Week-ending 2 October 2020
On 26 September Human Rights Watch published a statement by nine Russian and international human rights organisations condemning the abduction and torture of Salman Tepsurkaev, moderator of the chat telegram-channel 1ADAT which publishes critical information about developments in Chechnya, whose whereabouts remains unknown. The organisations called on the Russian authorities to determine his whereabouts and to bring those guilty of the violence against him to justice.
The full text of the statement is below:
On September 7, 2020, a video was circulated on social media depicting the torture of a 19-year-old man from Chechen, Salman Tepsurkaev. The young man was the moderator of the chat telegram-channel 1ADAT, which publishes critical information about developments in Chechnya. Later it became known that Tepsurkaev was abducted from a hotel in Gelendzhik (Russia’s Krasnodar region) and taken to Chechnya, where he was then stripped naked and forced, on camera, to penetrate himself with a glass bottle. Subsequently, Chechen government officials, and even the mufti of Chechnya, publicly endorsed the violence committed against Tepsurkaev. Meanwhile, Tepsurkaev’s whereabouts remain unknown.
We, the undersigned, express our outrage at these developments, and urge the authorities of the Russian Federation to immediately determine the whereabouts of Salman Tepsurkaev, and punish those guilty of the violence against him.
We request the Russian investigative authorities to respond to the following questions:
- Is there a criminal investigation underway into Salman Tepsurkaev’s disappearance and the violence committed against him?
- What is being done specifically to find this individual?
- Why has no one involved in numerous crimes against other critics of the Chechen authorities been identified or punished?
We express our solidarity with the people in Chechnya who are outraged by this monstrous crime and feel that their security and safety are in jeopardy.
Violations of human rights in Chechnya are becoming uglier and more brutal, and we call upon the Russian government to immediately put an end to the reigning impunity there, and to take all measures to hold the perpetrators to account.
Signatories of the statement are:
Svetlana Gannushkina, Chair, “Civic Assistance” Committee; Igor Kalyapin, Chair, Committee Against Torture; Igor Kochetkov, Director of the Charitable Fund for Social and Legal Assistance “Sphere”; Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director, Regional Office, Europe and Central Asia, Amnesty International; Tanya Lokshina, Europe and Central Asia Associate Director, Human Rights Watch; Anders Peterson, Executive Director, Civil Right Defenders Ekaterina Sokiryanskaya, Director, Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention; Alexander Cherkasov, Chair of the Board, Human Rights Center “Memorial”; Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal, Acting Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee
Sources: ‘Statement by Russian and International Human Rights Organizations on the Case of Salman Tepsurkaev,’ Human Rights Watch, 26 September 2020; ‘Russian Authorities Must Investigate the Abduction and Torture of Young Chechen Man,’ Civil Rights Defenders, 29 September 2020
On Tuesday, 29 September 2020, Caucasian Knot reported: ‘Since early September, 53 people have been kidnapped in Chechnya, of whom at least one was killed and 20 others were released, reported the movement “1Adat”, for cooperation with which Salman Tepsurkaev was humiliated. The “Caucasian Knot” has reported that the movement “1Adat” continued its activities after the kidnapping of Salman Tepsurkaev, who for some time worked as a moderator of a chat on the “1Adat” Telegram channel. The number of the Telegram channel’s followers has tripled due to the public outcry.’
The same day Caucasian Knot also reported: ‘The Russian investigating bodies are to identify and find the persons responsible for the violence used against Chechen resident Salman Tepsurkaev, to find the very young man, and to investigate other crimes against critics of the authorities of Chechnya, members of nine human rights organizations declare. The “Caucasian Knot” has reported that on September 7, in Chechnya, and then beyond the republic, a wide public outcry was provoked by a video in which a naked man, who introduced himself as Salman Tepsurkaev, was sitting on a bottle with explanations that he was doing that as punishment for his cooperation with the opposition “1ADAT” Telegram channel. The channel’s authors are sure that the moderator of their chat, Salman Tepsurkaev, was kidnapped and publicly humiliated by the Chechen law enforcers. Today, the statement prepared by the Russian and international human rights organizations concerning the Salman Tepsurkaev’s case, addressed to the Russian authorities, has been posted on the website of the human rights organization “Human Rights Watch” (HRW).’