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Tbilisi City Court has upheld the decision of the Ministry of Refugees to deny political asylum to Chechen man Tumso Abdurakhmanov, who had fled Kadyrov’s regime in the bordering Russian republic of Chechnya. According to the court, the decision was made because due to ‘significant circumstances [granting asylum] contradicts the interests of the country’. Abdurakhmanov fled Chechnya after receiving death threats from the nephew of Chechen Head Ramzan Kadyrov.
Gela Nikolaishvili, a lawyer who often deals with cases of refugees from the North Caucasus, told RFE/RL that the court’s decision was based on a Georgian law which enables them to reject asylum seekers if accepting them would contradict the interests of the state.
‘But when we ask for clarification on what exact “interests” they meant, the special services answer that the case is classified “secret”’, Nikolaishvili remarked.
Russian human rights group Memorial has appealed to the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office to take measures in Abdurakhmanov’s case.
‘Human rights activists request that a probe be conducted to determine whether the Prosecutor's Office [in Chechnya] has violated procedures for considering appeals from citizens, and bringing to justice those responsible’, Memorial’s statement reads.
‘I will give you three days to escape, after three days I will find you and kill you’
Tumso Abdurakhmanov escaped to Georgia with his family in 2016. He said the reason was a threat from Islam Kadyrov, Ramzan Kadyrov’s nephew. Abdurakhmanov accidentally cut off Islam’s car while driving on the road, and Islam assumed that he was a ‘Wahhabi’ [a derogatory term for Salafi Muslims] opposed to his uncle.
Abdurakhmanov said that he was arrested on the road, and that Islam Kadyrov’s bodyguards took his phone and personal items. Then he was brought to a house where Islam was waiting for him.
‘Islam Kadyrov told me that if I wanted to escape he would give me three days, but then he would find me and kill me’, he said in an interview with Interpressnews.
According to Abdurakhmanov, after three days, he met Islam Kadyrov and several people from Chechnya’s government again. They didn’t give him the chance to explain himself, but declared him an extremist. Islam suggested that he would take Abdurakhmanov to Ramzan Kadyrov to decide whether to kill him or set him free.
Abdurakhmanov agreed, but before the meeting could take place, he left Chechnya with his family.
He appealed to Georgia’s government for political asylum, while the Prosecutor’s Office of Chechnya launched a criminal investigation against him. He claims that he is now accused of going to Syria to join the Islamic State.
Refugees from the North Caucasus in Georgia
Abdurakhmanov is one of a number of refugees from the North Caucasus attempting to claim asylum in Georgia.
Magomed Magomedov, also from Daghestan, appealed to Georgia in 2013 for political asylum, but soon went missing. He had arrived in Georgia with his family.
In 2014, the Red Cross discovered Magomedov in Stavropol, imprisoned by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB).