after the attempted assassination of the military commander of the region, General G.A. Gajiev (undated)" www.memo.ru/eng/memhrc/texts/terror.shtml (accessed March 2002).
90 Human Rights Watch interviewed a villager from Gekhi after the bodies were found, who said that he had helped to bury a man whose body was found in the forest. He said the man had been a rebel fighter called Ruslan from Gekhi. (Human Rights Watch interview with Valid Ozdamirov, Ingushetia, December 18, 2001).
91 See Memorial, "Terror with Terror."
92 Human Rights Watch interview with Mokhadyr M., Nazran, Ingushetia, December 14, 2001.
93 Human Rights Watch interview with Abubakar A., Nazran, Ingushetia, December 14, 2001.
94 Rights Watch interview with Mokhadyr M., Nazran, Ingushetia, December 14, 2001.
95 Human Rights Watch interview with Aminat Denieva, "Sputnik" refugee camp, Ingushetia, March 7, 2001.
97 Human Rights Watch interview with Osman O., Ingushetia, December 18, 2001.
99 Human Rights Watch interview, Nazran, Ingushetia, July 14, 2001. The interviewee wishes to remain anonymous.
104 Human Rights Watch interview with Sultan Ismailov, December 20, 2001.
106 Human Rights Watch interview with Zeinap Batalova, Nazran, Ingushetia, March 17, 2001.
108 Human Rights Watch interview with Zeinap Batalova, Nazran, Ingushetia, March 17, 2001.
109 To compound the family's grief, Tashaev's younger brother, Anderbek, was shot dead on March 8, 2001 together with another man, Usman (Rustam) Surguev. A witness told relatives that security personnel in soldiers' uniforms carried out the killings, which took place at around midnight at a computer club in Urus-Martan. Human Rights Watch interviews with Zeinap Batalova, Nazran, Ingushetia, March 17 and with Asya Surgueva, Nazran, Ingushetia, July 3, 2001.
110 Human Rights Watch interview with Malika Masaeva, Nazran, Ingushetia, March 17, 2001.
112 The two women's disappearance was also documented by Amnesty International, which describes the case in a January 2002 report. The only difference between the two accounts is the date of detention, which the Amnesty International report gives as November 9 rather than November 7. Amnesty International, Russian Federation: Failure to protect or punish: human rights violations and impunity in Chechnya, January 2002.
113 Human Rights Watch interview with Mariam Kadirova, Ingushetia, December 12, 2001.
114 A description of the case in a November 2001 Council of Europe report on Chechnya states that the lack of evidence that military vehicles were involved suggests that the two women were detained by rebels. As the case follows a clear pattern of forced disappearances in which the perpetrators were clearly federal forces, it is unclear why it is suggested that the lack of further information about the vehicles suggests Chechen involvement. See: Council of Europe, Fifteenth interim report by the Secretary General on the presence of the Council of Europe's experts in the Office of the Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for ensuring Human Rights and Civil Rights and Freedoms in the Chechen Republic [SG/Inf(2001)41], December 12, 2001, paragraph 28.
115 Human Rights Watch interview with Mariam Kadyrova, Ingushetia, December 12, 2001.
116 Human Rights Watch interview with Liliya Saidaeva, Nazran, Ingushetia, December 21, 2001.
117 Human Rights Watch has a copy of a letter signed by the bailiff's office of the Chechen republic confirming he hired B.D. Saidaev on January 5, 2001 to work as a bailiff at the Shali district court.
118 Baimuradova told Human Rights Watch she took her son to the hospital the next morning, where doctors confirmed damage to one of his kidneys and a broken rib. Baimuradova did not provide a copy of the medical examination report.
119 Human Rights Watch interview with Birlant Baimuradova, Nazran, Ingushetia, December 12, 2001.
120 A letter from investigator Aidemirov G.M. of the Shali region procuracy to Liliya Saidaeva, dated October 17, 2001, confirms an investigation was opened under case number 23175. A copy of the letter is on file with Human Rights Watch.
121 Human Rights Watch interview with Khadizhat Alkhanova, Nazran, Ingushetia, July 5, 2001.
122 Human Rights Watch interview with Khadizhat Alkhanova, Nazran, Ingushetia, July 5, 2001.
123 Human Rights Watch interview with Larisa Askharova, Nazran, Ingushetia, February 9, 2002.
124 Human Rights Watch interview with Liza Saidulaeva, Nazran, Ingushetia, July 6, 2001.
126 Human Rights Watch interview with Larisa Askharova, Nazran, Ingushetia, February 9, 2002.
127 Human Rights Watch interview with Liza Saidulaeva, Nazran, Ingushetia, July 6, 2001.
129 Human Rights Watch interview with Larisa Askharova, Nazran, Ingushetia, February 9, 2002.
130 On October 29, 2001, the Shali region procuracy sent Larisa Askharova a letter informing her that the criminal investigation had been opened under number 23261. A copy of this letter is on file with Human Rights Watch.
