The Russian Federation representative Mikhail Galperin answered to the questions of the European Court concerning the abduction of the 1Adat Telegram-channel chat moderator Salman Tepsurkayev. According to Galperin, the Russian investigators established that Tepsurkayev was not apprehended or brought to any Chechen law-enforcement body. However, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture managed to find the evidence of the Chechen law-enforcement bodies’ involvement in Salman Tepsurkayev’s abduction. Human rights defenders continue to insist on application of “Rule 39”.
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.
On 14 September, the European Court replied that in order to apply “Rule 39” it is necessary to obtain additional materials on this case from human rights defenders and from the state, which would confirm the fact of Salman’s abduction, his transportation to the territory of the regiment of the Police Patrol-Guard Service named after Akhmat Kadyrov, as well as the fact of applications by human rights defenders to law-enforcement bodies with the report on the crime committed against Tepsurkayev.
The ECHR posed the Russian authorities questions on whether Salman was abducted, subjected to torture, whether there is there any official investigation ongoing with regard to this, as well as with regard to the video where Salman is performing self-torture, whether the Russian authorities are aware of Salman’s whereabouts, if he was officially apprehended, then, for what reason and for what duration, and whether he has an opportunity to see the relatives and his lawyer.
On the same day, 14 September, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture applied with a crime report concerning Salman Tepsurkayev’s enforced disappearance to the Investigative Committee. 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 30 September, Representative of the Russian Federation at the European Court of Human Rights Mikhail Galperin informed the European Court of Human Rights that the law-enforcement bodies did not apprehend Salman Tepsurkayev. According to him, in the course of the check the investigative authorities established that Tepsurkayev was not apprehended or subjected to brutal treatment by authorities’ representatives or third parties. Galperin informed that the investigators questioned Tepsurkayev’s father and some of this relatives, and a number of requests has been submitted, including a request to perform an inspection of the territory of Regiment No.2 of the Patrol-Guard Service of the Police named after Akhmat Kadyrov.
“We managed to obtain the video records which can be used for identifying Salman’s abductors, as well as the persons involved in his abduction, – head of the North Caucasus branch of the Committee Against Torture Dmitry Piskounov comments. – The men who abducted Salman, came in two vehicles: Toyota Camri with number plate В458ТН and Lada Priora with number plate А969УЕ, which are registered in the Chechen Republic. We managed to establish their owners, one of them is an active police officer. We also found out that shortly before the abduction Salman received a call from the District Officer of Police Department No.1 of the Department of the Interior of Russia for Grozny. This information is handed over to the investigation, however, there has not been any feedback to our motions. We cannot consider the explanations of the Russian authorities to be convincing and continue to insist on applying “Rule 39”.