Aslan Kagermanov has an asylum in Austria. However, being for his personal affairs in Croatia he was arrested and put into a facility where those awaiting deportation are held. A former fighter for Chechen independence, he fled Chechnya in 2005. However, Russian authorities issued an international police order for his arrest on the grounds he allegedly killed a police officer.
In fact, during the war police, as well as military, officers are being killed on regular basis. War is war. Russian officers, armed with bombardment aviation, shelling artillery and all kinds of modern weapons, killed much more Chechens than Chechen fighters destroyed their Russian enemies. Thus, such orders are unfair in its essence.
Moreover, what awaits this poor Chechen in case he would be deported to Russia is unimaginable torture, long years of imprisonment with conditions similar to Hitler’s concentration camps and possible death in custody. That’s because Chechens in Russia are treated with horrible discrimination. Those Chechens who fought in the war are labeled criminals, not prisoners of the war.
My accession of his case is well-grounded on numerous reports from independent human rights bodies, including Amnesty International, about severe discrimination of persons of Chechen origin in Russia. Those persons are practically deprived of their right for fair trial, legal defense and decent treatment. Instead, they are subjected to extrajudicial and unlawful retaliation through fabricated criminal cases, tortures and killings. Svetlana Gannushkina, a member of the Presidential Council for Human Rights and Civil Society, Russian Federation, underscores in her detailed reports with the Russian renown human rights center Memorial that Chechens in Russia are discriminated in systematic way, especially at correctional facilities. She describes hundreds of documented cases of such treatment of persons of Chechen origin.
What “discrimination of Chechens” really means in Russia, and, therefore, what kind of fate awaits for Aslan Kagermanov in case of his extradition, I can illustrate with horrible examples, from mutilation of Zubayr Zubayraev to the bitter plight of Murad Gasaev, another asylum seeker, extradited by Spain on Russia’s “guarantees.”
Here is a quote from the recent press conference which took place on Oct. 20 in Moscow on Zubayraev case. The quote from Svetlana Gannushkina’s talk at the conference shows exactly what Zubayraev endured in several colonies and prisons in Russia (he was sentenced on entirely forged case simply because he participated at peaceful manifestations in Chechnya protesting the war and hosted refugees at home): “Zubayraev barely can move on crutches, he literally brought to the physical and mental devastation. The entire left half of his face, from forehead to chin turned into a huge hematoma and almost lost sensitivity, which is a paresis of the facial nerve. His hands are in wounds as if pieces of meat were torn with tongs. On his right knee is a wound full of pus; Zubayraev told his lawyers that this wound was made to him with a screwdriver. Signs of an acute concussion are evident.” He is being constantly threatened that if he continues to complain lawyers and human rights advocates, he would not leave the prison alive, despite his term ends in the next year.
And here is another horrible episode. Murad Gasaev was acquitted by the court because during the trial it turned out that his name was called out arbitrary by another prisoner who was undergoing unbearable tortures but later rejected his own testimony. Acquittal is extremely seldom for Chechens; in this case, Spanish diplomats watched the case. Nevertheless, after the acquittal, when monitoring was lifted, the “law enforcement” officers attempted to forge another criminal case on Gasaev. Only thanks to the human rights activists he was finally left alone. He probably left Russia again. He is lucky. Not so lucky are other Chechens, though.
Also, here is the case of Zaurbeck Talkhigov. Talkhigov is a Chechen who used to live in Moscow. A small business owner, he had nothing with the war. During the Moscow theater siege in Oct. 2002, Aslanbek Aslakhanov, State Duma member, called on the Chechen Diaspora in Moscow to come to the theater and try to convince their compatriots to set the hostages free. Talkhigov came on Aslakhanov’s call. Aslakhanov gave him a phone number for the hostage-takers leader, Baraev. Talkhigov called him under the FSB officers’ control and tried to convince Baraev to let the hostages go. Immediately after his call, Talkhigov was arrested and charged with aiding terrorists.
He was sentenced to 8 years of imprisonment. In a prison in the city of Syktyvkar (Komi Republic, RF) he was beaten on daily basis; also, during food distribution by the prison staff, he was intently given a spoon from a barrack where prisoners with TB and other infectious diseases were kept. In June 2006, he got sick and has been diagnosed of hepatitis C. He was refused of a most-necessary surgery.
These are just some examples out of several hundreds documented “Chechen criminal cases” and extrajudicial executions of Chechens. These examples show systematic nature of persecution of all Chechens who are or suspected to be involved into the war. These episodes prove high possibility of the similar fate for Aslan Kagermanov. These examples show direct threat to Kagermanov’s life and safety in case of his forced return to Chechnya.
I call on readers who can help me to save just another life of a person who happened to belong to a nation that counts hardly a million at all. Please write emails or send faxes to Croatia’s president and minister of interior (I did it already). I hope we will safe Aslan Kagermanov’s life.