To cover its Human Rights Atrocities, Russia Flouts International Law

Human Rights Watch reports:

Russia has ignored a series of judgments by the European Court of Human Rights on Chechnya, fueling unchecked violence in the North Caucasus, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Following the recent murders of human rights defenders there, the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly will decide on September 28, 2009 whether to schedule a debate to focus on the dangerous conditions for human rights defenders in the North Caucasus.

The 38-page report, “‘Who Will Tell Me What Happened to My Son?’: Russia’s Implementation of European Court of Human Rights Judgments on Chechnya,” examines Russia’s response to European Court judgments on cases from Chechnya. In almost all of the 115 rulings, the court concluded that Russia was responsible for extrajudicial executions, torture, and enforced disappearances, and that it had failed to investigate these crimes. In the 33 cases researched by Human Rights Watch, Russia has still not brought a single perpetrator to justice, even in cases in which those who participated in or commanded the operations that led to violations are named in the European Court judgments.

“The families who brought these cases deserve justice for brutal acts against their loved ones,” said Jane Buchanan, senior researcher on Russia for Human Rights Watch and an author of the report. “Every crime that goes unpunished sends a clear signal to others that they can get away with equally horrific abuses.”

In recent months, there has been a pattern of violence and threats against human rights defenders in Chechnya. On July 15, 2009, the leading human rights voice in Chechnya, Natalia Estemirova, was kidnapped and murdered. Less than a month later, on August 10, Zarema Sadulayeva and her husband Alik Dzhabrailov, activists from the local humanitarian organization Save the Generation, were abducted from their office in Grozny and found murdered the next day. Local law enforcement authorities have been implicated in the killings, but there have been no arrests.

Several staff members of Memorial, the leading Russian human rights organization and the group for which Estemirova worked as a researcher, have been threatened, intimidated, and harassed in recent weeks by security services, including suspicious visits to their homes. A court in Moscow on September 25 began hearing a civil defamation suit brought by the president of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, against Memorial’s director, Oleg Orlov, who stated in July that Kadyrov was responsible for Estemirova’s murder.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Europe’s premier human rights monitoring body, holds its autumn session this week in Strasbourg, France. It is scheduled to vote today on whether to hold a so-called “current affairs debate” on threats against human rights defenders in the North Caucasus.

One of the cases described in the Human Rights Watch report concerned Khadzhi-Murat Yandiyev. While watching an evening-news broadcast on February 2, 2000, his mother, Fatima Bazorkina saw footage of federal forces detaining him. The video showed a Russian Army colonel-general, Alexander Baranov, yelling at soldiers, saying, “Come on, come on, come on, do it, take him away, finish him off, shoot him, damn it…” Russian servicemen are then seen leading Yandiyev away. He has not been seen since and his body was never found.

In 2006, the European Court determined that the Russian government had illegally detained and killed Yandiyev and had failed to conduct a proper investigation into his disappearance. To this day, Bazorkina has received no information from Russian investigative authorities about her son’s fate.

As a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights, Russia has an obligation following a European Court judgment to pay the monetary compensation and legal fees awarded by the court – which it has done. But it also is required to take steps in each individual case to remedy the violations, as well as adopt policy and legal changes to prevent similar violations.

The European Court judgments on Chechnya, issued between 2005 and 2009, relate to violations during Russia’s military and intelligence operations in Chechnya from 1999 to 2004. In almost all cases, the court determined that Russia had routinely failed to conduct effective investigations into crimes committed by its servicemen. One of the key steps for Russia to rectify the violations in such cases is to conclude investigations and bring perpetrators to justice. However, Human Rights Watch found that Russia has not effectively pursued these investigations even after the judgments were handed down.

In a troubling new trend, in several cases Russian investigative authorities have flatly contested the court’s findings of state responsibility for human rights violations in Chechnya, even in cases in which those officials participating in the operations that led to violations or their superiors are known and named in court judgments.

“It is profoundly disappointing for victims and their families when Russia blatantly ignores the core of the judgments and its obligations to the Council of Europe,” said Buchanan. “Full implementation of European Court judgments not only provides real justice to the victims and their relatives, but has enormous potential to produce lasting improvements in the human rights situation in Chechnya and Russia.”

Human Rights Watch called on the Russian authorities to bring ongoing investigations in these cases to meaningful conclusions, including prosecuting perpetrators, as well as to cooperate with future judgments. Human Rights Watch also urged Council of Europe member states to make implementation of European Court judgments a priority issue in their bilateral and multilateral dialogues with Russia.

17 responses to “To cover its Human Rights Atrocities, Russia Flouts International Law

  1. Meanhwile in Moscow

    Kadyrov Wins Defamation Lawsuit

    Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov on Tuesday won a defamation lawsuit against Memorial rights group chairman Oleg Orlov, who blamed him for the killing of a colleague.


    Orlov vowed to appeal.

