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Chechen victim of expulsion denied burial in his homeland

10 February 2017

Chechen authorities have refused to allow the burial of a man from the Chechen village of Prigorodnoye, Aslanbek Bakharchiyev, in his home village. Bakharchiyev passed away on 9 February, in Kalmykia, in south western Russia. He was expelled from his village two months ago by the Chechen authorities.

Bakharchiyev was the father of a young man who left to Syria over a year ago to join the Islamic State. The young man’s decision was the main reason for the expulsion of the whole family from Chechnya, which was triggered by an incident in mid-December 2016 in Grozny in which a group of young people attacked police officers.

After all of the attackers, who were later accused of being affiliated with the Islamic State, were killed, the authorities claimed that their actions had been coordinated from Syria by Bakharchiyev’s son. Soon after, the authorities organised a gathering of residents of Prigorodnoye and forced them to make the decision to expel the whole family from the republic.

After the expulsion, the Bakharchiyev family first moved to neighbouring Ingushetia, from where local authorities then asked them to leave, fearing worsening relations with Grozny. The family was forced to leave at night, in winter, and travel to Kalmykia, to a distant relative. Bakharchiyev passed away soon after the trip; he had been suffering from stage 4 cancer.

After his death, the family contacted the Chechen authorities asking to be allowed to bury him in their family cemetery in their home village. The request was denied, and so Bakharchiyev was buried in a cemetery in the Ingush village of Aki-Yurt, which lies on the border with Chechnya.