Memorial Human Rights Centre considers Chechen journalist Zhalaudi Geriev [Geriyev] a political prisoner

posted 20 Oct 2016, 13:12 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 20 Oct 2016, 13:24 ]
17 October 2016


On September 5, 2016, the Shalin town court in the Republic of Chechnya sentenced Zhalaudi Geriev [Geriyev], a journalist for the website Kavkazkii uzel (“Caucasian Knot”), to three years’ imprisonment under Article 228.2 of the Criminal Code (illegal possession and transport, without intent to sell, of large quantities of drugs). 

According to the prosecution, he supposedly gathered and kept wild hemp, and on the morning of April 16, 2016 he was arrested with a large plastic bag of marijuana at the village cemetery in Shalin, where he supposedly was planning to consume the marijuana. However, on the morning of April 16, Zhalaudi checked in online for a flight from Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, to Moscow. He was headed to the Grozny airport when, as eyewitnesses recalled, armed people forcibly dragged him from the bus, hit him in the head, and shoved him into their car.

According to Geriev, they took him into a forest, bound his hands with wire, beat him, prevented him from breathing, and threatened to shoot him. The journalist was accused of working against the Chechen authorities, questioned about his journalistic activities, and forced to admit to possessing marijuana. In court he denied these admissions.

Evidence against the journalist was given only by the siloviki (security forces) themselves, and by their “regular witnesses,” one of whom had previously been twice convicted and accused of a third criminal action, which speaks to his lack of independence from the organs of power. Simultaneously, the court deemed the evidence of witnesses to the reporter’s abduction invalid without proper justification and investigation.

Kavkazkii uzel is widely known for its materials on human rights violations in Chechnya.

Memorial Human Rights Centre (Moscow) is certain that Zhalaudi Geriev suffered as a result of his professional activity as a journalist with the news site. Chechen authorities have repeatedly expressed their displeasure with the portal’s publications.

Memorial considers Zhalaudi Geriev a political prisoner and demands his immediate release.

In anticipation of the consideration of an appeal of the conviction, Memorial urges the signing of a petition.

Zhalaudi Geriev’s family is in need of material help. His sister Zulikhan Dardailova’s card number in the Moscow Industrial Bank, to which funds may be transferred, is 4809 3837 3703 7619.

Recognizing a person as a political prisoner indicates neither Memorial’s agreement with the views and statements of those deemed political prisoners, nor approval of their statements or actions.

Memorial Human Rights Centre, Moscow

Translated by Caroline Elkin