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Arrested Daghestani exorcist claims he was ‘kidnapped and tortured’

15 January 2021
Ibragim Ibalayev. Photo via Instagram.

An exorcist facing weapons charges in Daghestan has claimed that he was abducted and tortured into confessing.

On Tuesday, Mackhachkala’s Sovietsky District Court remanded Ibragim Ibalayev into two-months pretrial detention, his lawyer says.

Ibalayev is a well-known exorcist in Daghestan. His Instagram page, which has almost 32,000 followers, contains photos and videos of Ibalayev reading passages of the Koran to people supposedly ‘possessed by djinns’.

Ibalayev’s lawyer, Israfil Gadadov, told OC Media that his client was abducted by unknown men in his hometown of Buynaksk at around 19:00 on 9 January. 

Gadadov said that Ibalayev was tortured before being brought to the Daghestani capital Makhachkala, 30 kilometres north-east of Buynaksk, where he was arrested and a weapon planted on him.

According to Gadadov, in the official version of events, Ibalayev was detained at around 02:00 on 10 January near the Sovietsky District Police Department in Makhachkala, where police claimed to have seized a pistol and a hand grenade from him.

Idris Yusupov, a journalist and lawyer who is assisting in the case, said the defence had filed a criminal complaint into Ibalayev’s alleged torture, as well as a motion to terminate the case against him.

‘He was beaten and tortured with an electric current to confess to possession of weapons. On his body, the investigator and the lawyer recorded visual traces of the use of physical violence, including electric shocks’, Yusupov, told OC Media.

He said that investigators had not yet decided weather or not to open an investigation into the allegations of torture.

Police were ‘interested in Ibalayev’ 

According to Ibalayev’s wife, Naira Khanalieyva, police detained one of her husband’s clients around a week before his arrest. She said the client had warned her husband that the police were interested in him, and advised him to ‘disappear’ for some time. 

She said her husband spent two days at home in Buynaksk, but on the morning of the alleged abduction, he went to Makhachkala to partake in a seminar for exorcists.

She said the police first took an interest in her husband in December, when he was summoned to the police department. She said Ibalayev had been looking for office space in Buynaksk and that police had asked him what he was looking for.

She insisted that the case against her husband was fabricated. ‘He never did anything illegal and never got involved in anything’, she said.

Khanaliyeva has appealed to the Public Chamber of Daghestan and Russian human rights group Memorial with a request to assist in the release of her husband. 

Omar Omarov, chair of the Public Monitoring Commission of the Public Chamber, told OC Media he intended to visit and question Ibalayev in the detention facility in the near future.

The press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for Daghestan did not answer OC Media’s calls.

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