29 November 2007, 20:49

From the Conflict Zone

Issue prepared in Nazran

November 29, 2007

Tangieva v. Russia


On November 29, 2007, European Court for Human Rights has made a decision on the case of Tangieva vs. Russia (Tangieva v.Russia, №57935/00).

The applicant, Zajnap Abdul-Vagapovna Tangieva and her family lived in Grozny. The second military campaign was launched in Chechnya in October 1999, and Grozny was subjected to intense fire. The applicant together with family members stayed in their house in Grozny. In December 1999, several neighbors joined them in their family house because there was a big cellar to hide during aerial attacks.

The Staropromyslovsky district where they lived was for the first time subjected to intense bombing on November 22, 1999, during which one of the women-neighbor was killed. The same day mother of the applicant received a light splinter injury. Subsequently, aerial attacks intensified, therefore the applicant and her family were not able to leave the city.

On December 23, 1999, the aerial attacks became so strong that the people who stayed in the house decided to go to a more secure place. On December 26, 1999 most of them, including the applicant, moved to a big cellar in a block of flats nearby. The elderly parents of the applicant - Abdul-Vagap Tangiev and Khirzan Gadaborsheva, her uncle Gadaborshev Ismail and a neighbor -Valentina Fateeva stayed in the family house to look after cattle and property.  

On December 26, 1999, tanks arrived to the neighborhood and in the morning of December 27, 1999 the father of the applicant met a group of Russian military servicemen and informed them that a group of 40-45 civilians was living in the cellar. Military servicemen checked the identity documents of all men, then they occupied positions in the neighboring houses.

Between January 3 and 10, 2000, the applicant every day visited her parents and uncle remaining in their family house. While at home she several times witnessed the same officer who arrived always drunk, aggressive and threatened to shoot them dead. The father of the applicant managed to pacify him somehow.

On January 10, 2000, the applicant, her relatives and some neighbors decided to leave Grozny the next morning. The applicant and her sister went to get water from the nearby building of former hostel, where OMON units were stationed and she warned the officers that there were elderly people remaining in the cellar and asked not to subject their house to fire and not to shoot at the elderly if they went to bring water.

In the morning of January 11, 2000, the applicant, her sister and  three other women who planned to leave Grozny went to the family house of the applicant to take their uncle with them and to say farewell to her parents. Having reached the house they realized that the gates were closed and smoke was coming from one of the houses. They called their parents by names, but no one responded, so they opened the gates from the backyard. They saw the cellar burning. In the kitchen they found the dead body of the applicant's father - Abdul-Vagap Tangiev with bullet injuries and the body of Valentina Fateeva. Khirzhan Gadaborsheva and Ismail Gadaborshev were also found dead in the burning cellar.

The applicant and her sister took the two bodies out of the burning house and wanted to bury them. Their neighbor, however, told them to leave immediately, as the murderers were still in the neighborhood and they could return. He promised to bury the bodies himself. The applicant and her sister left for Ingushetia by bus.

The next day, on January 12, 2000 the applicant returned to Grozny with two cars to take the bodies. At one of the checkpoints they asked three military servicemen to accompany them. Near the house they met the neighbor who explained that he had buried the father. The house had already burnt to the ground. They exhumed the body of the father, and took it for burial at the family cemetery.

All attempts of the applicant to convince authorities to carry out due investigation were ineffective. The applicant told the investigating agencies about the officer who threatened to kill them, but she was told that there were no witnesses to the murder and therefore she could be held responsible for false accusations.

In her application to European Court Zainap Tangieva claimed that her rights stipulated by article 2 of the European Convention regarding right to life and effective investigation of murder of their parents have been violated. She also claimed that loss of her parents and necessity to forcefully migrate, as well as fear and grief inflicted on her constituted violation of article 3 of European Convention (degrading treatment).

On May 18, 2006 European Court for Human Rights communicated the application. On November 29, 2007 the European Court:

  • Held unanimously that there has been a violation of Article 2 of the Convention in respect of the failure to conduct an effective investigation into the circumstances of the deaths of Abdul-Vagap Tangiyev, Khidzhan Gadaborsheva and Ismail Gadaborshev;
  • Held by 5 votes to 2 that there has been a violation of Article 2 of the Convention in respect of the killing of three members of the applicant's family;
  • Held unanimously that there has been no violation of Article 3 of the Convention in respect of the applicant;
  • Held unanimously that there has been a violation of Article 13 of the Convention in conjunction with Article 2 of the Convention;
  • Held unanimously that there has been a failure to comply with Article 38 1 (a) of the Convention.

Source: Memorial Human Rights Center (Moscow, Russia)

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