Senior Chechen military commander Abduzayd Vismuradov, who has been accused of involvement in the abduction, torture, and killing of queer men in Chechnya, visited Germany and the Netherlands in early September. His visit has raised questions over the EU’s visa policy towards people suspected of committing human rights abuses.
The chief of Chechen Head Ramzan Kadyrov’s personal guard Abduzayd ‘the Patriot’ Vismuradov, who also commands Chechnya’s Terek Special Rapid Response Team, visited Rotterdam in the Netherlands to attend a mixed martial arts event, Russian paper Novaya Gazeta reported on 2 September.
One of the bouts included Chechen fighter Abdulkerim Edilov — a member of the Kadyrov-affiliated Akhmat Fight Club. Vismuradov is also president of the club.
Kavkaz.Realii reported that Edilov’s fight was broadcasted on Grozny’s main square at the initiative of the Chechen authorities. Kadyrov himself was also watching the event on TV.
It is unclear which member-state of the Schengen Area issued a visa to Vismuradov. He was reported to have taken a return flight from Berlin arriving in Chechnya on 4 September.
According to Novaya Gazeta, men suspected by the authorities of being queer have implicated the Chechen Special Rapid Response Team in the illegal detentions and torture.
‘In the testimony of at least one victim, who was taken out of Russia and who gave a detailed testimony to the migration services of a European country which granted them international protection, as well as to the Committee Against Torture of the Council of Europe, Vismuradov was named as being directly involved in the repression’, they wrote.
[Read on OC Media: Witnesses detail continuing anti-queer purge in Chechnya]
Timur Dugazayev, who refers to himself as Ramzan Kadyrov’s representative in Germany and who accompanied Vismuradov to Rotterdam, criticised media reports surrounding Vismuradov’s visit. He accused the media of ‘double standards’ in reporting on this instead of covering the ongoing persecution of Muslims in Myanmar.
‘An uproar was raised over the arrival of Abuzayd ‘the Patriot’ Vismuradov in Europe, that he participated in the torture of people of nontraditional [sexual] orientation! [Without] asking the relevant authorities and without any evidence. As if there were no other problems in the world!’, Dugazayev wrote on his Instagram page.
[Read on OC Media: Russian Muslims break with Kremlin over Myanmar]
Dutch queer rights group COC Netherlands called on the Foreign Minister Bert Koenders to cancel Vismuradov’s visa and to investigate whether he could be arrested for human rights abuses, while the Rotterdam wing of the Dutch Labour Party challenged Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb to explain whether he had been aware of Vismuradov’s upcoming visit, Kavkaz.Realii reported.
In August, the Dutch government announced that it would make it easier for queer people from Chechnya to claim asylum in the Netherlands.