131 In early March 2002, in a letter addressed to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, the chair of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and to the director of the Moscow office of Human Rights Watch the villagers of Tsotsin-Yurt stated that twenty-nine people from Tsotsin-Yurt had "disappeared" in the custody of Russian forces since the beginning of the armed conflict in 1999. A copy of the letter is on file with Human Rights Watch. Chechen rebels were present in the village during the December operation. For more information see the Memorial website: http://www.memo.ru/eng/memhrc/index.shtml. Accessed March 31, 2002.
132 Human Rights Watch interview with Abuzar Saidtselimov, Nazran, Ingushetia, March 22, 2002.
133 Human Rights Watch interview with Zulai Khamzatova, Nazran, Ingushetia, December 9, 2001.
134 Human Rights Watch interview with Nura Nuralieva, Nazran, Ingushetia, December 9, 2001.
135 Human Rights Watch interview with Zulai Khamzatova, Nazran, Ingushetia, December 9, 2001.
136 Human Rights Watch interview with Abuzar Saidtselimov, Nazran, Ingushetia, July 13, 2001.
138 Human Rights Watch interview with Zelimkhan Z., Nazran, Ingushetia, July 12, 2001.
139 A copy of a letter to the Russian president, several members of the Russian State Duma, the procuracies of Kurchaloi district, Chechnya, and the Russian Federation, and others is on file with Human Rights Watch.
140 In a letter dated August 24, 2001, the procuracy of Chechnya advised the family that a criminal investigation into the "disappearance" had been opened under case number 39043. A copy of this letter is on file with Human Rights Watch.
141 Human Rights Watch interview with Said-Magomed Shaipov, Nazran, Ingushetia, February 8, 2002.
142 A copy of the letter is on file with Human Rights Watch.
143 Human Rights Watch interview with Zina Dokueva, Nazran, Ingushetia, July 5, 2001.
144 Human Rights Watch interview with Zina Dokueva, Nazran, Ingushetia, July 5, 2001.
147 The Yunusovs have seven children, but two of their sons "disappeared" after federal forces detained them in September 2000 in a forest near Alleroi.
148 In total, according to Memorial, fifty-two detainees from Alleroi were taken to a detention center in Kurchaloi.
149 Human Rights Watch interview with Petimat Taramova, Nazran, Ingushetia, December 18, 2001.
150 On file with Human Rights Watch.
151 Human Rights Watch interview with Zulai Edilova, Nazran, Ingushetia, December 18, 2001.
152 On September 22, 2000, Aslanbek Khamidov went to get a beam for a shed at an abandoned farm near Alleroi when an explosive device exploded and shrapnel hit him in the shoulder. Khamidov spent two weeks in a local hospital where doctors removed a piece of shrapnel from his shoulder. Discharge papers from the Kurchaloi district hospital confirm that Aslanbek Khamidov was hospitalized from September 22 to October 2, 2000, and that a piece of shrapnel was removed from his left shoulder in a surgical procedure.
153 Human Rights Watch interview with Malika Turlueva, Nazran, Ingushetia, December 18, 2001.
154 Copies of these letters are on file with Human Rights Watch.
155 Human Rights Watch interview with Zura Mutsukaeva, Nazran, Ingushetia, December 12, 2001.
156 The Shali procuracy informed the family in a letter dated October 4, 2001, that a criminal investigation into Mutsukaev's "disappearance" had been opened under case number 23240. A copy of the letter is on file with Human Rights Watch.
157 Human Rights Watch interview with Lom-Ali Saidakhmetov, Nazran, Ingushetia, December 12, 2001.
158 DON stands for Divisia Osobogo Naznaeveniia (Special Task Division). DON-2 is notorious for abuses during sweep operations. For information on looting perpetrated by DON-2 in Avtury, see Politkovskaia, "Armored Filth."
159 A copy of the letter is on file with Human Rights Watch.
160 Human Rights Watch interview with Banata Bekaeva, Nazran, Ingushetia, December 18, 2001.
161 The heavily contested town of Argun has experienced sustained activity by rebel fighters and frequent sweep operations by Russian security forces.
162 Human Rights Watch interview with Zarina Naibarkhanova, Satsita refugee camp, Sleptsovsk, December 18, 2001; Human Rights Watch interview with "Malika M." and "Aina A." (not their real names), Nazran, Ingushetia, December 17, 2001; Human Rights Watch interview with Markha Dzhabrailova, Nazran, Ingushetia, December 21, 2001; Human Rights Watch interview with "Fatima F." (not her real name), Nazran, Ingushetia, December 20, 2001; Human Rights Watch interview with Zabuirai Khizriev, Moscow, March 14, 2002; Human Rights Watch interview with Tamara Taisumova, Nazran, Ingushetia, March 18, 2002; Human Rights Watch interview with Khava Madaeva, Nazran, Ingushetia, March 19, 2002; and Human Rights Watch interview with Zargan Nushaeva, Nazran, Ingushetia, March 18, 2002.
