Two men have been killed by the Russian authorities in Chechnya after a reported attack on a police station.
According to the Russian Investigative Committee in Chechnya, the authorities received information of armed men in a house in the town of Gudermes. They said that upon attending the scene on the night of 28–29 March, the men opened fire and were killed in return fire. They said they had opened an investigation for encroaching on the lives of law enforcement officers.
However, there have been widespread reports, including on opposition Telegram channels, that the two men may have been extrajudicially executed after opening fire on the town’s central police station.
The attackers had arrived in a car with Ingushetian licence plates, claimed Chechen opposition Telegram channel NIYSO, which was the first to publish information about the attack.
1ADAT, a Chechen Telegram channel and social movement, told OC Media that the attackers had not yet been identified.
‘At the moment, their identity has not been 100% established. There are many different messages, but it will probably not be possible to verify them. The dead were local and in no way is this incident connected with Ingushetia’, said 1ADAT.
About an hour after the attack was made public, NIYSO reported that abductions had begun in the town, following the arrival of law enforcement and military forces. The Chechen government has frequently been accused of abducting and torturing individuals seen as opposing the authorities.
‘To deal with two people, the Kadyrovites gathered all their military equipment (including armoured personnel carriers) and all [law enforcement] units available to them’, reported NIYSO. ‘It is possible that they also enlisted the use of aeroplanes, so you yourselves understand their animalistic fear of death.’
1ADAT similarly reported that after the attackers were killed, a large group of Kadyrov’s paramilitary law enforcement officers were sent to the town with military equipment, after which the town was closed.
Head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov arrived in the town the same night, accompanied by Head of Security Abuzaid Vismuradov, Interior Minister Ruslan Alkhanov, and his 15-year-old son.
Torture and humiliation
Opposition-aligned channels have reported that the two men were tortured and killed following the attack. Commentators also raised fears regarding the well-being of the attackers’ relatives.
Videos circulated in Telegram channels showed law enforcement officers removing the trousers from an attacker who had been killed, while another showed the commander of the Akhmat Kadyrov special police regiment, Zamid Chalayev, dragging a dead man by his beard.
Opposition blogger Tumso Abdurakhmanov also claimed that the dead men were tortured.
‘From the footage published by Kadyrov on his channel, one can definitely say that one of the dead […] was definitely tortured and killed well in advance of the shooting’, wrote Abdurakhmanov. ‘There are bruises on his inner thighs, most likely from clubbing, and his wounds do not bleed, indicating that he was already dead at the time of these wounds, which cannot be said about the second deceased. His blood is fresh and he was clearly alive at the time of his injuries.’
Officials struck a notably different tone during the incident, reporting that the situation in the town was calm, with Ramzan Kadyrov later posting a video thanking law enforcement officers for ‘eliminating’ the men.
‘Nothing happened, the demons appeared somewhere, we immediately recognised and destroyed them. There are no losses, we work quickly, and do not even let the demons breathe’, said the Head of Chechnya.
Another video posted by the regional head showed the dead being dragged along the ground half-naked before Kadyrov and his son.
1ADAT told OC Media that there was a possibility that relatives of the attackers had been or would be kidnapped.
‘Kadyrov’s forces will start kidnapping relatives. Kadyrov himself stated this in the video, saying “It’s a lie that the parents did not know about the intentions of their children”. This means there will be mass [direction of] responsibility and oppression towards relatives and friends, as Kadyrov likes to do.’