Person of the Week: Zhalaudi Geriev

posted 3 Jan 2017, 03:42 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 3 Jan 2017, 03:47 ]
On 28 December 2016 the Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic upheld the conviction of Caucasian Knot journalist Zhalaudi Geriev. As Caucasian Knot reported, on 5 September at a trial at Shali district court in Chechnya, Geriev was sentenced to three years in a prison colony on charges of possessing marijuana. At the trial, Geriev had rejected the prosecution's charges and stated that he had testified under pressure. Responding to the verdict, Tanya Lokshina, Russia program director at Human Rights Watch, stated 'We have no doubt that Geriev is being punished for his work as a journalist and hope that justice will prevail on appeal.' On 26 December 2016, the Investigative Committee had announced that the information about the kidnapping and use of violence against Zhalaudi Geriev had not been 'confirmed'. 

On 6 September 2016 Human Rights Watch stated in a report on the case: 'Chechen police detained Geriev, 23, on the morning of April 16. The journalist told the court that three armed men dragged him out of a shuttle bus en route from the town of Kurchaloi to Grozny, Chechnya’s capital, from which he intended to travel on to Moscow for work-related purposes. The assailants entered the shuttle bus, hit him on his head, and dragged him into their car, a black Priora sedan, he said. They took away his two phones and his backpack with his identification documents, a laptop, and other personal belongings, tied his hands with wire, and drove him to a forest 35 kilometers from Grozny, in the Kurchaloi district of Chechnya. Geriev’s kidnappers questioned him in the forest for another 30 to 40 minutes, asking him about his work, threatening him, and insinuating he was “on the run” to join ISIS. Then, another man arrived in a Priora vehicle, pulled a plastic bag tightly over Geriev’s head, took it off when Geriev was about to suffocate, and finally drove off, taking Geriev’s backpack with him. Then, Geriev’s kidnappers took him to a cemetery on the outskirts of the town of Kurchaloi. They had him officially “detained” there and taken into police custody supposedly with a large package of marijuana in his backpack, forcing him to sign a confession stating the drugs in his backpack belonged to him. Geriev withdrew his confession during his trial in the Shali District Court of Chechnya, alleging that it was false and made under duress. The court failed to consider his allegations. Following a trial in which little if any evidence beyond his retracted confession was introduced, the court found Geriev guilty of “possession of banned substances in large quantities”.' 

Photo: Zhalaudi Geriev, Moscow 2014. © 2014 Magomed Tuaev for Caucasian Knot, via Human Rights Watch

'Court examines investigators' refusal to open case on Geriev's kidnapping,' Caucasian Knot, 26 December 2016
'Chechnya's Supreme Court upholds verdict on Geriev,' Caucasian Knot, 28 December 2016
'Legal Case of the Week: Zhalaudi Geriev,' Rights in Russia, 12 September 2016
Source: 'Russia: Journalist Punished for Chechnya Reporting. Sweeping Pre-Election Crackdown,' Human Rights Watch, 6 September, 2016