“Institutionalized lawlessness” – 3

Via Jeremy Putley:

Dear all,

I have just got information from Malika Zubajraev. She is in Grozny. She tells that the last info on Zubajr’s whereabouts was a week ago. An unknown person called her number on Zubajr’s request (in her words) to let them know that he was temporarily being located in Novosibirsk. Malika tells that she has been trying to contact Novosibirsk after that but was told that Zubajr had been already moved. There has been no information on his whereabouts since then and it is not known whether he was brought to Enisejsk (Krasnojarsk region) or not.

What is really worrying is that Malika told that she also received an official notification from Volgograd that she will be taken to account for “defamation” against LIU 15 colony. Tne letter is from May 22 and it is signed by the deputy head of UFSIN of Volgograd Zubov.

Best, Oksana[Chelysheva]

See also: “Institutionalized lawlessness”

“Institutionalized lawlessness” – 2

Finns protest against Putin

The Moscow Times has published a report on the case of Russian journalist Yelena Maglevannaya, who has asked for political asylum in Finland:

Maglevannaya […] said she feared that her life was in danger in Russia after messages that she should be killed for her reports were posted on the web site of a nationalist group, the Russian Nationwide Union. She said a doctor at the prison where the Chechen inmate was incarcerated belonged to the nationalist group and had posted a photo of her on the web site with the headline, “Enemies Should Be Known by Face.”

Finnish authorities have placed Maglevannaya in a dormitory for refugees, she said.

Repeated calls to the Finnish Interior Ministry, which oversees requests for political asylum, went unanswered late Monday afternoon.

More than 15 Russian journalists covering political issues have requested asylum abroad since Vladimir Putin assumed power nine years ago, said Oleg Panfilov, director of the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations.

“They can’t stand the working conditions [in Russia],” Panfilov said.

Meanwhile, FinRosForum announces that a demonstration will be held on Helsinki’s Kirkkokatu today between 12.00 and 14.00 to protest against the policies of Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin, who is on an official visit to Finland.

See also: “Institutionalized Lawlessness”

Russian journalist seeks political asylum in Finland [FinRosForum]


Yelena Maglevannaya, Russian journalist working for the Volgograd-based newspaper Svobodnoe Slovo (Free Speech), has applied for political asylum in Finland. Ms Maglevannaya has collaborated with several human rights organisations in Russia. She has focused on cases of persecution against Chechens in particular.

Ms Maglevannaya has become the target of persecution herself after revealing facts about torture in Russian prisons. On 12 May 2009, she was found guilty of defamation and fined RUR 200,000 (EUR 4,600) after she released information about torture in a local prison. Ms Maglevannaya considers the sentence unjust, and has no intention to retract her articles.

Yelena Maglevannaya, 27, took part in the third annual conference of the Finnish-Russian Civic Forum, FINROSFORUM 2009, in Helsinki on 25-26 May 2009. Speaking on the second day of the conference, Ms Maglevannaya recounted the fate of Chechens held in Russian prisons, particularly that of Zubair Zubairaev, whose case she has championed.

Yelena Maglevannaya @ LiveJournal

Svobodnoe Slovo

See also in this blog: “Institutionalized lawlessness”: Russian journalist fined for prison reports

"Institutionalized lawlessness" – 2

OMCT (Organisation mondiale contre la torture) has released a follow-up appeal on the case of the torture and harassment in a Russian prison of the Chechen national Zubayr Zubayrayev, which has attracted attention worldwide. See also this post.

The International Secretariat of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

Russian Federation: Follow-up of case RUS 190209_Mr. Zubajr Isaevich Zubajraev to be transferred to a high security prison_Fear for safety

Case RUS 190209.3
Follow-up to cases RUS 190209, RUS 190209.1 and RUS 190209.2

Transfer to a high security prison/ Lack of adequate medical care/ Fear for safety
20 May 2009

The International Secretariat of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) has received new information and requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in the Russian Federation.

New information

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society (RCFS), a member of OMCT SOS-Torture Network, that on 17 May 2009, Mr. Zubajr Isaevich Zubajraev, a 30-year-old man from Chechnya, was taken from penitentiary colony ßÐ-154/15 (also known as LIU-125 prison hospital) in Volgograd, Southern Russia, to be transferred to a high security prison following a court ruling on 12 May 2009. However, his current whereabouts remain unclear. His lawyer believes that he is being moved to Krasnojarsk (about 4000km from Volgograd) but he has been provided with no precise information on Mr. Zubajraev’s new place of detention.

According to the same information, Mr. Zubajraev’s lawyer unsuccessfully brought an appeal to the Regional Court against the ruling of the lower Court. Mr. Zubajraev is reportedly due to serve his three years remaining prison term in a high security prison. OMCT recalls that the prison administration had justified the request of transfer on the basis of two claims: firstly, Mr. Zubajraev was accused of having kept “banned” pain-killers, which is contested by Mr. Zubajraev’s lawyer, and secondly, he would have quarrelled with another inmate, although the latter did not file any report or complaint about the alleged quarrel.

