VI. Extrajudicial Executions

Memorial estimates that security personnel were responsible for up to 40 killings of civilians in counterinsurgency operations in Ingushetia between January and December 2007.110In this report Human Rights Watch documented eight such cases of unlawful killings by law enforcement officials, and one case of attempted unlawful killing, in Ingushetia in 2007,111 and identified a pattern of extrajudicial executions there. In all but one of those eight cases, security services justified the killing by claiming the victim had been violently resisting arrest. Immediately after the killing, the authorities would bring criminal charges against the deceased of attempting to kill law enforcement agents, membership in an illegal armed group, and illegal weapons possession. The investigation of those charges was then promptly closed in light of the suspect’s death.

Witnesses to the killings to whom Human Rights Watch spoke generally denied government allegations that the victims were armed or used violence. However, most witnesses dare not provide official testimony, fearing repercussions from security services. Human Rights Watch is not in a position to confirm these witness accounts or assess the government’s claims. But in none of these cases did the authorities launch effective investigations into whether security forces’ use of lethal force was justified. Also, Human Rights Watch is not aware of any forensic or ballistic examination that would have substantiated the government’s claims.

Extrajudicial executions constitute a clear violation of the right to life, a fundamental right forming part of Russia’s international human rights obligations. The deprivation of life by state authorities is considered a matter of utmost gravity.112 As a consequence, circumstances in which deprivation of life may be justified must be strictly construed.113  The European Court of Human Rights has consistently held that it will subject deprivations of life to the most careful scrutiny, particularly where deliberate lethal force has been used.114 The force used must be strictly proportionate to the attainment of the legitimate aims listed in article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.115 European Court judgments have stressed that detained individuals are considered to be in a particularly vulnerable position. For this reason, the authorities’ obligation to account for the treatment of a detained person is particularly strict in cases where that individual dies. The burden of proof may in such cases be considered to rest on the authorities to provide a plausible explanation.116 The Court has applied these principles to several cases involving extrajudicial executions in Chechnya, in which it has found a violation of the right to life.117

The government’s failure to investigate extrajudicial killings in Ingushetia is also a violation of its international obligations to investigate suspected killings and to hold those responsible criminally accountable.118 Families of the deceased must be ensured access to effective remedies.119 An investigation will only be considered effective if it is independent and capable of leading to a determination of whether the use of force was or was not justified as well as to the identification and punishment of those responsible.120 The European Court of Human Rights has in a number of cases held Russia responsible for failure to conduct effective investigations into extrajudicial executions in Chechnya.121

Killing of Islam Belokiev

Islam Belokiev and his parents bought and sold spare car parts at a market in Nazran. On August 30, 2007, security forces killed 20-year-old Islam Belokiev at the market. According to witnesses, at around 4 p.m. Belokiev was heading for the market exit when several men in a car parked near the market called out to him. They opened fire as soon as he turned in their direction.

Witnesses saw the wounded Belokiev fall to the ground and then be immediately surrounded by armed plainclothes security personnel, who prevented anyone from approaching the scene.122 Soon other uniformed security personnel in masks, armored vests, and helmets appeared, and were joined by armed servicemen who arrived in an armored personnel carrier. Witnesses report that Belokiev was still alive and moving feebly, but the armed personnel neither gave him medical assistance nor allowed anyone to come to his aid.  By the time medical professionals and officials from the prosecutor’s office were allowed to enter the market, Belokiev had bled to death.

According to one eyewitness, Aslan N. (not his real name) one of the servicemen planted a gun and a grenade on Belokiev.123 Aslan N. recounted for Human Rights Watch the entire incident,124

There were gun shots and everyone ran from all directions to see [what was happening] … Those people were in masks and camouflage. The boy was killed like a quail … He did not die right away. For 40 minutes or so, they [the servicemen] were standing around him, they closed everything off … People were crowding here and they could see this whole picture. We had automatic guns pointed at us. No one could come near. The boy was thrashing about for a while. Everyone was afraid to do anything because of those guns. Someone wanted to take a picture with his cell phone, but one armed man screamed obscenities at him, took the phone away, and broke it

On the following day, August 31, three family-members of ethnic Russian teacher Vera Draganchuk were shot dead in the nearby town of Karabulak (see Chapter IV, above). In comments to the media, Zinaida Tomova, first assistant to the prosecutor of Ingushetia, alleged that Draganchuk’s husband and their two sons were killed in retaliation for the killing of Belokiev. Tomova confirmed that Belokiev “was killed during the operation aimed at his detention…” and that the operation was carried out by staff members of the Anti-Terrorist Center of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and personnel of the FSB branch in Ingushetia. She also asserted that Belokiev opened fire when these servicemen attempted to seize him.125

All of the witnesses to Belokiev’s killing interviewed by Human Rights Watch insist that he was not armed and showed no resistance. Murad C. (not his real name), an acquaintance of Belokiev working at the same market, also claimed that one of the servicemen insisted there were explosives hidden in Belokiev’s stall. However, a colleague of Belokiev immediately opened the stall for the police to examine, and they did not find anything.

