Daghestan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs has published a video on social media of a 14-year-old girl testifying to facing years of sexual abuse at the hands of her neighbours.
The release came as the authorities faced questions over allegations the police tortured one of the suspects into confessing and tortured the victim’s parents into implicating him.
The ministry published the video on its official Instagram page on Sunday. In it, the girl, whose face is blurred, gives her full name as well as the names of the alleged perpetrators.
These include Musa Aliyev, a 50-year-old neighbour of the girl in Mutsalaul, a village in the west of the Russian republic, in Khasavyurt District.
She also says in the video that Aliyev’s family threatened her into remaining silent.
A criminal case was launched in early September after a hospital reported to police that a young girl had suffered a miscarriage.
On 5 September, the girl’s parents were taken to the Kazbekovskiy District police department where, according to them, they were tortured into testifying against Aliyev, who they later insisted was innocent.
On 6 September, Aliyev was taken to the Khasavyurt police station for questioning, where he claims he was tortured into signing a confession to the rape. He was arrested on 15 November and remains in pre-trial detention.
Both Aliyev and the girl’s parents have submitted complaints to the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office accusing the police of torture.
In late October, a criminal case was launched against two officers from the Khasavyurt police department — Ramazan Suleymanov and Yusup Magomedov — for abuse of power and the use of violence. The officers have been placed under house arrest.
[Read more on OC Media: Parents of 14-year-old rape victim ‘tortured into testifying’ in Daghestan]
The investigations into both the allegations of rape and of police brutality are now both being handled by the Investigative Committee of Daghestan.
The committee told OC Media that there were three suspects in the rape investigation but did not give their names.
The girl has been removed from her parents’ care and is currently in a state social centre.
‘To create public opinion’
Abubakar Yangulbayev, a lawyer from the Committee Against Torture who is representing Aliyev in his complaint against the police, told OC Media that the video released by the Interior Ministry was an attempt to deflect attention away from allegations against the police.
He accused the ministry of manipulating the victim into making a false statement and noted that the video only appeared after two police officers were arrested.
Yangulbayev said he believed both the video and the prosecution of his client were designed to save the police from criminal liability. He said that the authorities were now trying to convince the public that Aliyev is a paedophile in order to do this, despite his guilt not having been proved.
Yangulbayev said he had an audio recording of the victim taken in her school in which she admits that she was forced to falsely implicate Musa Aliyev. OC Media was unable to verify the authenticity of the recording.
Yangulbayev said he was preparing to file a defamation lawsuit against Interior Ministry spokesperson Gayan Gariyev for publishing the video.
He also vowed to file a complaint against the ministry for violating the privacy of the girl. The authorities are prohibited under Russian law from identifying victims under the age of 16.
Salimat Kadyrova, a lawyer representing Aliyev, told OC Media that in the girl’s initial testimony on 5 September, she did not mention Musa Aliyev.
According to her, after the girl’s aunt reported the rape to the police, all adult men in the village of Matsalaul were detained. She said Aliyev was taken to the police station under the pretext of a murder investigation.
According to Kadyrova, after the girl did not identify him, he was released.
Kadyrova also said that the girl had repeatedly changed her testimony.
‘The airing of dirty laundry in public’
Saida Sirazhudinova, the president of Caucasus World Development, a local non-profit, told OC Media she believed cases of domestic violence, child abuse, and rape had become more frequent in Daghestan.
‘When there is impunity — violence flourishes. Daghestan is no exception. In fact, society, neighbours, and villagers very often either know about or suspect violence or even a serious crime, but they are always silent’.
According to Sirazhudinova, cases of rape are ‘rarely talked about and reported only as a last resort’.
She said that when she talked about ‘honour killings’, most of the villagers ‘pleaded or even tried to hide the crime’.
‘The publication of the crime is perceived by many as being shameful for the victim and all of her many relatives — “the airing of dirty laundry in public”. Therefore, neighbours who do not want to spoil their relations simply do not interfere.’