Annual Report: Russian Federation 2013

Report
May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Russian Federation 2013

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  • In October, a senior Federal Security Service (FSB) official reportedly stated that the FSB had secured the closure of 20 NGOs in Ingushetia for their links with foreign intelligence services. He provided no information either on any specific case involving charges of espionage against an NGO in Ingushetia, or on which NGOs had supposedly been closed for this reason. However, he singled out the well-known Ingushetian human rights NGO, Mashr, as a “foreign agent” still in operation.
  • On 20 January, lawyer Omar Saidmagomedov and his cousin were shot dead in Makhachkala, Dagestan, by security officials. The authorities reported the incident as a killing of two armed group members during a shoot-out. Omar Saidmagomedov's colleagues dismissed this report and demanded an investigation into allegations that he had been extrajudicially executed because of his professional activities. The investigator summoned the lawyer representing Omar Saidmagomedov's family for questioning as a witness, apparently with the aim of disqualifying him from acting as legal counsel in the case.
  • Elena Milashina, a journalist from the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, together with a friend, was assaulted by two men in the street in Moscow on 4 April, and received serious injuries. The investigator identified and charged two individuals who initially signed confessions but retracted them after their families hired independent lawyers. The investigator ignored protests by Elena Milashina that the two did not fit her friend's description of the men who assaulted her and that the real perpetrators had not been identified.
  • Igor Kalyapin, head of the NGO Committee Against Torture, was threatened with criminal proceedings in connection with his work on the case of Islam Umarpashaev, torture victim from Chechnya. On 7 July, Igor Kalyapin was summoned by a criminal investigator for questioning for allegedly disseminating confidential information. In September, journalists who had interviewed Igor Kalyapin and individuals who wrote letters to show their support were summoned for questioning.

Torture and other ill-treatment

Allegations of torture and other ill-treatment remained widely reported and effective investigations were rare. Law enforcement officials allegedly frequently circumvented the existing legal safeguards against torture through, among other things: the use of secret detention (particularly in the North Caucasus); the use of force supposedly to restrain violent detainees; investigators denying access to a lawyer of one's choice and favouring specific state-appointed lawyers who were known to ignore signs of torture.

In March, one torture case in Kazan was widely reported in the media after a man died of internal injuries in hospital. He claimed that he had been raped with a bottle at the police station. Several police officers were arrested and charged with abuse of power, and two were later sentenced to two and two-and-a-half years' imprisonment respectively. Many more allegations of torture by police in Kazan and elsewhere followed media reports of this case. In response to an NGO initiative, the Head of the Investigative Committee decreed to create special departments to investigate crimes committed by law enforcement officials. However, the initiative was undermined by the failure to provide these departments with adequate staff resources.