Murad C. stressed that Belokiev could not have fired at the attackers: “How could he do any such thing? There were three to four gun shots, and it was evident that one man was shooting from the same weapon. And there was a burst of submachine gun fire. He [Belokiev] definitely did not have a submachine gun!” Murad C. gave a statement with this and other relevant details to the prosecutor’s office.

It is unclear what weight, if any, the prosecutor’s office gave that witness account. It is certain, however, that the circumstances of Islam Belokiev’s killing were not effectively investigated.

Human Rights Watch is not in a position to determine whether Islam Belokiev was armed. Forensic evidence, if collected, could have determined whether, in fact, Belokiev had fired a weapon, but it is unclear whether any effort was made to collect such evidence. At the same time, based on witness accounts, the security services clearly acted with excessive and unlawful force by shooting at Belokiev without appropriate warning and when there was no immediate danger to any other individual.  This was compounded by the actions of the security forces in letting him bleed to death.

Compounding a lack of proactive investigation is an environment in which it is not conducive for witnesses to come forward with evidence. Most of the witnesses to the killing were too frightened to give evidence to the prosecutor’s office. Among those who refrained from testifying was Aslan N., who explained his behavior, and that of many others, in his interview to Human Rights Watch: “Everyone saw this scene. But if I tell about it and then go home, they will take me away in one hour without investigation or trial, and I’ll just disappear. And why would I bring this on myself? I have a family. This is how things stand. Absolute lawlessness.”126

Killing of Apti Dalakov

On September 2, 2007, 22-year-old Apti Dalakov and several friends were walking out of a video games club on Oskanov Street in Karabulak when two Gazel minibuses without license plates stopped next to them. After up to 30 armed servicemen jumped out of the vans and aimed their weapons at them. The young men tried to run away. The servicemen immediately started chasing them.

The incident was witnessed by many bystanders who later told the Dalakovs that Apti Dalakov crossed Jabagiev Street and rushed into the yard of a former kindergarden, called Ryabinka.127 Two of the servicemen caught up with him and started shooting. Dalakov was wounded and fell. One of the servicemen, who was dressed in civilian clothes and masked his face with his own shirt, fired at Dalakov several times and finished him off with a shot to the head before placing a small object in his hand.

Local police and riot police arrived at the scene of the killing, searched the unknown servicemen, identified them as Federal Security Service (FSB) officers, and took them to the Karabulak police department. However, high-level officials of the FSB’s Ingushetia branch arrived shortly thereafter and demanded that police release the servicemen and return their weapons and ammunition, including the shells collected at the site of the crime.

As a riot police officer told Human Rights Watch,128

We were told on the radio that Karabulak was being attacked, and that there was shooting next to the kindergarten, close to School No. 1. When we were approaching, we heard the sounds of automatic gunfire. We got there and saw the bloodied body of a young guy and around 12 armed men standing next to it. Four or five of them were in plainclothes. The others were in masks and camouflage uniforms. Some appeared to be Ingush, some were Russian. There also seemed to be Chechens and Ossetians. We did not know who they were ... The dead guy had no gun or anything. We later discovered that he had a used grenade in his fist, but the locals were saying they saw how that grenade was planted.

So, anyway, we had to seize those armed [individuals]. They resisted, and yelled obscenities, and threatened us, but we were greater in number, so they had to yield in the end. Several of them had FSB IDs. We took them to the police department and then—I was not there at this point—but they were basically rescued by their higher-in-command. And in the end, we are getting blamed for this.129

The Southern Federal District’s prosecutor’s office launched charges of abuse of office against the police who detained the security officials. In addition, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ingushetia was reprimanded by the then-presidential plenipotentiary in the Southern Federal District, Dmitry Kozak, for having interfered with an FSB operation.130  When asked by Human Rights Watch to comment on this situation, Ingushetia’s prosecutor, Yuri Turygin, said that he could not provide any information as the investigation was ongoing.131

As early as September 2, prosecutorial authorities opened a posthumous criminal case against Apti Dalakov for an attempt on the life of law enforcement personnel132 and illegal possession of weapons,133 and then closed the case, as Dalakov was dead. Having received relevant notification from the prosecutor’s office,134 Apti Dalakov’s family members submitted a counter-complaint asking for an effective investigation into the circumstances of his killing to be launched and for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.135 The complaint specifically refers to witnesses who confirmed that Apti Dalakov was unarmed and his actions were nonviolent. However, to this writing, no inquiry into this complaint has been initiated.

Apti Dalakov’s killing was also officially declared to be connected with the murder of Vera Draganchuk’s family (making it apparently a third link in a chain of killing and reprisal killing beginning with Islam Belokiev). On September 3 the FSB’s Ingushetia branch explained to the media, including all-Russian television, that Apti Dalakov and his friend Iles Dolgiev, who was detained by security personnel on the day of Dalakov’s killing, were both “Wahhabis” and active members of “the Karabulak bandit underground.” The FSB claimed the two young men were responsible for the murder of the teacher’s family members, as well as for a range of other grave crimes.136 However, Dolgiev was released from custody and cleared of all allegations,137 providing strong grounds to believe that Dalakov was killed entirely arbitrarily.

