A military court in Rostov-on-Don on Tuesday sentenced two residents of Grozny, Ibragim Donashev and Nazhmudin Dudiyev, to 19 and 18 years in prison, respectively, for ‘killing 84 and wounding four Russian military personnel’ during the Second Chechen War.
Dudiyev and Donashev, who were detained in Grozny in November 2018, were charged with armed rebellion, banditry, and assault on the lives of law enforcement officials.
The court verdict states that in 1999, Dudiyev and Donashev joined one of the ‘gangs led by [Shamil] Basayev and others’, and that they were trained ‘in handling various types of small arms’.
Shamil Basaev was a major military commander during the First and Second Chechen Wars. He was accused by Russian authorities of organising a series of hostage-takings, including one at a school in Beslan, North Ossetia in September, 2004, which resulted in 333 deaths.
He was killed in an airstrike by the Russian military in the village of Yekazhevo in Ingushetia on July 10, 2006.
The court found Dudiev, Donashev and ‘other gang members’ guilty of participating in an ‘attack’ on the 6th company of the 76th division of the Russian airborne troops in February 2000, which resulted in the deaths of 84 servicemen.
‘Almost completely wiped out’
From February 29 to March 1, 2000, near the mountain village of Ulus-Kert in Shatoi region in southern Chechnya, the 6th company of the 76th division of the Russian Ministry of Defense was almost completely wiped out in a battle with Chechen fighters.
During the battles, 84 of the 90 Russian servicemen who were there were killed.
[Read on OC Media: Memorial to slain Russian soldiers erected in Chechnya]
Russian media, citing the Ministry of Defense, claimed that about 2,000 Chechen fighters participated in the battle against that single company.
The 2016 verdict of the Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic against two others accused of participating in the battle, who were also found guilty of the deaths of 84 paratroopers stated that there were ‘at least 200’ ‘members of illegal armed groups’ present during the fighting.
Tagir Shamsutdinov, the lawyer of Najmudin Dudiev, told OC Media that the guilt of his client was not proved during the investigation.
‘I believe that the guilt of my client has not been proven, and he is innocent’, he said.
Shamsutdinov stated that many witnesses questioned in court claimed that during the period ‘when they charged my client with participating in the gang’, Dudiev was at home, ‘building himself a house’ and ‘helping neighbors’.
The lawyer said that any further actions by the defence will only be taken after they receive a copy of the verdict. ‘When we get a copy, I will consult with my client and decide how to proceed’, he said.
Relatives of the two convicted men appealed repeatedly to Chechnya Head Ramzan Kadyrov with video messages, asking him to help them ‘save their relatives from injustice’.
In one of the videos, a man who introduces himself as Abubakr Dudiyev, tells Kadyrov that Dudiev and Donashev ‘are being put away for a long time’ because of ‘an unfair charge’.
‘If you do not help us, no one will help’, he says.
Kadyrov has not publicly replied or reacted to the appeals.
Since 2012, 14 people have been sentenced by Russian courts to lengthy sentences on charges related to the deaths of the ‘Pskov paratroopers’.
One of those convicted, Ayub Tuntuev, died in a prison colony in the Vladimir region in March, 2019.
Tuntuev did not plead guilty and claimed he was tortured. His relatives also reported finding signs of torture on his body after his death.