The BBC claim to have contacted the relatives of several of the missing people. They confirmed that Chechen security forces are threatening and forcing them to declare that the missing men had left for Syria to fight for the Islamic State.
According to the BBC, Chechen security forces also tried to force relatives to hand over the passports of the missing men, so that no-one could prove that they never left the country.
‘I think that they want to simply take [the documents], so there is no evidence that he didn’t leave for Syria’, a relative of one man told the BBC.
Some of the families have appealed to Russia’s Investigative Committee in Chechnya to find out what happened to their relatives. They told the BBC that in response ‘several people were threatened and told to drop the case, to think about their families’ [safety]’.
On 9 July, Novaya Gazeta published an article ‘This was an execution’, which included a list of 27 people which, according to the paper, were killed by Chechen security forces in Grozny on the night of 26 January. It was also reported that high ranking members of local security forces attended the execution. The Chechen authorities have categorically denied the reports calling them ‘an outburst of unhealthy fantasy’.
[Read on OC Media: Dead Europeans are only news sometimes]