09 March 2012, 15:00

Open letter of Magomed Mutsolgov, head of the human rights organization "Mashr" (Ingushetia)

On March 3, 2012, in the city of Malgobek, Tsechoev, Akhmetgiri Sultanovich, born in 1956, was killed. Seven years ago, Akhmetgiri Tsechoev, a military officer, a retired colonel of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, really was one of the founders of the human rights organization "Mashr". In early 2007, under the pressure of the authorities, he quitted the ranks of the founders of our organization; and since then he had nothing to do with us, he did not. Along with him, the second co-founder of the organization Boris Ozdoev, a retired merited judge and the father of Rashid Ozdoev, the kidnapped senior assistant of the Prosecutor of the Republic of Ingushetia, was forced to withdraw from the founders. Rashid Ozdoev was in charge of supervising the activities of the FSB. In the end of 2006, they both were exposed to the pressure of the authorities, when we tried to organize and conduct in Nazran a picket in memory of the murdered journalist Anna Politkovskaya. Then, in early 2007, we underwent re-registration in accordance with the order, established by the law and made appropriate changes to the articles of incorporation. If the March 3 casualty really was Akhmetgiri Tsechoev, we express our condolences to his family and friends; he was a good and decent man.

Before his retirement, Akhmetgiri Tsechoev worked in one of military commissariats. As far as I know, in recent years, the military officer and a retired colonel, was making his earnings as a private taxi driver. The fact that his name is associated with the name of some assassinated suspected militant, can only be considered as a form of pressure and discrediting of the human rights organization "Mashr". Besides, the murdered Akhmetgiri Tsechoev is accused without evidences, after his murder, knowing that he will not be able to say a word in his defence.

It should not be interpreted otherwise than a link in the chain of actions of pressure on the human rights organization "Mashr". The employees of our organization have been repeatedly, unlawfully and unnecessarily subjected to harassment on the part of individual law enforcers, beaten and tortured. In the summer of 2008, Zurab Tsechoev was kidnapped from his house and exposed to refined torture. For five hours in captivity, they broke his arm and leg, beat off his internal organs and injured his backbone, while numerous bruises and abrasions on his body were countless. After that, the beaten and mangled Zurab was thrown out of the car near the city of Magas. Other employees of our organization were also persecuted; their homes were repeatedly searched; physical and psychological pressure was applied to them. Some employees were forced to resign from our organization and to leave the republic. My family has also been subjected to persecution, I suffered from several attempts; and several times they unsuccessfully tried to kidnap me; my relatives were dismissed; and the pension of my parents was subjected to verification for the validity of its payment. No crimes committed against employees of our organization have ever been investigated; while the perpetrators were not only subjected to just punishment, but even not established so far. The checks conducted in relation to these crimes have always ended in requests of law enforcers to close them and not to raise noise around them. And after the assassination attempts and threats, both president of our republic really offered to ensure my protection, but in such conditions any bodyguards could suffer; and I could not afford this.

In the spring of 2008, Rustam Mutsolgov was killed; a year before his murder he had worked for six months as a driver in our organization – and we never concealed this fact. We do not hide other facts, such as, for example, that relatives of several employees of our organization had been kidnapped by power agents, who were directly linked with the FSB.

In view of all the above facts, our organization has set up our priorities and strictly adheres to all the applicable legislation of the Russian Federation. Despite the arbitrariness of individual law enforcers, who are engaged – in violation of all the norms of the current federal and international laws – in kidnappings, extrajudicial killings, beatings and torture of their detainees, we have chosen to follow the law. At the same time, we realize that we have no room for error; otherwise we would never be forgiven. Our organization is constantly audited, inspected and checked by the bodies of state power. In accordance with the applicable law, we observe all the deadlines and forms of accountability established in the Russian Federation. In simple terms, we and our activities are completely open and clean before the law. We also know that all the documentation that gets into any controlling and supervising state agency is copied and sent for further checks to security services. For seven years, we have been able to work only because the security services are sure by 100 percent – in spite of the biased attitude and special monitoring – that there are no violations of the applicable law in our activities. Speaking of funding, which we have been reproached of, I can state that we get it on a tender basis from foreign nongovernmental organizations, which is not only contrary to the current legislation, but is directly permitted. For more than 15 years our country, Russia, have lived and existed, among other things, on foreign money; and the amount of the country's external debt makes dizzying sums. Today, the government reports and rejoices, when the country is attracting foreign capitals (investments). Obviously, all the speculations around the issue of funding sources are nothing but a cheap attempt to discredit our organization; and this attempt has been clearly ordered by someone.

