Man disappears in Grozny after returning to be with family during pandemic

18 May 2020
Eduard Khadzhiyev.

A Chechen man who returned from Moscow to be with his family during the COVID-19 pandemic has been missing for over a month, his mother has told OC Media. Zina Khadzhiyeva said neighbours saw her son, Eduard Khadzhiyev, being taken away by unknown men in military fatigues.

Khadzhiyeva told OC Media that her son had been living and working in Moscow for the past 6 years. 

She said he arrived in Grozny on 3 April after which he spent 14 days in quarantine, a requirement for arrivals from outside Chechnya.

According to her, Eduard disappeared on the morning of 17 April after leaving to the shops with permission from the authorities.

The day after his disappearance, Khadzhiyeva says she appealed to the local police department, who denied they had detained and accepted a missing person report.

On 22 April, Khadzhiyeva also filed an application about her son’s disappearance to the Investigative Committee, the Prosecutor’s Office, and the FSB in Chechnya.

A month later, Khadzhiyeva says she still has not received any information from the authorities about her son’s fate. 

She told OC Media that an officer from the local police department interviewed her as part of her missing person report. She said an investigator from the Investigative Committee also called and said he was examining her application. 

Khadzhiyeva said that there had been no response from the Prosecutor’s Office or the FSB.

Khadzhiyeva said her son had not had any problems with the authorities in the past.

‘I don’t know if the employees [of the security forces] took him away, I thought maybe [they detained him because] he resisted them because he had permission to leave’, Khadzhiyeva told OC Media.

The Staropromyslovsky District police department declined to comment and advised us to submit a written address to the Chechen Ministry of Internal Affairs. OC Media has reached out to the ministry for comment.

The Investigative Department of the Russian Investigative Committee for Chechnya was not immediately reachable for comment.

Khadzhiyeva also appealed to the head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, to help find her son through Instagram, but had so far received no response.

Disappearances in Chechnya

Eduard Khadzhiyev’s disappearance is the latest of many such disappearances in recent years, especially of young men.

In April, the mother of a resident of the Chechen village of Assinovskaya, Magomed Khaykharoyev, asked Kadyrov to help in freeing her son. In her appeal, she claimed that Khaykharoyev had been detained for five months without charge.

‘First, they kept [him] two months in the Zavodskoy Department of Grozny, and two months ago they transferred [him] to Sernovodsk. I put up with it, hoping that this situation was about to be resolved’, the appeal said. Khaykharoyev also recived no response. 

Three residents of Daghestan went missing while on holiday in Grozny on 10 February. 

Nillan Aliyev, 30, Seidaydin Mustafayev, 35, and Khakim Askerov, 62, reportedly went missing after one of them posted a video online mocking Kadyrov.

In the video, one of the missing men, Seidaydin Mustafayev, directly addresses Kadyrov while smoking a cigarette against the backdrop of the Akhmat Kadyrov Mosque in the centre of Grozny. ‘You, bearded puppet, Ramzan, leave this clowning, walk like mortals, as people go, go with people, sheep’, he says.

On 22 February, the Daghestani Ministry of Internal Affairs said that Daghestani police had visited police stations in Grozny and had not found the missing men there.

They reported that the authorities had established that the car in which the three men entered Grozny had not left the city. They also said that the search for the missing continues.

According to Caucasian Knot, Mayrbek Amayev, a relative of Zara Murtazaliyeva, a Chechen woman convicted of preparing a terrorist attack, disappeared in December 2019.

In November 2017, Zelimkhan Dikayev was abducted along with at least six other residents of Chechnya. According to a December 2017 report from Russian rights group Memorial, the abductees were held in ‘inhuman conditions’ on the territory of the third company of the National Guard regiment in the Staropromyslovsky district of Grozny. Their fate is unknown.

Since 2017, people suspected of being queer have also disappeared in Chechnya en masse. In August 2017, the popular Chechen singer Zelimkhan Bakayev went missing. Kadyrov himself later accused the singer’s relatives of murdering him for being queer.

In July 2017, Novaya Gazeta reported the secret mass massacre of at least 27 people in January of that year. According to the author of the article, Yelena Milashina, the detentions were related to the murder of a Chechen police officer on 17 December 2016 by a group of young people.

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