Person of the Week: Khusein Betelgeriev

posted 18 Apr 2016, 02:16 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 18 Apr 2016, 02:19 ]
On 11 April 2016 Chechen poet and singer, Khusein Betelgeriev, a member of the Union of Writers of Russia and formerly a teacher at the Chechen State University (from where he retired a year ago), had returned home, apparently having been severely beaten. As Caucasian Knot reports, Khusein Betelgeriev's family had said earlier that he had been taken from his family home in the Kalinin district of Grozny by 'two unidentified men dressed in black uniforms' on 31 March 2016. Caucasian Knot has said that Khusein Betelgeriev's wife, Karima Betelgerieva, filed a complaint about the disappearance of her husband to the police on 2 April. Two days later, on 4 April, she complained that no investigative actions had been carried out.

Tanya Lokshina, Russia Program Manager with Human Rights Watch, has written: 'From what we know, Betelgeriev’s captors and torturers were Chechen law enforcement officials. He was punished for not praising the ruthless head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, and for expressing himself freely on social media about a broad range of issues, including by mourning the loss of Chechnya’s short-lived independence. His free thinking and lack of servility also seem to have something to do with his sudden dismissal last year from Grozny University, where he had been teaching French for years.'

Caucasian Knot points out that last December Khizir Ezhiev, a teacher at the Grozny State Technical University, was kidnapped and his body subsequently found on January 1 in the forest in the outskirt of the village of Roshni-Chu, Urus-Martan District of the republic. Tanya Lokshina also refers to the cases of Chechen social commentators Aslambek Didiev and Rizvan Ibraghimov who disappeared around the same time as Betelgeriev and in very similar circumstances: 'They appeared on Chechen television several days later humbly apologizing for their “flawed” theories and publications. Several months earlier, an ordinary middle-aged woman who dared complain about extortion by local officials was forced to apologize to Ramzan Kadyrov on television for her supposed “lies.” Around the same time, a video surfaced of a young Chechen blogger who had made some critical comments about local and federal authorities. In the video, he was half naked, begging forgiveness.'

Tanya Lokshina concludes: 'These and other similar cases send a clear signal to Chechen society: Keep your mouth shut except to exhibit your utmost devotion. If not, get ready to be publicly humiliated, hurt, beaten, and even “disappeared.” '

Photo: Caucasian Knot

'Relatives of Hussein Betelgeriev state his kidnapping in Grozny,' Caucasian Knot, 3 April 2016
'Khusein Betelgeriev returns home beaten,' Caucasian Knot, 12 April 2016
Tanya Lokshina, 'Dispatches: The Price of Dissent in Chechnya,' Human Rights Watch, 13 April 2016