Killing of Rakhim Amriev, age 6

The killing that created the greatest resonance in Ingushetia and caused vocal public protests was that of a six-year-old boy named Rakhim Amriev. Security personnel killed him and wounded his mother in the course of an operation allegedly aimed at detaining a distant relative of his parents.

Early in the morning of November 9, 2007, up to 100 military and security personnel arrived in the village of Chemulga, in the south of Ingushetia, in three APCs and numerous other vehicles. They closed off several streets, including the street where the Amriev family lived.

The Amrievs were awoken by the noise at around 6:30 a.m. and heard a command on a loudspeaker: “Women and children, come out!” By the time the four children and their parents approached the door, three armed servicemen broke into their house and immediately opened fire. Rakhim Amriev was instantly killed; his mother, Raisa, was wounded in her arm. The family, including the wounded woman, was then forced to leave the house barefoot and in their nightclothes. The servicemen started shooting and throwing grenades at the empty house.

Ramzan Amriev, Rakhim’s father, gave Human Rights Watch the following account of the events,138

As soon as they [servicemen] broke in, they started shooting sporadically. All hell broke loose … I was trying to cover one of my sons with my right arm, and another one with my left arm. I heard my wife screaming, and then suddenly I saw blood on Rakhim’s forehead. They hit him right in the forehead, and he just died before I noticed.

We were forced to leave the house. The servicemen did not let me take my son’s body. He was left there all alone … For some time, they kept us on the street next to our neighbors’ gates, and then several servicemen took me back to our house. They said, “You only have a second to pick up the boy, you son of a bitch!” So I went, wrapped Rakhim in a blanket, so that the other kids wouldn’t see, and carried him out. They told me to go away, but I still saw how they were throwing grenades at the house. They even drove an APC into the wall.

With Rakhim’s body in his arms, Ramzan Amriev joined his family members and neighbors who were all gathered on a small hill close to the Amrievs’ house. The half-dressed men, women, and children139 were forced to stand outside in the cold for several hours, until approximately 11 a.m.

One of those people, Malika Khatsieva, described the special operation to Human Rights Watch,140

When we heard the order for women and children to come out, it was 6:30 in the morning. My family went into the yard, and we were all forced to lie flat on the ground. We lay like that for 10 to 15 minutes. The kids were undressed, and the ground was so cold. Then, we were told to walk to the back end of the village where all their APCs and other vehicles stood. Women and kids just walked surrounded by servicemen, but men were made to crawl in the mud. We were all blue from cold, but they wouldn’t let us go back and get some clothes, not even for the kids. Raisa [Amrieva] was also brought there. She was crying, “They killed my child!” Her hand was bleeding badly but they did not even call a doctor.  We saw from a distance how grenades were thrown at Ramzan [Amriev]’s house, how they shot at the walls, and how that APC rode right into the house. Children were so frightened; they still cannot get over this.

At 11:30 a.m., officials from the civilian and military prosecutor’s office arrived in Chemulga. They took Ramzan Amriev into his house, showed him an automatic gun lying close to the doorstep and asked if the gun belonged to him. Amriev said that he had never seen that weapon. Later, prosecutor’s office had his fingerprints taken but did not mentioned the gun again.

The day after Rakhim Amriev’s murder, the military prosecutor’s office in the village of Tkoitskaya141 opened a criminal case “on the death of a child during an operation.” The investigator noted in the investigation file that the personnel of the FSB’s Ingushetia branch conducted the special operation in Chemulga in order to detain R. Makhauri, a suspect in several grave crimes, including organizing an illegal armed group.142 Though Makhauri is a distant relative of Ramzan Amriev, the Amrievs insist that they have not seen him in the past six years.

Ingushetia’s prosecutor, Yuri Turygin, told Human Rights Watch in May 2008 that he considered the scale of the operation at the Amriev household and the use of weapons justified by the fact that Makhauri is suspected of 11 particularly grave insurgency-related crimes, including killings of ethnic Russians. He also said that the unintentional killing of the six-year-old boy was being duly investigated and the investigation was attempting to identify the serviceman from whose weapon the fatal shot had been fired.143 Apparently, the authorities have made no attempt to hold accountable any other servicemen involved in the operation, or the FSB officer who commanded it.

So despite the fact that it is officially established that those responsible for the killing of Ramzan Amriev are from the FSB, they have not even been individually identified, let alone held accountable. Human Rights Watch can only speculate why it has not been possible in the six months since the crime to identify by which weapon Rakhim Amriev was killed and who was using the weapon at the time.

