On Monday, March 15, the paper Novaya Gazeta distributed a report by columnist Elena Milashina, named “I Served in the Chechen Police and Didn’t Want to Kill People.” The story highlights disclosures from Suleiman Gezmakhmaev, a previous official in Chechnya’s Akhmat Kadyrov Police Patrol Service Regiment, about how his unit executed a few local people in mid 2017. He says he helped capture and investigate a portion of these individuals, however he denies taking part in their torment and murder. Prior to distributing Gezmakhmaev’s story, Novaya Gazeta and its accomplices encouraged him and his family escape Russia. In the article, Milashina portrays in detail how she associated with Gezmakhmaev, what he did in the Chechen police, how the executions occurred, and which job high-positioning police authorities supposedly played in the killings.
Columnist Elena Milashina says she got a letter in September 2017 through her companion Musa Lomaev from a Chechen man who’d escaped Russia and was presently looking for haven in Germany. In the letter, the man depicted the torment and murder of prisoners in January 2017 at a base for the Akhmat Kadyrov Police Patrol Service Regiment. Milashina mentioned a gathering with the letter’s creator, and he concurred, incredibly. They initially met in Hamburg in September 2017. That is the way Milashina got familiar with Suleiman Gezmakhmaev.
In April 2017, along with his significant other and their two kids, Gezmakhmaev escaped Chechnya for the European Union through Belarus. At that point, his previous partners in the police were searching for him. The family shown up first in Poland and afterward arrived at Germany. In June 2017, German relocation authorities talked with Gezmakhmaev about his explanations behind leaving Russia. He portrayed the executions in Chechnya however declined to name the authorities capable, stressed that his declaration could arrive at Russian authorities and become an issue in the event that he was denied refuge and compelled to get back to Russia. At last, Germany dismissed his refuge application on the detail that he expected to apply in Poland, where he and his family previously entered the EU. (The Gezmakhmaevs proceeded onward from Poland since it’s by and large a lot harder to get refuge there.)
Novaya Gazeta consented to help them discover asylum elsewhere, however this implied the family required first to get back to Russia.
For eighteen months, Gezmakhmaev and his family did precisely that, living covertly in an asylum given by common liberties activists, never leaving their home, never speaking with family members, and living altogether without the Internet. All through this time, attorneys at the Committee Against Torture recorded long periods of video interviews with Gezmakhmaev. Novaya Gazeta underscores that he gave declaration about the killings not in return for shelter abroad but rather on the grounds that “this horrendous wrongdoing, wherein he was additionally included, burdened him.”
Suleiman Gezmakhmaev was brought into the world in 1989 in the Chechen town of Achkhoy-Martan, around 30 miles southwest of Grozny. After grade school, he began working and never headed off to college. In 2011, he joined the police power. “The military was far off for Chechens. Development, driving a taxi, or the police — those were the alternatives,” he says. Gezmakhmaev turned into an expert rifleman in a police unit named after Akhmat Kadyrov and partook in purported “counterterrorist tasks” (KTOs).
In the help, Gezmakhmaev says he discovered that Chechen police polish off injured agitators in the field. “No one in Chechnya needs a genuine, breathing radical — under torment, they can say excessively,” he clarified. Officials informally gathered their weapons and utilized them to incite augmentations of their counterterrorist tasks by discharging at police designated spots or military units. Gezmakhmaev says law requirement depend on KTOs for subsidizing and execution pointers. The police even killed guiltless onlookers, once in a while during a genuine counterterrorist activity, however it’s simpler “just to abduct somebody and hold him in a cellar until his facial hair growth becomes out, prior to bringing him into the woodland dressed as a guerilla and dispensing with him,” clarifies Gezmakhmaev.
In 2012, Gezmakhmaev saw one of these killings firsthand. During a routine KTO, one of his kindred officials was on night obligation when he heard a man shout. The following morning, there was the sound of shots. Gezmakhmaev and a few different officials were subsequently educated that a radical had been killed in the wake of opposing the police, however Gezmakhmaev says he perceived the dead man: “It was a similar person they brought to our storm cellar a month prior. He was exceptionally pale and totally shaggy.” After this episode, Gezmakhmaev says he began keeping away from KTO tasks.
Lawfully, the Akhmat Kadyrov Police Patrol Service Regiment does not have the position to capture individuals and hold them in confinement on the unit’s own grounds, yet officials did it in any case, wearing the emblem of other police branches. “Every one of the men in the regiment have an entire arrangement of bars and stripes from various divisions, including the exceptional powers, the mob police, Russia’s Interior Ministry, and their own unit,” Gezmakhmaev revealed to Novaya Gazeta. While he was in the help, Gezmakhmaev says the regiment completed mass captures only twice before January 2017: once in 2015 (when nobody was murdered) and again in 2016 (when the police purportedly beat at any rate two detainees to death).
Toward the beginning of January 2017, Gezmakhmaev’s regiment was requested to gather together people associated with arranging an assault against the 42nd Guards Motorized Rifle Division military station on the edges of the Chechen city of Shali. Authorities before long acquired in any event 56 individuals, a large portion of whom were imprisoned in the police unit’s rec center storm cellar. The regiment’s officials, alongside “Terek” exceptional powers troops and police from different regions, beat the prisoners with elastic hoses and clubs, tormenting them with power and bringing down them into barrels of water. The torment halted just when a detainee admitted or kicked the bucket.
