Chechnya launches probe into attack on local NGO

Screenshot from Facebook video by Dmitry Utukin
Law enforcement agencies are investigating an attack on the office of the “Committee against Torture” NGO, the head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, has said, adding that any unlawful action will be punished, regardless of the reasons behind it.

Law enforcement bodies have launched a probe into the incident in the Committee against Torture. It will result in the measures ordered by the law,” Tass quoted Kadyrov as saying Wednesday.

Some people have been detained, investigation procedures are being carried out with them,” he added.

Earlier Wednesday a large group of people held an unsanctioned rally in front of the offices of the “combined mobile group” of human rights activists – the joint organization led by the Committee Against Torture (CAT) group and based in its office.

Видео с места событий. Курочат нашу служебную машинуPosted by Dmitry Utukin on Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The CAT reported the developments via its Twitter. According to the posts, participants of rally protested against the activists’ “silence” over the recent killing of a Chechen policeman in Grozny by operatives from the neighboring Stavropol Region. Dzhambulat Dadayev was on the federal wanted list for causing grievous bodily harm but when Stavropol policemen attempted to detain him he offered resistance and was shot dead.

At some point, several dozen protesters wearing surgical masks and sunglasses stormed the building. When members of the committee locked the steel door, the attackers started breaking it with sledgehammers and angle grinders. They succeeded and rights advocates had to escape through the window. According to preliminary reports, no one was injured in the attack but the office was ransacked.

One of the leading members of the Committee Against Torture, Oleg Khabibrakhmanov, told reporters that the attack on the office was most likely pre-planned as its participants wore masks and carried tools for breaking down doors.

Chechen Deputy Interior Minister Apti Alaudinov told reporters in the afternoon that police had detained over 30 people suspected of participating in the attack. Russian human rights group Memorial put the number of detained at 40.

Kheda Sardarova, of the Chechen Council for Human Rights, told RIA Novosti that the attack on the NGO was most likely carried out by relatives of the man killed, Dzhambulat Dadayev. She also ruled out the allegations that the attack could be somehow provoked by local authorities or police.

Ramzan Kadyrov confirmed that the attackers were demanding that the activists investigate Dadayev’s killing and said that as soon as he learned about the conflict he summoned the head of the Nadterechny District – the birthplace of the killed policemen and his family. He added that protesters who did not participate in the attack later met with senior police officials and demanded a thorough and unbiased investigation of the incident.

It was promised to them,” the Chechen leader said.

He added that according to some unconfirmed reports, Dadayev’s mother was among the participants of the rally who met with police chiefs.

The Russian Presidential Council for Human rights has issued a press release saying that it will held a special session on Thursday completely dedicated to the Wednesday attack in Grozny.

READ MORE: ‘Shoot to kill’: Chechen leader’s row with Interior Ministry heats up

The killing of Dadaev provoked a major scandal in late April.Ramzan Kadyrov was so outraged that the operation was launched without notifying the Chechen authorities that he threatened to shoot federal law enforcement officers if similar incidents continued to happen.