The OMCT International Secretariat is seriously concerned about the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Zubajr Isaevich Zubajraev. OMCT condemns his transfer to a high security prison as it seems exclusively motivated by a wish to punish him following the allegations of torture and other forms of ill-treatment (see background information)[1]. OMCT fears that Mr. Zubajraev will be further isolated as it will be become very difficult for his family and lawyer to visit him. Furthermore, OMCT has received information that his health condition is very poor, requiring immediate appropriate medical care.

OMCT therefore repeats its calls on the competent Russian authorities to guarantee his safety at all times, to refrain from transferring him to a high security prison, and to carry out a prompt, effective, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the allegations of torture and other forms of ill-treatment, in order to bring those responsible before a competent, independent and impartial tribunal and apply penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law. OMCT recalls the absolute prohibition of torture and other forms of ill-treatment and recalls article 11 of the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment stipulating that, “Each State Party shall keep under systematic review interrogation rules, instructions, methods and practices as well as arrangements for the custody and treatment of persons subjected to any form of arrest, detention or imprisonment in any territory under its jurisdiction, with a view to preventing any cases of torture”.

"Institutionalized lawlessness": Russian journalist fined for prison reports

elena maglevannaya Zubair Zubairayev In Yezhednevnyi zhurnal, Zoya Svetova writes that the Russian journalist Yelena Maglevannaya (photo) has been fined 200,000 roubles (6,238 USD) for causing “moral damage and to refute the information provided in the articles published on various sites”. The decision came from the Volgograd District Court, which found in favour of the authorities at the Volgograd prison where the Chechen national Zubair Zubairayev has been held and tortured (see photo). In her article, Svetova explains that she wrote a letter to Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov outlining the fate of Zubairayev, but received a reply from  Nurdi Nukhazhiyev, Chechnya’s human rights commissioner. In his letter to Svetova, Nukhazhiyev says that he knows of the problems faced by Chechen inmates in Russian prisons, but is powerless to take any action. He was in continuous contact with the federal authorities, including the Prosecutor General, about Zubairayev’s case throughout 2008.

In late April this year, a delegation of the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) made its eleventh visit since 2000 to the North Caucasian region of the Russian Federation. The delegation was led by  CPT president Mauro Palma, and held discussions with North Caucasus leaders, including Ramzan Kadyrov and members of his government. Zoya Svetova wonders why the subject of Zubairayev’s detention and torture was not raised at any of these meetings. She characterizes as “institutionalized lawness” the impunity with which the prison authorities and Russia’s FSIN (Federal Service for the Execution of Punishments) now act.

RFE/RL and the Khodorkovsky Centre have reports.

Zubair Zubairaev

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

Zubayrayev case – more

Oksana Chelysheva writes:

Dear Friends,

The court session on the suit filed against Elena Maglevannaya took place on 26 March 2009 at 14.00 in Kirovskiy district court of Volgograd. The suit was filed by the chief of the LIU-15 detention colony administration, A.I. Mansvetov.

The main hearing was postponed as the defendant appealed to present the video and photo footage taken by a special commission at the ombudsman of Volgograd region less than a year ago.

Those witnesses who don’t live in Volgograd were also questioned, including Zubayraev’s lawyer, Musa Khadisov and two Chechen HRDs from the Human Rights Center at office of the Chechen ombusdman, Rosa Shamieva and Madina Astamirova.

The judge didn’t satisfy the appeal to bring Zubayraev to give his testimony in court.

The day before the court session Musa Khadisov had a meeting with Zubayraev. During the court session he gave a detailed description of signs of torture on his body: feet with nail wounds going through, a screw in one of his knees, the wound on the head.

Shamieva and Astamirova stated some of the facts from the previous service of V.D Deripasko, the acting chair of the LIU-15 colony. He served in Chernokozovo detention center in the 2nd war campaign in Chechnya. Dogs were set on people on his orders, according to their testimonies.

Written testimony of Zubayraev was also presented to the court.

The next court session has been scheduled for April 7. Witnesses residing in Volgograd are going to be questioned.

The judge also stated that she is going to bring owners of the websites where Maglevannaya’s articles were published as co-defendants.

Best regards,


Zubayrayev case – further developments

Jeremy Putley writes:

The latest information is that a human rights activist – one of the few incredibly brave individuals who investigate and report on such cases – called Yelena Maglevannaya has been arraigned on charges under article 152 of the Russian Civil Code (honour and business reputation protection), accusing Yelena of spreading information on Zubair Zubayrayev in order to destroy their good name. The first court hearing has been scheduled for March 26, Thursday, and it will be held in the Kirovsky district court of Volgograd before Judge Asatiani.

We await the verdict of the court with interest. Will the court order an investigation of the serious and credible allegations of the torture and other maltreatment of Mr Zubayrayev? Or will Yelena Maglevannaya be found guilty as charged, and sentenced to some form of punishment under what passes for justice in Volgograd these days?

See this post