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Five of the six Daghestani women who returned from Syria this autumn are still being detained. All of the women are mothers, some with infant children.
Four of the women are being held in jail, while another is under house arrest, all awaiting trial. Muslimat Kurbanova and Zagidat Abakarova arrived on October 21 while the other three returned on 13 November.
While ‘participation in an illegal armed formation’ is illegal under Russian law, a person ‘who voluntarily ceases participation in illegal armed formation and surrenders weapons’ is cleared from criminal liability if no other crimes were committed.
Daghestan’s Human Rights Commissioner Kheda Saratova told OC Media that the women voluntarily surrendered to authorities immediately upon landing — a mandatory procedure. Women from other regions of Russia who also returned from Syria and Iraq have since been released.
For several weeks the women were denied access to their children, although this has since been reversed.
‘We’ve been told that they have been given a separate cell. They said ‘don’t worry, everything is fine with them’. But we did not visit the girls yet. We were allowed in the detention facility when we brought the children for feeding. But we are no longer given access’, Muslimat’s mother Amatulla Kurbanova told OC Media.
On 21 November, Saratova told journalists that both Mikhail Fedotov, chairman of the Presidential Council for the Development of Civil Society, and Anna Kuznetsova, Russia’s Children's Comissioner, were aware of the women’s plight.
Saratova said that Chechen human rights activists had appealed to Fedotov to step in to have the women moved to house arrest, since they are all mothers and some are nursing children.