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A court in Rostov-on-Don has sentenced a man to 11 years in prison for aiding to the Islamic State, as well as on drugs and weapons charges. The court found that Ruslan Kasheshov, a resident of Kabardino-Balkaria, had transferred ₽8,000 ($130) to a member of the group.
The Southern District Military Court in southwestern Russia sentenced Kasheshov, on Monday.
At a hearing on 27 December, the state prosecutor stated that in 2015 Kasheshov transferred ₽8,000 ($130) to Yuriy Bitsuyev, ‘a member of the Islamic State’, and thereby financed an illegal armed group.
The prosecution claimed that in the same year, Kesheshov received drugs and a grenade from Bitsuyev and agreed to cooperate with them. Bitsuyev was killed in a special operation in November 2015.
Kasheshov’s lawyers as well as Russian rights group Memorial have argued that the proceedings have been marred by irregularities and allegations of toruture.
Kasheshov, a 32-year-old businessperson, told Memorial that police detained him in June 2018, planting drugs and a grenade in his car. He said that he was taken to the Centre for Combating Extremism where he was tortured into confessing to being a member of the Islamic State.
Kyazim Atabiyev, one of Kesheshov’s lawyers, told OC Media in August that a forensic examination in June 2018 recorded multiple bruises on Kasheshov’s chest, arms and legs.
Atabiyev said that in June 2018, a lawyer from Memorial, Sultan Tilkhigov, filed a complaint to Kabardino–Balkaria’s Investigative Committee regarding the ‘illegal actions by law enforcement officers’.
An investigation was opened into the security forces but has not resulted in any prosecutions.
In July 2019, Memorial suggested that testimony from a ‘secret witness’ that formed the basis for the authorities’ claims that Kasheshov was a member of an illegal armed group was perjured.
The witness, who claimed to be a friend of Kasheshov’s, said Kasheshov had told him that he helped militants by transporting them and supplying them with money and then attempted to recruit him.
In court on 28 December, Atabiyev pointed to several inconsistencies in the charges against Kesheshov.
He said that the ‘secret witness’ testified during the investigation that he met Kasheshov in 2014—2015 in a sushi bar owned by Kasheshov in Nalchik called Tokyo.
Atabiyev told OC Media that he presented a satellite photo and notarial note to the court showing that in 2014–2015, the Tokyo sushi bar and the building in which it was located did not exist. He also showed an Instagram photo from September 2016 announcing the opening of the bar.
According to Atabiyev, the inspection protocol of Kasheshov’s car, which was signed by five witnesses, said that a grenade was found under the passenger’s seat in a man’s purse.
‘However, during the [investigative] experiment, it turned out that the purse with a grenade “seized” from Kasheshov simply did not fit in the gap between the floor and the seat [of the car].’
‘I am very much disappointed with the court's decision. We hoped for the objectivity of the military judges, but they did not take into account any of our arguments in favour of Kasheshov’, Atabiyev said, and vowed to appeal the decision.