Declaration by Memorial and Moscow Helsinki Group to the Russian Investigative Committee concerning statements by Ramzan Kadyrov.

posted 1 Dec 2019, 07:24 by Translation Service   [ updated 1 Dec 2019, 07:43 ]
22 November 2019

Pictured: Moscow Helsinki Group Co-Chair Vyacheslav Bakhmin

To A.I. Bastrykin, Chair of the Russian Federation Investigatory Committee.

2, Tekhnichesky Lane, Moscow, 105005

In accordance with the authority vested in you, we write to request that you order an inspection to be conducted, in accordance with the procedure established by the Russian Federation Criminal-Procedural Code, and the question decided as to the existence of grounds for opening a criminal case in connection with the following circumstances. 

On 5 November 2019, Grozny ChGTRK [Chechen State Television and Radio Company] aired a statement by the head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Akhmatovich Kadyrov, at a session of the Government of the Chechen Republic.

In his speech in the Chechen language, R.A. Kadyrov, taking advantage of his official position, made statements inciting hatred and hostility toward journalists and human rights activists who publish reports on human rights violations in the Chechen Republic and also toward users of the Internet and social networks who post critical comments addressed to the above-mentioned authorities. He [Kadyrov] publicly called for them to be stopped “by killing them, putting them behind bars, doing whatever it takes.” According to R. Kadyrov, associates of the police and special service and heads of districts and settlements should be brought in to carry out these criminal actions. We are attaching a translation into Russian of this portion of the statements by the Chechen Republic at the session of the Chechen government.

Subsequently, R.A. Kadyrov attempted to justify his statements by referring to adats (customary law) and by saying that in ordinary communication the promise to kill is merely an image, a figure of speech that should not be taken literally. These self-justifications do not stand up to any criticism, first, because the head of the Chechen Republic uttered the above-cited words not in an ordinary conversation but at a session of the Republic's government. Second, in addressing the official persons sitting before him, R. Kadyrov called on them to involve police officers and officials in criminal activity.

With these statements, the head of the Chechen Republic publicly undermined the authority of organs of republic and federal authorities and demonstrated his disdain for the country’s laws, constitutional principles, and democratic values.

We perceive these words as a direct threat that could have serious consequences for the life, health, and safety of all those who speak out critically against the authorities of the Chechen Republic. Similar statements by Chechen government officials in the past have led more than once to the commission of serious crimes.

In the conditions created over the last fifteen years in the Chechen Republic, R. Kadyrov’s public statements are understood by his subordinates as a direct order to act. Calls for lawlessness emanating from the very top are picked up on by subordinates. There are many armed people in the republic prepared to carry out any, even absolutely illegal instructions issued by its head. For these people, it is not even mandatory to have a direct order. In the atmosphere of fear and servility reigning in the Chechen Republic, people will always be found who will decide to carry out the wish of the top level and to cripple or kill a person this top level finds inconvenient and unpleasant.


R.A. Kadyrov’s statements at a session of the government of the Chechen Republic contain the hallmarks of the following crimes:

Article 282, Section 2, of the Russian Criminal Code (actions aimed at inciting hatred or hostility based on belonging to some social group, actions committed publicly, including involving the use of means of mass information or information-telecommunications networks, the use of one’s official position, the threat of the application of violence);

Article 285, Section 2, of the Russian Criminal Code (abuse of official powers, that is, the use by an individual holding a state position in the Russian Federation of their official powers against the interests of his service, if this act is committed out of some other personal interest and entails a substantial violation of the rights and legal interests of citizens or organizations or the interests of society or the state that are protected by law);

Article 286, Section 3, of the Russian Criminal Code (exceeding of official powers, that is, the commission by an individual occupying a state position in the Russian Federation of actions that manifestly exceed the bounds of their powers and have entailed a substantial violation of the rights and legal interests of citizens or organizations or else the interests of society or the state protected by law that are committed with the threat of the application of violence).

We request that an inquiry be conducted into the presence in the actions of R.A. Kadyrov of evidence of the said crimes and that a decision be taken in accordance with Articles 144-145 of the Russian Criminal Code.

22 November 2019

A.V. Cherkasov, Chair of the Board of the Memorial Center

O.P. Orlov, member of the Board of the Memorial Human Rights Centre

V.I. Bakhmin, V.V. Borshchev, and D.A. Makarov, Co-Chairs of the Moscow Helsinki Group

Translated by Marian Schwartz