    “I don’t agree with this decision, but in modern Russia one couldn’t expect any other,” he said.

    Kadyrov said he was “satisfied” with the ruling.

    “I tried to explain to Orlov right from the start that he is not right, and I gave him my opinion on this matter very nicely and politely,” Kadyrov told RIA-Novosti.

    Kadyrov sought 10 million rubles ($330,000) in damages, but judge Tatyana Fedosova ruled that Memorial and Orlov should pay 70,000 rubles ($2,300)

    “It’s a pity the amount is so small. It would have been a good lesson to other liars,” Kadyrov’s lawyer, Andrei Krasnenkov, told reporters.

    Still, the ruling came as a blow to rights activists who have sharply criticized the government’s policies in Chechnya and elsewhere but have been stonewalled by the Kremlin.

    The Kremlin has strongly backed Kadyrov, whose security forces have been accused of massive abuses against civilians during the fight against militants still active in Chechnya after two separatist wars over the last 15 years.

    The ruling came after defense witness Alexander Cherkasov testified that Estemirova had feared for her safety after a March 2008 conversation with Kadyrov.


    Estemirova had worked with investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who accused Kadyrov of atrocities and gross human rights violations and was gunned down in her Moscow apartment building in 2006.

    Estemirova also helped Stanislav Markelov, a lawyer involved in Chechen rights abuse cases who was shot dead on a Moscow street in January, along with an opposition newspaper reporter.

    • @“It’s a pity the amount is so small. It would have been a good lesson to other liars,” Kadyrov’s lawyer, Andrei Krasnenkov, told reporters.

      More from this fellow:

      Kadyrov did not appear in court Friday. His lawyer, Andrei Krasnenkov, claimed Orlov’s comments were part of a Western effort to weaken Russia and were destabilizing the situation in Chechnya.

      “Odious groups such as Memorial are financed by Western sponsors, and they need to justify their funding,” Krasnenkov said.

      He claimed that Estemirova was “somehow used in a dirty game” against Kadyrov and the Kremlin.

      • More of Krasenkov still:

        When explaining to the judge why his client was asking for such a large sum of money in damages, Krasnenkov argued that Kadyrov’s mother had not been able to stop crying since the day she heard her son had been accused of murder. Kadyrov’s little son approached his father after a news broadcast in July and asked, “Daddy, are you really a killer?” This, the lawyer argued, distressed Kadyrov, whom Krasnenkov described as “a caring son and loving father”. The plaintiff also argued that Orlov’s statement caused his image and reputation in Russia and abroad to suffer, alluding to interviews published in the world’s leading media outlets.

        Krasnenkov said that Orlov’s argument about human rights work in Chechnya being impossible was nonsensical because he knew several Chechens who came from Moscow to work for Kadyrov and were doing very well. Finally, he hinted that he would not be surprised to find out that Memorial was behind the killing of Estemirova, thus following the guidance of its foreign donors working to destroy Chechnya and Russia.

  2. Orlov should consider himself lucky to still be breathing. And who knows how much longer he will be?

  3. Politkovskaya’s family still demand answers, justice

    Paris-based media watchdog Reporters without Frontiers and Amnesty International used the looming anniversary of Politkovskaya’s murder to criticize Russia’s rights record, but officials from the group were not granted visas in time for Tuesday’s event, a decision Igor Politkovsky called “stupid”.

    In an open letter, rights group Amnesty International urged Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to demonstrate a real commitment to bring the killers of Politkovskaya and slain human rights activists to justice. “That those who murdered Anna Politkovskaya and ordered her killing remain free reflects a failure by the Russian authorities to fully investigate such crimes,” said Amnesty’s Secretary General Irene Khan.

    • Hundreds rally in Moscow in Politkovskaya’s memory

      (AP) – 2 hours ago

      They are calling for authorities to find and punish the killers of journalists and human rights activists in Russia.

      Politkovskaya was a harsh critic of the Kremlin and exposed widespread human-rights abuses and corruption in Chechnya. The person who ordered her contract-style killing has not been found.

      Her editor Dmitry Muratov told the crowd that “there is a political will in not solving the murders” of Politkovskaya and others.

      Some of Russia’s most prominent human rights activists and political opposition leaders are taking part in Wednesday’s rally. Memorial events are also planned in London and Paris.

  4. Bankrupt Russiatoday.
    Google human rights. On the right side of the page click on Russia Today. Every clicks costs them money. Here is there daily adspend.

  5. Dear La Russophobe,
    We’ve just run this article on the Kadyrov “defamation” case, written by Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch, and thought it might complement your already excellent coverage! Here it is.
    Thanks alot,
    Index on Censorship.

  6. here is anna polytovskaya describes russian war crimes in chechnya:

    here’s the gallery of russian war crimes in chechnya.
    WARNING: pictures are very graphic

    all of this because chchens want to free their nation from two centuries of colonization under russia.

