The case of Chechen national Zubair Zubairaev continues to cause concern. During the second Chechen war, Zubairaev fled Russia with his family. They were granted asylum in Austria. But in 2007 the family decided to return to Chechnya. Soon after their return, Zubairaev was detained by local police. For some time he was officially missing, as his relatives knew nothing of his whereabouts.
In August 2007 Zubairaev was sentenced to five years in custody on the charge of assault of a police officer and illegal possession of arms. He was transferred to serve his sentence in the Volgograd penal colony. When he managed to contact his sisters, he told the that he was continuously being beaten up.
Now Amnesty International USA has circulated another report, giving further details of Zubairaev’s continuing torture and mistreatment at the hands of the Volgograd authorities.
Zubair Zubairaev was again severely beaten on 10 and 12 April 2009 according to a report from his lawyer. When Zubair Zubairaev’s lawyer visited him in the prison hospital in Volgograd on 23 April, he noticed signs of beatings on his client’s body. The lawyer has stated that Zubair Zubairaev had severe bruising on his shoulders and across
his chest. There were also signs of beatings on his lower back. The lawyer asked the prison hospital official to call for a doctor so that the injuries could be documented; however, the official reportedly refused to do so.
See also in this blog: Zubajraev case: torture and mistreatment
The law suit against the young journalist, Elena Maglevannaia, who has publicised Zubair’s case, is continuing, the next hearing being set for Tuesday, 12 May. It is interesting to note the similarity of her case with the persecution of the somewhat better-known activist, Lev Ponomaryov. Both involve cynical abuse of the judicial system to persecute critics of the treatment of prisoners in Russia. Ponomaryov’s case has been written up in the current Bigotry Monitor:
“The Times” noted that last year Ponomaryov traveled to the United States and gave interviews and speeches about the widespread abuse and torture of inmates in Russia’s prisons. Upon returning home, he was accused of slandering the head of prisons. A criminal case was opened, and Ponomaryov was banned from leaving Moscow for nine months.
“I have information that, after my attack, [prison authorities] were telling inmates, ‘We beat you and we’ll continue beating you, and your friend Ponomaryov can’t help you anymore,'” Ponomaryov told “The Times.”