Adding to the doubts about the seriousness of the investigation, Ramzan Amriev’s cousin Aslan Amriev, who used to work in the administration of Chemulga, told us that he lost his job because of his refusal to provide false testimony regarding the special operation in the village,144

Two prosecutorial officials approached me; one was in plainclothes, the other one in grey camouflaged uniform. They asked, “Who was shooting from the [Amrievs’] house?” I said, “No one!” Then, the man in camouflage said, “I’ll take you outside now and will empty the cartridge of my gun into you… No, I’ll disappear you!” But I still refused to lie. So, when they were leaving, the officer in military uniform asked, “Where do you work?” I said that I worked at the local administration as a manager. Then, he promised, “You won’t be working there any more.” And on December 14 of this year I was fired. I worked there for eight years, and everything was fine. They must’ve forced the administration to fire me because of this case.

Killing of Said-Magomed Galaev and Ruslan Galaev

Two brothers, Said-Magomed Galaev (born 1983) and Ruslan Galaev (born 1986) were killed on September 27, 2007, in the village of Sagopshi, as a result of a special operation conducted by federal and local policemen.

According to their mother, Fasiman, and their elder brother, Tagir, the operation started at 6 a.m. when the family was sleeping. Said-Magomed’s wife, Madina, was awakened by a noise outside the house. She woke Said-Magomed and asked him to see what was happening. He went to the window near the front door, looked outside and yelled, “There are servicemen at the door!” The other family members were awakened by his cry and immediately heard gunshots outside.145

About a dozen of the servicemen broke into the house and continued shooting. Fasiman, dazed by the shooting, was still sitting on her bed in the room that she shared with her youngest son, 11-year-old Said-Akhmet, when Ruslan, already wounded, stumbled into the room and fell on the floor close to the bed. He was followed by several servicemen who continued to fire their guns. Several bullets hit the walls, one of them flying just above the head of Said Akhmet, who was crouching by the corner of a couch. Said-Magomed was killed near the door to his bedroom.146

The servicemen took Fasiman, Madina, Tagir, and Said-Akhmet into the yard without allowing them to get dressed. The Galaevs saw them throw several grenades into the house. The attackers had Tagir take the bodies of his brothers outside and ordered the crying women and the boy to sit by the corpses.

The Galaevs’ yard was surrounded by two APCs and a dozen armored UAZ vans. The servicemen numbered about 100.  Several of them seized Tagir and dragged him from the yard, beating him on the way. They refused to tell Fasiman where her elder son was being taken.

While the Galaevs were kept outside, the servicemen searched their house without a warrant and with no witnesses present. When they finished the search, they came out with a bag containing a grenade, two guns, a submachine gun, and some ammunition they allegedly found inside. The Galaevs insist that they had no weapons in the house.147

Fasiman Galaeva told Human Rights Watch,148

When Ruslan fell on the floor by my bed I thought—this boy of mine is dead, but the other two are still alive, and the little one is here with me. Then another son was killed. I pleaded with them, “You have already killed two of my children, please leave me those who still remain, but they took Tagir away without explanation. My daughter-in-law, my little son, and I were forced to sit on the ground with automatic guns pointed at us. I asked the servicemen, “Let me go. I need to bury my boys!” And they just brushed me off: “You might as well sit here—your sons won’t go anywhere.” So I sat next to their bodies and watched the blood flow out of them. One of the servicemen was nice to me—he allowed me to hold Ruslan’s hand. I could feel it getting colder and colder under my fingers and I was praying that Tagir was still among the living.”

Later that day, Fasiman and Madina were taken to the Malgobek district police department, where they found Tagir. Each member of the Galaev family was questioned separately by an investigator from the prosecutor’s office. The investigator wanted to know where the weapons in the house came from and which illegal armed groups Ruslan and Said-Magomed were involved with. Tagir Galaev was also asked specifically where he and his brothers were on the night of September 8 when military unit #3733 stationed in the town of Malgobek was attacked by insurgents.

That afternoon relatives and neighbors of the Galaev family gathered at the police department to demand their release. Late in the evening the family was finally allowed to return home.

Tagir Galaev told Human Rights Watch,149

They took me away at 6:30 in the morning and released me after 10 p.m. On the way to the police station the servicemen beat my legs and head. They were yelling that I was an insurgent and a Wahhabi. The investigator also accused me of attacking a military unit along with my brothers. I explained that on that night they were all at our relatives’ house at a large prayer gathering, and many people could confirm it. If not for the pressure from our relatives, who organized a picket by the police building, they would not have let me go.

A posthumous criminal case was initiated against Ruslan and Said-Magomed for alleged participation in an illegal armed group, unlawful possession of weapons, and armed resistance to law enforcement officials.150 In November 2007 Fasiman Galaeva filed a complaint with the prosecutor’s office regarding unlawful actions by the law enforcement personnel. The response by the prosecutor’s office stated that a preliminary inquiry into her complaint had been conducted, and “the actions of the servicemen of the Temporary Operative Group of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the Malgobek district of Ingushetia and the personnel of the Malgobek district police department, who conducted a search in the house belonging to Galaeva F.Kh., were legitimate and involved no violations.” Fasiman Galaeva’s request to initiate a criminal case was refused.151

Commenting on the decision not to launch a criminal investigation into Fasiman Galaeva’s complaint, Yuri Turygin told Human Rights Watch that the law enforcement officials had a judicial sanction to search the Galaev household. They noted that when they entered the house, they saw the Galaev brothers watching a video of the October 2002 Nord-Ost theater hostage-taking in Moscow, and this allegedly evidenced their support of terrorism.152 He also claimed that Ruslan Galaev and Said-Magomed Galaev opened fire on the servicemen, who then had no other choice but to fire in response.153 Although Human Rights Watch has no evidence to confirm whether the Galaev brothers put up armed resistance, based on the Galaevs’ description of the special operation—servicemen breaking into the house, shooting without warning—the law enforcement personnel would have been responsible for excessive use of force, and in particular unjustified use of lethal force. Further, there is no evidence that any ballistic examination was carried out to confirm that the Galaev brothers in fact fired weapons at the servicemen.

