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Krasnodar Krai opens investigation into abduction of Chechen government critic

14 January 2021
Salman Terpsukaev.

The authorities in Krasnodar Krai have opened a criminal investigation into the alleged abduction and torture of a Chechen man from the city of Gelendzhik.

In September, a video circulated online showing Salman Tepsurkayev, the moderator of a Telegram channel critical of the authorities, torturing and humiliating himself while apologising for his actions. 

[Read more: Chechen government critic sodomises self with bottle in apology video]

Evidence has since emerged implicating Chechen police officers in the abduction.

Human rights group the Committee Against Torture, who is representing Tepsurkaev’s family, reported on Monday that the Russian Investigative Committee in Gelendzhik, in Krasnodar Krai, had opened an investigation on 27 November for abduction by a group with prior agreement. 

Tepsurkaev was allegedly abducted by unknown men from a hotel in the city on 6 September. His whereabouts remain unknown and it is unclear if he is alive or dead.

One of Tepsurkayev’s relatives, who asked to remain anonymous, told OC Media that investigators had not contacted or questioned his family as part of their investigation. 

‘None of our relatives knows where he is or what is happening with him. His father was taken away and threatened at the very beginning, and if a case was opened, it was purely a formality’, he said. 

‘The investigator would not dare to interrogate the police.’

Involvement of the Chechen government

Since his disappearance in September, evidence has emerged pointing to the Chechen authorities being behind Tepsurkayev’s disappearance. The Head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov has publicly supported the violence against him and Chechen authorities have refused to initiate a criminal investigation into his disappearance

Before his disappearance, Tepsurkayev was one of the moderators of the 1ADAT Telegram channel. The channel frequently publishes information about human rights violations in Chechnya by the republic’s authorities. 

The day after his disappearance, 1ADAT wrote that they had ended their cooperation with Tepsurkayev ‘due to disagreements’. Later, the channel clarified that the disagreements concerned the publication of a video criticising the Russian Duma MP Adam Delimkhanov family, a relative of Chechen Head Ramzan Kadyrov.

On 8 September 1ADAT Telegram channel posted a video from Tepsurkayev's account, in which a young man, who introduced himself as Tepsurkayev, insults himself and other anonymous administrators of the channel. Then he begins to sodomise himself with a glass bottle, explaining that he decided to punish himself.

Several of the abductors who were captured on CCTV have been identified by internet users as police officers. 

Two days after his disappearance, members of Tepsurkayev’s family located his phone to the base of the Akhmat Kadyrov patrol and guard regiment in Grozny, Chechnya.

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