Devil’s Jokes: Secrets of the Chechen Court

Chechnya has been a complicated region by default and its officialdom is very specifically tuned. In May, its head Ramzan Kadyrov pounced onto the judges recommending the Chief of the republic's Supreme Court to resign (which he did). This directly contradicts the Russian Constitution. It has been reported that the Prosecutor's Office presses the judges to minimize the number of acquittals. Scandal, as usual, had resulted in neither resignations, nor investigation, while judicial power had been effectively paralyzed. The R obtained a declaration of the local prosecutors to the Russia's top authorities in which they announce their disagreement with the state of affairs in Chechnya.
16.09.2016
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You've been warned

 The first letter has been addressed to Kadyrov personally and signed “Chechen patriots”. It is anonimous because no one dares risking his and his family safety.

“This is commonly known that the entire world recognizes your methods as very efficient and working. We would like to assist your fight with the Devils who use our young people”, the letter reads.

The authors complain on a certain “Devil in the General's uniform” in Kadyrov's inner circle, namely Chechen Prosecutor General Shurpuddi Abdulkadyrov.

In their letters to Putin and Kadyrov Abdulkdyrov subordinates called him "the Devil"
In their letters to Putin and Kadyrov Abdulkdyrov subordinates called him "the Devil"

The signatories note that a cousin of the prosecutor, Tagir Abdulkadyrov, was the right hand of the terrorist Amir ibn al-Hattab. Tagir currently lives in Austria and recruits young people to fight in Syria. He allegedly obtained new passport and moved abroad with the help of his brother, then-prosecutor of Achkoi-Martan district. Amir's brother work in tax police and feels himself in safety.

Note

Amir ibn al-Hattab (real name - Samer Saleh as-Suveilem) is a Saudi-born terrorists warlord. He actively fought against Russian troops during war in Chechnya in 1995-2002, promoting Islamic state there. He also fought in Afghanistan in 1987-1992 and Tajikistan in 1993.

«Feeling he is immune from prosecution, Abdulkadyrov has now decided that he might govern the entire republic and manage personnel issues,” the letter says.

The signatories note in particular that Magomed Daudov (aka Lord) from Kadyrov's inner circle was in 2015 reappointed from the post of the chief of Kadyrov's administration to the chair of the parliament speaker. Abdulkadyrov decided that his friend had been downgraded.

“Daudov was the only hope to approach you and he repeatedly said that in private during their night meetings. Recent searches in Murtazaliev's home and placing him on the wanted list Abdulkadyrov sees as a sign that you, Mr Kadyrov, could be the next,” the letter says.

Note

Sagid Murtazaliev, Russian and Ukrainian wrestler and public activist, champion of Sydney Olympics 2000, world champion 1999, Europe champion 2000, member of Dagestan parliament. In July 2015 it was reported that he has been charged with financing of terrorism and several contract killings. On July 29 the head of Kizlyar district was arrested and his house searched. At that time, Sagid was in UAE. On Sept 2015 Moscow's Basmanny court sanctioned Murtazaliev's arrest.

The signatories quote Abdulkadyrov: “Stay in a shadow so far. There will be no other candidates for presidency. You are Russia's hero. Ramzan promised Murtazaliev to become Makhachakala mayor and then – Dagestan president. Moscow showed ho is in charge...” When and in what circumstances Abdulkadyrov has said that, the authors omitted.

In conclusion, the “Chechen patriots” note that Kadyrov is “a strongman who gets in way of Abdulkadyrov to exercise his power” and ask to “uncover the Devils” and “punish the traitors”.

The letter two has been addressed to Russia's Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika, FSB director Alexander Bortnikov and president Vladimir Putin, this time signed “from Chechnya prosecutors devoted to serving the law”. They ask to stop lawlessness conducted by Abdulkadyrov who, in their words, repeatedly violates the oath.

First, they claim, Abdulkadyrov violated the anti-corruption law by employing several of his relatives (his brother- and sister-in-law, as well as his cousin) thus igniting a conflict of interests.  

Chechen prosecutors also accused their chief of twisting statistic data: “Prosecutor in the republic fearing punishment ans physical reprisals have to support indictments even when there are no evidence against the defendants”. They refer to the statistics which shows that Chechen courts in 2013 made 12 acquittals, in 2014 – only two and in 2015 – none.

«There could be no verdicts of acquittal in Chechnya by default because Abdulkadyrov needs 100-percent results”, the prosecutors claim.

They quoted Ramzan Kadyrov as saying that the Prosecutor of Chechnya would be personally responsible to him for every verdict of acquittal. Abdulkadyrov allegedly said that he always had two draft sentences in his office, conviction and acquittal, to blackmail the corrupted judges. He also allegedly pressed the judges of the Supreme Court through their children working in his structure. When judge Abubakarov last August mitigated a sentence to one convict, Abdulkadyrov the same day had launched inspection of the Vedensky district prosecutor's office where the judge son has been working.

The letter to Moscow was supplemented with the audio recording containing threats Abdulkadyrov has made during a meeting with judges and prosecutors. The RG has not in possession of that recording.

“Abdulkadyrov paid to Doku Umarov (Moscow-appointed head of Chechnya during a war between separatists and federal troops) to guarantee his security and to physically remove the prosecutors he disliked. Abdulkadyrov drove Umarov to Ingush Republic using his prosecutor's ID as a cover”, the letter says.