Killing of Khusein Mutaliev

On March 15, 2007, in the town of Malgobek, Khusein Mutaliev (born 1980) was mortally wounded by unidentified federal servicemen. According to Mutaliev’s relatives, between 5 and 6 a.m., around 20 armed servicemen in camouflage uniforms broke into their home. Some of them were masked. Several servicemen jumped over the fence and opened the gates for the rest of the group. They forcibly entered the house, did not identify themselves or explain the reasons for their actions, and forced all the family members face down on the floor.

Khusein Mutaliev’s mother told Human Rights Watch,154

They searched the house all over. I asked, “What are you looking for?” and they said, “Nothing, we know what we are looking for, just stay on the floor and be quiet!” They pushed me [down]. Then, they led my son out of the house, his arms twisted behind his back. I said, “Who are you?” and they replied, “We are Russian soldiers, President Putin sent us!” They didn’t show any papers … My son did not resist, he said, “Mom, don’t worry, they’ll figure it out and will let me go.” But as they took him away, they hit the back of his head with the butt of a gun. When he fell they started shooting at the ground near his feet. He jumped up and started running. They shot him—I saw blood steaming from his neck. Then they threw him into the car and left. We were all screaming.

Khusein’s brother, Khasan Mutaliev, got into a car and followed the servicemen from a distance. He saw their vehicles stopped by Ingush road police at some point. After a brief interaction with the policemen, they proceeded in the direction of North Ossetia. In response to Khasan Mutaliev’s pleas, one of the policemen explained that the servicemen had identification documents from the North Caucasus Group for Operative Supervision, a counterterrorism unit,155 and therefore could not be interfered with.

On the next day, March 16, Ingush policemen came to the Mutalievs with Khusein’s body. They said he had been taken to Vladikavkaz, where he died in a hospital. Prosecutorial authorities filed posthumous criminal charges against Khusein Mutaliev, as the servicemen claimed that he had a grenade and attempted to put up armed resistance when they came to arrest him. The case was promptly closed by virtue of the suspect being dead.

A piece of internal correspondence between the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Justice, made available to Human Rights Watch, indirectly acknowledges law enforcement responsibility for Mutaliev’s death. In the correspondence, regarding the need to stop transferring Ingush detainees to Vladikavkaz, Russia’s minister of internal affairs noted the public outrage prompted by the death of Khusein Mutaliev, who was “delivered from Ingushetia to the remand prison in Vladikavkaz.”156

In February 2007, several weeks before his killing, Khusein Mutaliev had come to the office of Memorial in Nazran and asked for protection. He explained that because he had studied in Egypt the security services had apparently branded him an Islamic extremist, and he had already suffered detention and torture. Mutaliev wrote in his statement to Memorial,157

They [security services] detained me in September 2006 and beat me. They were trying to force me to confess to some crimes that I did not commit. Then, they let me go because they had nothing against me. But now they’re persecuting me again. After the attempt on the life of the Mufti158 [of Ingushetia—see Chapter IV, above], I was summoned to the police station for questioning. What should I do? I’m ready to answer all of [their] questions, but as long as they treat me normally. I no longer go to mosque, because they think anyone who goes to mosque is a Wahhabi … There are many young men like me who are persecuted because they are Muslims.

According to Memorial, Khusein Mutaliev promised to return to their office with several other young observant Muslims who are persecuted by security services because of their religious affiliations and practices. He hoped Memorial could help them draft an open letter to the authorities stressing that they were ready to cooperate with competent agencies but needed guarantees of their rights’ protection.159 However, Khusein Mutailiev could not fulfill his plan as he died at the hands of counterinsurgency personnel.

