Fifteen young men were detained about two weeks ago in the Chechen city of Urus-Martan, according to North Caucasian news website Kavkaz.Realii. The men have not been officially charged, but are being held in the local police station as a ‘preventative measure’.
One of the detained men, together with his friends, was learning how to operate a drone when he accidently flew it over Russian military unit No. 6779 on Usmanov Street in eastern Urus-Martan. The military found it and as the device wasn’t equipped with a camera, they returned it to the owner.
Local police were informed about the incident, following which they detained the owner of the device and all his friends who were present at that time, based on contact information they retrieved from the detainee’s mobile phone. So far, 15 people have been detained.
Preventive detentions based on contacts found in mobile phones have become a common phenomenon in Chechnya. Upon detention, police inspect all electronic devices, such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets, in order to find links between the owner and suspected radicals, militants, or sectarians. Detainees are usually held at police stations for several days, where religious leaders and police officers talk with them. The detainees are later included in surveillance lists.