There is no doubt about the existence of direct links between the recent events and the checks of the work of the human rights organization "Mashr" carried out earlier. Somebody is very much concerned about the fact that the organization attracts public attention to the arbitrary and illegal actions of those who must comply with the law stricter and more precisely than all the others.

During the recent period of time, our organization and some of its employees are under intense pressure, which is embodied in the increased attention of law enforcement bodies, numerous illegal and unjustified inspections, shadowing of our people by cars with tinted windows bur without state license plates. The police officers, who visit our organization, are interested in the video surveillance system for our organization and specify the presence of a video registration device and the method of storing records of surveillance cameras. At the same time, they exhibit an unreasonable interest to the composition of my family. The mass media are openly discrediting our organization and its individual employees.

From the very first day of our organization, we have been providing free and professional legal and informational assistance to the population of our republic; and we are also continuously monitoring the observance of human rights in the Republic of Ingushetia. We went to an open dialogue with the authorities, knowing and understanding that the republic can progress quickly and efficiently only through interaction of state and municipal authorities, the clergy, and the political parties and civil society institutions. However, we have never participated in obvious anti-Ingush projects, and never promoted anyone's career by compromising our beliefs and principles. We were trying to help people in protecting their violated rights and to enforce their constitutional freedoms. Much of the visitors to our organization are the people affected by illegal actions of power agents, but about half of our visitors are the people who are fighting for restoration of their rights in the area of labour relations, social services, education and public health. There are many law enforcers among our visitors, both active and retired; and we are helping practically all the people who come to us.

On May 19, 2010, I was in the Kremlin at the meeting of Russian President Dmitry Anatolievich Medvedev with human rights activists and public figures of Northern Caucasus. This meeting was combined with the sitting of the Council under the President of the Russian Federation for Civil Society Institutions and Human Rights. Thus, before I got there, they had checked me and my organization up to the last comma. Any sane person knows that the degree of security provided to the country's VIP No. 1 does not accept any doubt of special services. I was checked for almost two or three months.

All the reports that I sent in the prescribed form to the appropriate state authorities over the past few years were requested and checked. It is reasonable to believe that should I have had anything to do with illegal activities, it would not have been revealed long ago. The attention to our organization on the part of intelligence services has always been so close that it even more encouraged us to avoid any hint of any illegal activities undertaken by our organization.

I have never had to do with plundering budget funds intended to meet the needs of the population; I have never traded in or sold the land of our ancestors; I have always honoured and respected their memory. I have no property or deposits outside the country; and my children do not study abroad. I see my future and the future of my family in our republic. I am not going to leave my homeland; the land of my ancestors is dear for me; and I do not and will never have another homeland – this is why I cannot just watch how my republic is systematically destroyed.

Despite the continued and increasing pressure, I, Magomed Mutsolgov, am strongly committed to continue my human rights work. I never went against the law and all my life was defending my rights and the rights of others. The work of our organization will not stop; and the people will be provided with our help at the same level. I think that those employees of our organization, who feel danger for themselves and their relatives in case of their further work in the human rights organization "Mashr", are free to resign; and I shall never blame them. At the same time, I want to express my appreciation to all those, who in these difficult days come to us, as well as all to our numerous friends, colleagues and fellow countrymen, who have called or addressed us in writing with their words of support, and who is helping us in spite of all the problems.

Great thanks to you all!

God bless you in all your endeavours!

March 6, 2012

Source: the website of the human rights organization "Mashr"

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