Killing of Adam Gardanov and Magamed Chakhkiev

On February 7, 2007, at around 1 p.m., Adam Gardanov and Magamed Chakhkiev were shot dead by security personnel in the center of Nazran. According to witness reports, Gardanov and Chakhkiev were sitting in Gardanov’s car, which was parked near the entrance to a market. Up to 20 servicemen drove up, used their vehicles to block Gardanov’s car, and opened fire immediately, killing first Chakhkiev and then Gardanov. Adam Gardanov’s parents stressed to Human Rights Watch that his body was covered with bullet wounds, and showed a photograph to confirm this.160

The Ingushetia branch of the FSB claims that when FSB servicemen attempted to arrest them, Gardanov and Chakhkiev started shooting and were killed in crossfire. The prosecutor’s office opened a posthumous criminal case against Gardanov and Chakhkiev for an attempt on the life of law enforcement personnel161and illegal possession of weapons.162 However, according to the Gardanovs and their lawyer, Magomed Gandarov, dozens of people were present at the scene of the killing and asserted that Gardanov and Chakhkiev did not put up any armed resistance but were shot on the spot without warning.163

Adam Gardanov’s mother told Human Rights Watch,164

Two or three days after their killing, we were summoned to the police for questioning. I asked the investigator, “Why are you shooting innocent people?” So, he replied, “If your son had not been with that other guy on that day, everything would’ve been fine with him. It’s his own fault. Chakhkiev was wanted for various crimes. That’s why this happened. Your son shouldn’t have hung around with him.

Magomed Gandarov filed a complaint with the prosecutor’s office on behalf of Adam Gardanov’s relatives demanding an investigation into the actions of the security personnel and stressing that they used excessive force. At this writing, however, prosecutorial authorities not only have failed to launch a criminal case, but have not started an inquiry into the complaint.165

Attempted killing of Adam Malsagov

On July 4, 2007, in the Nasyr-Kort district of Nazran, unidentified servicemen attempted to kill 23-year-old Adam Malsagov, and endangered the life of his sister and cousins, who are minors.

Malsagov’s parents told Human Rights Watch that on July 4 Adam Malsagov was caring for his sick grandmother, who lives near Malsagov’s home. Close to 3 p.m. his cousins, 11-year-old Timur Khalukhoev and 13-year-old Ismail Khalukhoev, came to see him. The boys told him that a silver VAZ vehicle was parked closed to the apartment building where Malsagov and his cousins live. They were worried because the car did not move and the people inside seemed to be waiting for something.166

Adam Malsagov decided to check what was going on and returned home with his cousins. When they entered the yard, Adam’s sister, 15-year-old Aina, came out of the building and joined them. At that point, three armed men in camouflage uniforms entered the yard. Without any warning they opened fire, apparently aiming at Adam, but missed; one of the bullets hit a pipe just above Adam’s head. Aina was paralyzed with fright, but Adam and the boys broke into a run. The attackers continued shooting but again missed. Once they realized that  Adam escaped, they called someone on the radio and a few minutes later around 40 servicemen arrived in an APC and Gazel minibuses and surrounded the Malsagov’s building.

Mariam Malsagova, Adam’s mother, was working in the family’s shop, located in the same apartment building. She told Human Rights Watch,167

I heard the shots and went outside. Then I saw Adam and the two boys running away, and the men shooting at them—one of them was standing and two men were sitting and shooting. I don’t know how the boys got away, how Adam got away!

The servicemen presented Adam Malsagov’s parents with a search warrant, as well as an arrest warrant for Adam, issued by the FSB.168 One of the servicemen, who introduced himself as an FSB investigator, claimed that Adam was hiding weapons and explosives at home, and that some insurgents were expected to bring him more weapons. With two soldiers from the nearby military unit #3772 as witnesses, the officers searched the Malsagovs’ apartment, as well as the apartment on the second floor occupied by Mariam’s brother, who owns the building.

According to the Malsagovs, the search was conducted in a very rough, hostile manner despite the residents’ full cooperation. The officers eventually found a bullet-holder for a Kalashnikov submachine gun.169 According to Mariam, the bullet-holder belonged to one of her brothers; the man had died six years ago and had had a permit for the gun. Mariam explained this to the investigator.

At this writing, Adam Malsagov remains in hiding. His parents have been repeatedly summoned by the Ingush FSB and pressed for answers about their son’s possible whereabouts. Mariam Malsagova told Human Rights Watch,170 

I said to the investigator, “If he [Adam] did something wrong, arrest him and punish him, but you’re shooting right at him. You could’ve killed him and the little boys as well! I wouldn’t have been able to look people in the eyes, if those boys had been killed because of my son!” But they [FSB officials] are telling me, “He was going to shoot our men.” How could he do that? He never had any firearms!

My husband had a heart attack after this. He still hasn’t quite recovered. And the little ones, we only found them late in the evening, they ran so far away. One of them has been stammering ever since. 

Human Rights Watch is not in a position to confirm whether Adam Malsagov was trying to put up armed resistance. However, witness reports indicate that the servicemen did not use lethal force as a last resort, gave no warning before opening fire, and did not take measures to preserve civilian life, thereby putting the lives of several children at risk.

110 Human Rights Watch interview with a Memorial researcher, Alexander Cherkasov, Moscow, May 12, 2008.

111 A further case documented by Human Rights Watch, the killing of Elbert Gorbakov (born 1985) on October 9, 2007, in Malgobek, Ingushetia, was not included in this report as there were no eyewitnesses to the shooting.

