12 July 2012, 10:00

Press release of the Interregional Public Organization "Committee Against Torture" (ICAT) on an attempt to open a criminal case against its leader Igor Kalyapin

Yesterday, another attempt became known to bring Igor Kalyapin, Chairman of the "Committee Against Torture", to criminal liability for divulging the secrets of investigation. The press service of the ICAT was informed about it by phone by Mr Kalyapin himself, who is now in Grozny as a member in the United Mobile Group (UMG) of Russian human rights organizations. On Saturday, July 7, he was questioned by an investigator of the special division of the Chief Investigatory Department for the Southern Federal District (SFD) of the Investigatory Committee of the Russian Federation (ICRF). This criminal prosecution was initiated by the Department of the FSB (Federal Security Bureau) for the Nizhny Novgorod Region; while earlier two attempts to initiate a criminal case against the human rights defender had been undertaken by the Chechen power agencies, allegedly responsible for committing serious crimes and concealment thereof.

This time the pretext for the beginning of the pre-investigation check was found in the report of Mr Ryabkov, R. S., an FSB operative agent for the Nizhny Novgorod Region, who had revealed, in a number of media publications, attributes of a crime under Article 310 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, namely, disclosure of data of preliminary investigation. The publications in question included several articles by Elena Milashina in the "Novaya Gazeta" ("Kadyrov's Timid Guests", "Failed Confrontation", "Vertical Powerlessness" and "Chechnya Is Worth Defending"); the article "Caucasian Greyhounds" by Svetlana Reiter in the "Esquire" magazine, which was recognized the best 2011 publication by the "Independent Media" Publishers; and the "Chechen Diaries" by Igor Kalyapin, posted first in the blogosphere and then on the website of the "Committee Against Torture". These publications tell about the crimes committed by Chechen policemen - killings, torture and forced disappearances, as well as about systematic facts of investigators' sabotage in relation to inquiry of these crimes. In one of these cases Igor Kalyapin is a representative of the victim Islam Umarpashaev, who in 2009 was kidnapped, tortured and illegally kept for four months at the base of the Chechen OMON (riot police). In this capacity, Mr Kalyapin took part in a number of investigatory actions. In May 2011, investigator Igor Sobol forced Igor Kalyapin to sign a nondisclosure obligation in relation to materials of preliminary investigation.

Mr Kalyapin insists that he had not disclosed any materials of the criminal case, but attracted the attention of the media and broad public to egregious facts of refusal of state officials to investigate the crimes committed by "Kadyrov guys". He is convinced that the attempts to prosecute him are a form of pressure aimed to force the "Committee Against Torture" to stop working with the cases involving the crimes allegedly committed by factual subordinates and associates of the almighty Chechen dictator. "I haven't passed the information about the investigatory actions to anyone," says the protocol of Mr Kalyapin's questioning, which is available at the press service of the ICAT. "At the same time, I disseminated broadly - on several occasions - the details about the circumstances of obstructing the investigation, and general information about the obstacles arising in the course of the inquiry. However, I haven't disclosed any results or the nature of the conducted investigatory actions." Investigator Igor Sobol, who is in charge of the criminal inquiry into Umarpashaev's kidnapping, also believes that Igor Kalyapin had not disclosed any material of the investigation.

In a bitter irony, the check of the report of the above Nizhny Novgorod FSB agent is conducted by the Special Division of the Chief Investigatory Department for investigating the crimes committed by law enforcement employees. Last winter the concept of setting up such special division was developed by a group of human rights defenders with an active participation of Igor Kalyapin and later approved by Alexander Bastrykin, the head of the ICRF.

The "Committee Against Torture" believes that this is a systematic campaign of pressure, inspired by high-ranking suspects, and reminds that earlier the lawyers of the ICAT, working in Chechnya, had been repeatedly exposed to illegal actions. Thus, on January 21, 2012, in Nizhny Novgorod, right after getting off the train, the police detained Anton Ryzhov, who was returning from a trip to Chechnya associated with his planned work in the above UMG. Mr Ryzhov was taken to the on duty unit of the Nizhny Novgorod Transport Division of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, where his laptop and electronic data carries were confiscated. In February 2010, the whole UMG was illegally detained by employees of the Shali ROVD (District Interior Division). Threats addressed to the UMG and the ICAT were repeatedly expressed by Ramzan Kadyrov. "These guys hate the Chechen people. They've come here to earn money," the Chechen dictator said on June 1, 2012. He promised that he would soon know everything about the activities of the "Committee Against Torture".

"Now it is obvious that these words were not idle chatter. It looks like Ramzan is already aware that Nizhny Novgorod FSB agents, following Nizhny Novgorod policemen, are ready to enjoy dancing to the tune of Kadyrov's thugs," Stanislav Dmitrievskiy, a Nizhny Novgorod rights defender and Igor Kalyapin's colleague, has commented on the statements of the Chechen leader.

The work of the UMG of Russian human rights organizations in Chechnya was launched in November 2009 after the abduction and murder of Natalia Estemirova, an employee of the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial". The Group consists of three persons, who work by one-month-long shifts in Chechnya. Each shift has its leader; and each leader has a duly made power of attorney to represent the interests of victims in criminal cases. Thus, they are entitled to participate in investigatory actions, move petitions, and otherwise control the course of official investigations. The ICAT is coordinating and organizing the work of the UMG.

Press Service of the Interregional Public Organization "Committee Against Torture"

July 10, 2012

Source: Human Rights Centre "Memorial" (Moscow)

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