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'What will happen in Dzhalka is hard to say' - interview with Igor Kalyapin (Mediazona)

posted 30 Mar 2015, 00:01 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 30 Mar 2015, 00:11 ]
25 March 2015

Interview with Igor Kalyapin, head of the Committee Against Torture, on aspects of the investigation into the murder of Boris Nemtsov by Maria Klimova 

Source: Mediazona

On Wednesday investigators established the whereabouts of the company commander of the ‘North’ battalion, Ruslan Geremeev, whose probable involvement in organizing Boris Nemtsov’s murder has been cited by sources close to the investigation. According to Rosbalt, Geremeev is in Chechnya, in Dzhalka – the birthplace of the Duma deputy Adam Delimkhanov. All approaches to the village are guarded by armed individuals. Mediazona asked Igor Kalyapin, who heads the NGO Committee against Torture and has long observed the confrontation between federal and Chechen security forces, how this situation might be resolved:

“There’s the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation. According to the law, it is not Aleksandr Bastrykin, whom you might imagine to be in charge of its activities, but the president of the Russian Federation. That is – Vladimir Putin. I can assure you that if comrade Geremeev is needed by the Investigative Committee, he will be detained and brought to Moscow where General Igor Krasnov, who heads the group investigating the murder of Boris Nemtsov, will lead the investigation.

“If Delimkhanov’s ancestral village is at present being guarded – it’s simply bravado, a show. The situation would be simply resolved by a phone call from someone at the right level, nothing more than that. But that’s the way those in positions of authority in Chechnya think today: it’s important for the republican leadership to show how tough they are. So, some general or other, Krasnov, wants to get our man and take him to Moscow. We need to show that we don’t take orders from such as Krasnov. Chechen security forces don’t think of themselves as part of the national law and order agencies, they identify themselves only with their immediate leadership or with Ramzan Kadyrov. That’s their way of thinking.

“I have observed similar behaviour by the security forces in Chechnya in other cases, it’s true in less significant ones. The Committee against Torture is still involved in the case of Islam Umarpashaev, who reported that he was detained for four months at their base by Chechen special police forces. His case, of course, was not handled by Krasnov, Bastrykin’s personal investigator, but by a fully-fledged colonel, investigator of particularly serious cases Igor Sobol.

“During the course of the investigation, fairly straightforward investigative actions had to be carried out – visit the base of the Chechen special police forces and check the evidence of Umarpashaev at the scene. Check the layout of the rooms, the toilet, the bathhouse, where he was taken. In other words, the usual investigative activities. There was no intention of detaining or arresting anyone. But, all the same, the commander of these special police forces, Alikhan Tsakaev, a colonel of the Interior Ministry in the Chechen republic, declared to Colonel Sobol that if the investigative group attempted to enter the base, he would give the order to open fire, and this was said in the presence of the leader of the Chechen Investigative Committee and of the head of the republic’s Ministry of the Interior. His statement was interspersed with the crudest swear words, which I shall not repeat here. He tried to seize hold of Sobol across the table, swore, that’s what his behavior was like. A high-ranking police official, a general, who the following day received an instruction to accompany the investigative group, refused to send his people on to the base because he did not want his soldiers to come under fire.

“A few days later the same situation arose in the October district police department in the city of Grozny. We were simply refused entry. The guard made ready the bolt on his automatic rifle and said ‘Clear off!’ That was it. Requests made at a higher level had no effect. And no one paid the slightest attention to the fact that, according to the law, an investigative group has the right to go, unobstructed, wherever is necessary.

“Such a state of things, sadly, has long existed in Chechnya. The regional authorities there, particularly the local police, feel themselves to be an independent state within a state. What’s the Investigative Committee, or some Krasnov or other, to them!

“What will happen in Dzhalka is hard to say. If I were in investigator Krasnov’s shoes, I would go to Bastrykin, so that he in his turn would go to Vladimir Putin for help. The situation as regards Geremeev, in my view, is of interest in that it demonstrates very well the relation between the authorities in Chechnya and the federal authorities. That is – this relationship depends exclusively on a single individual – Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.

“Chechnya is Vladimir Vladimirovich’s private domain. If, God forbid, something were to happen to the president tomorrow, the question would quickly arise – is Chechnya part of Russia or not?

“Today the issue is not one of confrontation between Chechnya and Moscow, it’s how to deliver a particular individual to the investigative authorities, and this has provoked a show of force. Probably, the person who could resolve the problem is Putin, who could do it with a simple gesture of the hand.

“If he does, then everyone will straightaway know how to act. But the situation shows that without Putin there is deadlock. In Chechnya no one recognizes the laws or authority of other people from outside the republic.”

Transated by Mary McAuley