112 ICCPR, art. 6; ECHR, art.2.

113 ICCPR, art. 4 (2); UN Human Rights Committee, General Comment No. 6, The right to life (Article 6), Sixteenth session 1982, U.N. Doc A/37/40, para. 3; Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-Legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions, E.S.C. res. 1989/65, annex, 1989 U.N. ESCOR Supp. (No. 1) at 52, U.N. Doc. E/1989/89 (1989), principle 1; ECHR, art. 2. See, inter alia, the following judgments from the European Court of Human Rights: McCann and Others v. UK, no. 18984/91, judgment of 27 September, 1995, paras. 146-147, Avsar v. Turkey, no. 25657/94, judgment of 10 July 2001, para. 390, Ikincisoy v. Turkey, no. 26144/95, judgment of 27 July 2004, para. 67.

114 McCann and Others v. UK, para. 150, Ikincisoy v. Turkey, para. 68.

115 ECHR, art. 2; McCann and Others v. UK, para. 149. Hence, the use of the term “absolutely necessary” in article 2(2) signifies that the test of necessity under this article is stricter than the test determining whether an action is “necessary in a democratic society” employed under articles 8 to 11 of the Convention.

116 McKerr v. UK, no. 28883/95, judgment of 4 May 2001, para. 109; Ikincisoy v. Turkey, paras. 68-69. The Court has in such cases considered the burden of proof to rest on the authorities to provide a plausible explanation.

117 See, inter alia, Khashiyev and Akayeva v. Russia, nos. 57942/00 and 57945/00, judgment of 24 February 2005; Bitiyeva and X v. Russia, nos. 57953/00 and 37392/03, judgment of 21 June 2007, and Musayeva and Others v. Russia, no. 74239/01, judgment of 26 July 2007.

118UN Human Rights Commitee, General Comment No. 6, The right to life (Article 6), para. 3; McCann and Others v. UK, para. 161; Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-Legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions.

119 ECHR, arts. 2 and 13; ICCPR, arts. 2(3) and 6; Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-Legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions, principles 16 and 20.

120 Ikincisoy v. Turkey, para. 77, Jordan v. UK, no. 24746/94, judgment of 4 May 2001, para. 107.

121 See, inter alia, Khashiyev and Akayeva v. Russia; Bitiyeva and X v. Russia; and Musayeva and Others v. Russia.

122 Human Rights Watch interviews with three witnesses to the killing who chose to remain anonymous.

123 “Aslan N.” told Human Rights Watch in an interview on December 28, 2007, in Nazran, Ingushetia, “And they put a grenade and a gun on him. I saw this myself.” The other witnesses questioned by Human Rights Watch did not see this incident but heard about it from those who allegedly saw it.

124 Human Rights Watch interview with Aslan N. (real name withheld at his request), Nazran, Ingushetia, December 28, 2007.

125 “A teacher’s family killed in revenge – procuracy of Ingushetia,” RIA Novosti, August 31, 2007, (accessed March 18, 2008).

126 Human Rights Watch interview with Aslan N., December 28, 2007.

127 The kindergarten presently serves as a dormitory for Ingush forcibly displaced from the Prigorodny district of North Ossetia in the early 1990s.

128 Human Rights Watch interview with a riot police serviceman who took part in the detention of the security personnel responsible for the September 2, 2007 operation in Karabulak, Ingushetia, December 21, 2007. The interviewee requested anonymity.

129 During this meeting with the leadership of Memorial on October 2007, Ingushetia’s prosecutor, Yuri Turygin, confirmed that the Prosecutor General’s Office in the Southern Federal District of the Russian Federation opened a criminal case against the policemen under article 286, part 3, para “a” of Russian Criminal Code (“abuse of official powers with the use of violence”). See Memorial, “Ingushetia 2007 – What’s Next,” (Ингушетия 2007 – куда дальше?), Section 4.6.1, “Extrajudicial execution of Apti Dalakov,” (Внесудебная казнь Апти Далакова).

130 See, for instance, Denis Stukal and Alexei Titkov, “Politics in the Regions,” September 10-16, 2007, (accessed March 12, 2008).

131 Human Rights Watch meeting with Yuri Turygin and other Ingushetia authorities, May 27, 2008.

132 Russian Criminal Code, art. 317.

133 Ibid., art. 222, part 1.

134 A copy of the decree on the closure of criminal case #27520028 is on file with Human Rights Watch.

135 Human Rights Watch interview with Apti Dalakov’s uncle, Magomed Dalakov, Karabulak, Ingushetia, December 21, 2007. During the interview Human Rights Watch had access to his correspondence with prosecutorial officials.

136 See, for example, “A prominent murder case investigated without delay,” (Громкое убийство расследуют по горячим следам), NTV, September 3, 2007, (accessed March 18, 2008); and Vladislav Trifonov, “A Wahhabi was found in Ryabinka kindergarden,” (Ваххабита нашли в ‘Рябинке’), Kommersant Daily, September 4, 2007, (accessed March 18, 2008).

137 See, for example, “Ingushetia: Chronicle of terrorist attacks, shootings, and abduсtions,” (Ингушетия: хроника терактов, обстрелов, похищений), Caucausian Knot, September 15, 2007, (accessed March 18, 2008).