The letter also highlights corrupting within the Prosecutor's Office. The price tag of a chair of a city prosecutor starts from 100,000 euros, it claims. Prosecutors describe the orders of their chief “openly criminal”: he allegedly orders to terrorize commercial and budget enterprises, including children facilities and clinics, extorting monthly payments which, in turn, are sent further to the Prosecutor's General Office.

“Instead of control over the Russian legislation enforcement in Chechnya, we do exactly the opposite, coercing people to leave the republic either for Europe as refugees, or to Syria as fighters. They all are equally tired from lawlessness,” the signatories say.

At the top of all, they claim that Abdulkadyrov has been mentally unwell, and “this is an open secret” in Chechnya that he is a frequent visitor of the psychiatric councilors in the neighboring Stavropol region. 

Both letters were mailed in Sept 2015 and no response has been received.

Ramzan goes nuts

Since the letter was written, the practice of prosecutor's pressing on judges has come into public spotlight. Ramzan Kadyrov held a special televised meeting with all judges in Chechnya. Kadyrov emotionally slammed the judges for too many convictions they have made.

But Abdulkadyrov's scheme fell through
But Abdulkadyrov's scheme fell through

“Why don't you feel pity to the common people! I asked even during the war not to jail people. We've lived fifteen years with no laws at all, we don't get use to obey laws, this is not our peoples' fault. Leave my people in peace, this is me who is responsible for them, inshallah! Otherwise, you'll regret about that,” Kadyrov surged.

Right at the meeting, he “appointed” a man responsible for lawlessness in the republic. Kadyrov chose for that role the chairman of the Chechnya Supreme Court Magomed Karatayev. “After you came, everything has changed for worse. Bribes have been increased and everyone started taking them”, he raged.

Video on the theme

Ramzan Kadyrov critisized the work of the Chechen judges

Kadyrov wrote in his Instagramm that he has offered Karatayev and three other judges to resign to clear professional honor: “That would be the best decision of their lifetime”. 

All four were detained after the meeting has ended and released only upon they signed resignation letters. Two of them were stripped off their chairs the next day. Karateyev and his deputy Tahir Murdalov could not be fired right away because that was the Russia's Supreme Court privilege.

The judges were not allowed to speak out at the meeting, but on May 6 Karatayev told the Life.ru news agency that “Kadyrov has been misled by certain people and he would change his mind”.

Magomed Karatayev and some other judges were forced to quit
Magomed Karatayev and some other judges were forced to quit

Still, on May 7, Karatayev admitted he has “gravely violated laws” and accepted his responsibility for that. He also apologized to Kadyrov and Chechen people. His office has been vacant ever since. The rumors have been around that the office could be filled with Kadyrov's fellow-villager Ramzan Tamakov or a judge of the republic Supreme Court Musa Vagapov (who, when he worked as a lawyer, witnessed in courts against his clients).

It must be stressed that Kadyrov has no legal right to intervene into judicial affairs. In Kremlin, though, they see nothing unusual in it. “Every head of the region has a right to present his opinion and this is not pressure on courts”, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Novaya Gazeta weekly reported that one of the judges lost his job after his son has criticized Kadyrov in a social web. The father and his senior son were detained and beaten and the judge applied for resignation. Junior son turned himself in the police and disappeared for six months.

In 2011, the jury acquitted several men charged with terrorism. The jury members were summoned to then-deputy prime minister of Chechnya Magomed “Lord” Daudov who blamed them of having blood on their hands. The jury was arrested in full, driven to a forest where the troops hunted armed rebels. The troops pushed the jury members in from of them as a living shield, Novaya Gazeta reported. A judge and a lawyer participating in that hearing soon died from heart attacks.

Human rights activists helped the relatives of the jury members to find refuge in Europe. Russia's Supreme Court upheld the verdict but it was too late for many.

In 2014, Chechnya Prosecutor General summoned all judges. It became obvious that when Kadyrov demanded “not to prosecute people”, he implied something else.

Prosecutor: You urged the jury not to pay attention to the material evidence – the videotape with a woman confessing to the head of the republic.

Judge Ismailov: How can you say these was confession? A man in military camouflage is talking to the woman at the videotape. No formal notes, no protocol. It's unclear who asks the women...

Kadyrov's handyman

Abdulkadyrov has been closely working together with Daudov who, thanks to that friendship, is effectively playing a role of a supervisor of judicial system in Chechnya. Thus the republic has been moving toward scrapping competitiveness from judicial process.

Abdulkadyrov is a far relative of Kadyrov, as his surname supposes. He became the first Chechen appointed the republic's Prosecutor General (previously Moscow used to appoint federal officials on that post).

In Feb 2016, Kadyrov's posting in the Instagramm sparked a scandal: he published a photo collage picturing an opposition leader Mikhail Kasyanov as seen through sniper rifle optical scope. “Who doesn't understand, he will”, the caption said.

A member of St-Petersburg parliament Maxim Reznik requested prosecutors to investigate if that Kadyrov's words were extremists. The case, against the accepted practice, was transferred to Chechnya for processing. Of course, Abdulkadyrov found nothing criminal in that posting. But statistic in Chechnya remains perfect. No questions asked.

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