163 Human Rights Watch interview with Zura Mashtygova Nazran, Ingushetia, December 21, 2001.
164 A copy of a letter dated December 17, 2001 to the procuracy in Argun is on file with Human Rights Watch.
165 On February 11, 2002, Birlant Sadulaeva sent Human Rights Watch a fax confirming her husband was still missing and asking for help in her search.
166 Human Rights Watch interviews, Nazran, Ingushetia, March 19, March 18, 2002.
167 Human Rights Watch interview, Nazran, Ingushetia, December 20, 2001. The interviewee wishes to remain anonymous.
169 Human Rights Watch has not interviewed relatives of these men or witnesses to their detention and therefore cannot verify the circumstances of their "disappearance."
170 Human Rights Watch interview with "Khamsat Vitaeva" (not her real name), Nazran, Ingushetia, December 21, 2001.
171 Copies of several complaints are on file with Human Rights Watch.
172 Human Rights Watch interview with Khamsat Vitaeva, Nazran, Ingushetia, December 21, 2001.
173 Human Rights Watch interview with Zalpa Yashurkaeva, Nazran, Ingushetia, July 14, 2001. Her son, Rustam (born 1971), had already gone missing in November 1999 in unknown circumstances.
174 Human Rights Watch interview with Mariet Batsieva, Nazran, Ingushetia, July 8, 2001.
175 Another son, Ruslam (born in 1980), had been killed in late March, 2001, possibly in combat.
176 Human Rights Watch interview with Tamusa Akhmadova, Nazran, Ingushetia, December 21, 2001.
177 According to Memorial, the majority of the detainees were released soon after the arrival in Argun on March 17 of V. Chernov, the Chechnya republic procurator. See Memorial, "Four inhabitants of Argun are arrested during a `cleansing' operation in the town and are later found dead," March 2001, http://www.memo.ru/eng/memhrc/texts/argun.shtml (accessed March 2002).
178 Human Rights Watch interview with Zalpa Yashurkaeva, Nazran, Ingushetia, July 14, 2001.
179 Copies of several complaints are on file with Human Rights Watch.
180 Human Rights Watch interview with Tamusa Akhmadova, Nazran, Ingushetia, December 21, 2001.
181 See Human Rights Watch, "Burying the Evidence: The Botched Investigation into a Mass Grave in Chechnya," A Human Rights Watch Report, vol. 13, no. 3 (D), May 2001.
182 For more information on the detentions and the discovery of the bodies, see Memorial, "Four inhabitants of Argun are arrested during a cleansing operation in the town and are later found dead," (March 2001) http://www.memo.ru/eng/memhrc/texts/argun.shtml; Memorial, "A second civilian burial site discovered near the military base at Khankala," (undated.) http://www.memo.ru/eng/memhrc/texts/khankala2.shtml. Accessed March 2002.
183 Memorial "A second civilian burial site discovered near the military base at Khankala," (undated). http://www.memo.ru/eng/memhrc/texts/khankala2.shtml. Accessed March 2002.
184 Copy of this letter on file with Human Rights Watch.
186 Human Rights Watch interview with Zumani Abdurakhmanova, Nazran, Ingushetia, December 12, 2001.
187 Copies of two letters from the procuracy of Chechnya to the Vedeno region procuracy are on file with Human Rights Watch.
188 Human Rights Watch interview with Zukhra Barzaeva, Nazran, Ingushetia, July 4, 2001.
189 Human Rights Watch interview with Mariam Atabaeva, Nazran, Ingushetia, July 4, 2001.
190 Human Rights Watch interviews with Mariam Atabaeva and Oksana Kukueva, Nazran, Ingushetia, July 4, 2001.
191 Human Rights Watch interview with Liuba Nimchaeva, Nazran, Ingushetia, July 4, 2001.
192 Human Rights Watch interview with Mariam Atabaeva, Nazran, Ingushetia, July 4, 2001. Atabaev named the deputy military commander in Vedeno as a Chechen called Raibek Tovzaev. Tovzaev was killed in August 2001. See Patrick Tyler, "Key Chechen Who Backed the Russians Dies in Battle," New York Times, August 20, 2001.
193 Human Rights Watch interview with Oksana Kukueva, Nazran, Ingushetia, July 4, 2001.
194 Human Rights Watch interview with Liuba Nimchaeva, Nazran, Ingushetia, July 4, 2001.