Starting on January 14, Gezmakhmaev was doled out to watch the detainees being held in the exercise center storm cellar. Along with another official, his companion Suleiman Saraliev, he says they used to carry the prisoners to the shower whenever the situation allows and sneak them cleanser. They’d likewise allowed the men to ask and asked the regiment’s cafeteria laborers for additional food. Proportioned only a couple of slices of bread a day, in addition to perhaps a saltine, the detainees were purposely starved and kept feeble. “They couldn’t walk and would implode,” reviews Gezmakhmaev, who says his discussions with the prisoners persuaded him that they were honest.
There were in excess of twelve assumed “guerilla administrators” among the detainees, everything except one of whom wound up dead. Gezmakhmaev says he actually addressed “amir” Makhma Muskiev, who later sobbed under torment and admitted to each wrongdoing his abusers recommended. Adam Dasaev, another alleged administrator, “shouted around evening time like a crazy individual.” The police additionally captured his cousin, Imran Dasaev, imprisoning him in the cellar with a shot injury in his leg, which they would not treat, to guarantee gangrene.
As indicated by Gezmakhmaev, Dasaev said his leg injury happened when Chechen pioneer Ramzan Kadyrov coincidentally shot him. (Various different sources affirmed this record to Novaya Gazeta.)
In late January, officials constrained the 13 “amirs” to sign revelations that they wouldn’t leave the district and afterward moved them to another cellar on the compound. As Novaya Gazeta announced beforehand, the men were arranged against the dividers of a diversion room where Shalinsky District Police Chief Tamerlan Musaev and Akhmat Kadyrov Regiment Commander Aslan Iraskhanov were playing table tennis. The detainees were then taken to an adjoining room, where Turpal-Ali Ibragimov, the Shali region organization’s head of staff, was hanging tight for them. Behind the entryway into the room, Gezmakhmaev says he and individual official Suleiman Saraliev saw dead bodies. Saraliev was then arranged to acquire Makhma Muskiev. At the point when Gezmakhmaev understood that he was next to fill in as killer, he pardoned himself from obligation and got back to the sleeping quarters.
The following morning, Saraliev depicted what had happened the earlier evening: first, Ibragimov shot a couple of the “amirs,” before Commander Iraskhanov concluded that it is smarter to execute the detainees without staining the floor and dividers with blood. Eventually, Ibragimov’s watchmen choked the leftover detainees with practice ropes. Saraliev said he had to help execute Muskiev.
Saraliev had just been with the Akhmat Kadyrov Police Regiment for a couple of months when he was requested to participate in the January 2015 executions. The experience transformed him, reviews Gezmakhmaev, who says his companion began experiencing a sleeping disorder and bad dreams about Makhma Muskiev. He started taking Lyrica (an anticonvulsant mainstream among drug addicts in Chechnya) and stressing that Muskiev’s family members may look for retribution against him. Gezmakhmaev says Saraliev eventually chose to discuss the killings to his companion who worked either in the head prosecutor’s office or the insightful council.
The gathering occurred toward the beginning of March 2017. Saraliev’s companion tuned in to his story and requested seven days to consult with his administrators, however that was the last he knew about him. Gezmakhmaev at that point went on wiped out leave and didn’t see Saraliev once more. After one more week, he got a call from Saraliev, who was currently remaining with a cousin. “Try not to accept what they’re saying about me,” he asked Gezmakhmaev. At that point Saraliev quit noting his telephone. Gezmakhmaev learned later that “Terek” uncommon powers administrator Abuzaid Vismuradov (allegedly one of Ramzan Kadyrov’s beloved companions) had visited the regiment joined by “some addict” who guaranteed that Saraliev is gay.
A short time later, says Gezmakhmaev, Vismuradov brought Saraliev’s cousin to the regiment’s military quarters and asked him clearly: “Are you going to kill him or ought to we get it done ourselves?” In its report, Novaya Gazeta doesn’t explain who killed Suleiman Saraliev, yet we realize he was covered the following day, “practically stealthily,” without even a burial service. Gezmakhmaev and his family left Chechnya before long.
The state specialist who inspected Novaya Gazeta’s police report reasoned that Saraliev is as yet alive “yet his area is obscure.” Novaya Gazeta, then, has photos of his grave.
This is what Suleiman Gezmakhmaev wrote in his letter, which Elena Milashina read before she at any point met him in Germany:
“I also want to note that Abuzaid Vismuradov — the [“Terek”] special forces commander and “Akhmat” sports club president, nicknamed “Patriot” — is friends with [Akhmat Kadyrov Police Regiment commander] Aslan Iriskhanov and rarely visits our regiment. At that time, for about three weeks, beginning on January 12 [in 2017] […] Vismuradov came by almost every day. […] I doubt Iriskhanov would have dared to execute prisoners without direct orders from above, since Vismuradov was aware of all that was happening. It was clear that Vismuradov was in charge of everything, from the arrests to the executions. Also, Vismuradov couldn’t have ordered the killings without approval from Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of the Chechen Republic.”