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The Investigative Committee refused to initiate criminal proceedings with regard to abduction of 1Adat Telegram channel moderator

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28 October 2020
Two persons involved in Salman Tepsurkayev’s abduction were filmed by a video camera

The Chechen investigators dismissed a claim to open a criminal case with regard the abduction of the 1Adat Telegram-channel chat moderator Salman Tepsurkayev, referring to absence of a criminal act. Previously, the Krasnodar investigators refused to open a criminal case, either, having submitted the materials of the check to their colleagues from the Chechen Republic. The lawyers with the Committee Against Torture will be appealing against this ruling.

As we previously reported, on 6 September 2020, Salman Tepsurkayev was abducted in Gelendzhik. He was a chat moderator of 1Adat Telegram channel which informs about violations of human rights in the Chechen Republic. Witnesses report that the abductors presented their IDs of the Ministry of the Interior officers. For twenty-four hours there was no information about the fate of Salman. But in the evening of 7 September, his phone was turned on again and the relatives managed to obtain his geolocation data, according to which Salman’s phone was on the territory of regiment of the Patrol-Guard Service of the Police named after Akhmat Kadyrov located in Grozny.

On the same day, 7 September, a person under nickname “Hunter” published a video in the chat of 1Adat Telegram-channel, in which Salman Tepsurkayev curses himself and his channel in the Chechen language, after that he attempts to sit on a glass bottle.

On 11 September, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture submitted an application to the ECHR with regard to the violation of Tepsurkayev’s rights, provided by Articles 3 and 5 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms: “prohibition of torture” and ‘right to personal integrity”. Human rights defenders requested that the Court applied “Rule 39” and demanded from the Russian Federation to take provisional measures to establish the whereabouts of Tepsurkayev, as well as to ensure the guarantee of his release and safety.

According to the information, published on the website of the Ministry of Justice of Russia, on 22 October, the European Court of Human Rights dismissed the application submitted by human rights defenders. Lawyers with the Committee Against Torture haven’t yet received the text of the ECHR ruling, that is why its motivation is not known.

On 14 September, human rights defenders applied with crime reports on behalf of Salman Tepsurkayev’s wife to the Investigative Committee of Russia for the Chechen Republic and to the Investigative Department for Gelendzhik of the Investigative Committee of Russia for the Krasnodar Territory.

In addition, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture conducted their own public investigation, during which they managed to obtain convincing evidence of the law-enforcement bodies’ involvement in Tepsurkayev’s disappearance. Human rights defenders provided the investigators with a video record which features Tepsurkayev’s abduction process, as well as the data on vehicles and the abductors who were filmed by the video camera at the place of the incident. In the course of public investigation, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture managed to find out that one of the cars belongs to the acting police officer from Chechnya.

On 15 October, investigators from the Krasnodar Territory made a decision to hand over the evidence that they collected to the Investigative Department for Chechnya due to the fact that the car of Tepsurkayev’s assumed abductors crossed the boundary of the Chechen Republic. On the same day, on 15 October, the investigator with the Chechen Investigative Department dismissed the claim to open a criminal case referring to absence of a criminal act. Human rights defenders received a notification about this ruling yesterday, on 27 October.

“At the present time we received only the notification on dismissal of the claim to open a criminal case without a detailed motivation, – head of the North Caucasus branch with the Committee Against Torture Dmitry Piskounov comments. – In the vast majority of the cases the investigative authorities pass such rulings referring to absence of qualifying crime attributes in the actions of the police officers. And in the Tepsurkayev's case the investigator decided that the criminal act was not present as such. But in order to come to such a conclusion, the investigator had to receive a confirmed information on Salman Tepsurkayev’s whereabouts: either to question him in person, or his relatives, who would tell that they knew Salman’s whereabouts. Definitely, right after we receive the text of the dismissal, we shall appeal against it".