  7. Hundreds rally in Moscow in Politkovskaya’s memory

    By DAVID NOWAK (AP) – 1 hour ago

    MOSCOW — Hundreds of people urged Russian authorities to find and punish the killers of journalists and human rights activists in Russia, rallying Wednesday to mark the third anniversary of the killing of Anna Politkovskaya.

    “The authorities are incapable of solving such crimes,” said Mikhail Kasyanov, a former prime minister and now a leader of the opposition. “Even the most honest investigator cannot solve the crime because the government won’t let him.”

    The demonstration, in typical fashion, was heavily policed. City Hall had forbidden a gathering of more than 350 people.

    Flowers were taped to the building’s wall and placed against a large color poster of Politkovskaya. A smaller poster read: “The smart, honest and brave cannot survive in Russia.”

    A policeman jotted down the slogans on a scrap of paper.

  8. Sergey Shelukhin

    See, here you have a good article on real crimes. It’s other irrelevant (some individual crime in Canada), factually incorrect (the one describing movies and registration), one-sidedly incorrect (Georgian war), and plain idiotic (tennis poll) articles that make you a fringe blog with 10 people who hold exact same opinion commenting each post.
    If you are so smart and knowledgeable, why don’t you go to I dunno, WSJ? Oh wait, as one of your commenters told me, “because [mainstream press] is stupid”. I am thinking someone might be missing a point, and that’s not mainstream press. I gather I am gonna unsubscribe from this site after next stupid article (which will probably be very soon ;)), and only keep existing comment threads going…

    I dunno what your purpose is, but consider me. I don’t like Putin & co, even though I don’t think it’s possible to unseat them now without a revolution. What effect does your blog has on me? Now I actually like Putin a tiny bit more and neocons less, my (Russian) patriotism is up from 5% to 7%, and while previously my thoughts of Georgian war were “well here’s another war that Putin mismanaged”, now I actually see how crazy Georgian neocon proxy was and how Putin was right.

    You claim you want to change people’s opinion to reform Russia for good, but the only people who are your active target audience are fanatical Russia-haters and those whose opinion you shift to the opposite direction.

    • @What effect does your blog has on me? Now I actually like Putin a tiny bit more and neocons less, my (Russian) patriotism is up from 5% to 7%, and while previously my thoughts of Georgian war were “well here’s another war that Putin mismanaged”, now I actually see how crazy Georgian neocon proxy was and how Putin was right.

      Nah, you should say:

      “now I actually see how crazy Georgian genocidal proxy launched an unprovoked extermination campaign against the peace-loving nation of South Ossetia (Russian citiziens) and how Putin was right.”

      You’re doing it wrong.

      • Just one tweak,

        “the peace-loving independent country”

        Now fully in accordance to the official line (and fully against the report’s findings). “And how Putin was right.|

  9. Good riddance, Sergey, the liar!

  10. Anyone who thinks Ras Putkin is right about anything , is not a moscovite patriot,
    but just a regular moscovite .

  11. Sorry if this is irrelevant, but I found a pretty interesting article called ” Leaving the Caucasus will make Russia stronger” by Igor Averkiev where he argues that if Russia let caucasus free be better off. He mainly concentrates why Russia should give Chechnya freedom (something i strongly agree with). Even though his arguments are full of typical Russian xenaphobia against Chechens and people from Caucasus, and he argues that Chechnya gained a lot by being under Russia (strongly disagree), does not mentino any war crimes committed against chechens in his argument, this is the response he got in Russia:

    From Kerkko Paananen, at FinRosForum:

    Leaving the Caucasus will make Russia stronger, wrote Igor Averkiev, chairman of the Perm Civic Chamber, in January 2009. Mr Averkiev’s words turned out to be so inflammable that in April 2009, the prosecutor’s office in Perm found that his article contained calls to extremist action. The FSB has now initiated a criminal case against him. Furthermore, the prosecutor has asked a court to recognise Mr Averkiev’s article as extremist and include the article on the federal list of banned publications.

    Mr Averkiev regards the accusations as absurd. In Russia, the “fight against extremism” is quite separate from actual extremism, he said. “In effect, what the authorities are trying to do is ban normal, honest discussion about Ramzan Kadyrov’s regime in Chechnya, about the future of the Caucasus, and about Russia’s interests in the region,” Mr Averkiev said. Recent events prove, in fact, that Russia has lost control of the North Caucasus, he concluded.

    This is not the first time that Mr Averkiev has been accused of extremism: in December 2007, his article, “Putin is our good Hitler,” published in the Perm Public Chamber’s newspaper, Lichnoe Delo, angered the authorities. Russia’s state censor, Roskomnadzor, found that certain passages in the article could be considered as calls to overthrow Russia’s constitutional order. In the article, Mr Averkiev compared Putin to Hitler before the war. That time, he “got away” with questioning

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