138 Human Rights Watch interview with Ramzan Amriev, Chemulga, Ingushetia, December 21, 2007.

139 Ramzan Amriev, his cousin Aslan Amriev, and two of his neighbors interviewed by Human Rights Watch in Chemulga on December 21, 2008, stated that there were eight adults and 14 children altogether.

140 Human Rights Watch interview with Malika Khatsieva, Chemulga, Ingushetia, December 21, 2007.

141 This is where Motorized Infantry Regiment #503 is deployed.

142 This claim appears in a decree dated November 13, 2007, signed by a senior investigator of the military procuracy, Major of Justice Tupov, recognizing the boy’s father, Ramzan Amriev, as a victim of the crime. The document was examined by Human Rights Watch during the interview with Ramzan Amriev on December 21, 2007, in Chemulga, Ingushetia.

143 Human Rights Watch meeting with Yuri Turygin and other Ingushetia authorities, May 27, 2008.

144 Human Rights Watch interview with Aslan Amriev, Chemulga, Ingushetia, December 21, 2007.

145 Human Rights Watch interview with Fasiman Galaeva, Sagopshi, Ingushetia, December 24, 2007; Human Rights Watch interview with Tagir Galaev, Sagopshi, Ingushetia, December 24, 2007.

146 Human Rights Watch interview with Fasiman Galaeva, Sagopshi, Ingushetia, December 24, 2007.

147 Human Rights Watch interview with Fasiman Galaeva, December 24, 2007; Human Rights Watch interview with Tagir Galaev, December 24, 2007.

148 Human Rights Watch interview with Fasiman Galaeva, December 24, 2007.

149 Human Rights Watch interview with Tagir Galaev, December 24, 2007.

150 A copy of the decree on opening of the criminal case under article 317 and article 222, part 2 of the Russian criminal case is on file with Human Rights Watch.

151 Fasiman Galaeva’s correspondence with competent authorities was examined by Human Rights Watch in conjunction with the interview on December 24, 2007, in Sagopshi, Ingushetia. Notably, the preliminary inquiry appeared superficial as neither of the Galaevs was even questioned by the authorities on that account.

152 Human Rights Watch has no evidence to corroborate this statement. However, even if the Galaevs watched the said video, which seems hardly likely considering the early hour, it would not give sufficient basis to accuse them of terrorism and could by no means justify the brutal conduct of the operation in their house.

153 Human Rights Watch meeting with Yuri Turygin and other Ingushetia authorities, May 27, 2008.

154 Human Rights Watch interview with Khusen Mutaliev’s mother, Malgobek, Ingushetia, December 24, 2007.

155 Groups for Operative Supervision (ГРОУ – группа оперативного управления) over counterterrorism operations were created in all the republics of the North Caucasus right after the insurgents’ raid on Ingushetia in June 2004. These groups are authorized to carry out counterinsurgency operations through joint efforts of local FSB, police, internal troops, and Ministry for Emergency situations personnel. See Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan, “FSB does not lower itself to [counter-]terror,” (ФСБ до террора не опускается), Moskosvkie Novosti, February 4, 2005, as reproduced at (accessed March 26, 2008).

156 A copy of this document was given to Human Rights Watch by Ingushetia’s president at

Human Rights Watch’s meeting with Ingushetia authorities in Magas, Ingushetia, on May 27, 2008.

157 A copy of Khussein Mutaliev’s handwritten statement addressed to Human Rights Center Memorial and dated February 5, 2008, is on file with Human Rights Watch.

158 On January 21, 2007, around 8.30 p.m., unknown insurgents shot at the car of the Mufti Isa Khamkhoev. Khamkhoev and his son were wounded. For details, see “Attack on the Mufti of Ingushetia can be linked to his activity,” (Нападение на муфтия Ингушетии может быть связано с его деятельностью), RIA Novosti, February 1, 2007, (accessed March 26, 2008).

159 See Memorial, “Ingushetia 2007 – What’s Next,” (Ингушетия 2007 – куда дальше?), Section 3, “Winter-Spring 2007,” (Зима-Весна 2007).

160 Human Rights Watch interview with Adam Gardanov’s father, mother, and uncle, Nazran, Ingushetia, December 27, 2007.

161 Russian Criminal Code, art. 317.

162 Ibid., art. 222, part 1.

163 Human Rights Watch interview with Adam Gardanov’s father, mother, and uncle, December 27, 2007; Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Magomed Gandarov, March 21, 2008.

164 Human Rights Watch interview with Adam Gardanov’s father, mother, and uncle, December 27, 2007.

165 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Magomed Gandarov, March 21, 2008.

166 Human Rights Watch interview with Magomed-Bashir Malsagov and Mariam Malsagova, Nazran, Ingushetia, December 23, 2007.

167 Ibid.

168 According to article 91 of Russia’s Code of Criminal Procedure, an individual can be detained for up to 48 hours on an investigator’s order without a court warrant.

169 On December 23, 2007, Human Rights Watch examined the protocol of the search in the Malsagovs household.

170 Human Rights Watch interview with Magomed-Bashir Malsagov and Mariam Malsagova, December 23, 2007.