A former employee of one of the Chechen courts spoke about justice in the republic. He himself went through abduction by the Kadyrovites and torture in order to obtain a passport, paid a huge ransom for his life and was able to escape from Russia. His story was published by the SOS Crisis Group human rights project, founded by human rights activists and activists who have been helping people since 2017, when it became known about the mass persecution of LGBTQ+ people in Chechnya.
In the material, the story is told on behalf of a Chechen, it is reported that he is 28 years old. He is introduced as Timur - the name has been changed. Timur was born in one of the cities of Chechnya, but his childhood and youth were spent in another region in southern Russia. After returning to his parents in the Chechen city, Timur felt that there were other orders in which he did not fit.
“Some people complained. They were taken away, beaten, and they no longer complained.”
At the insistence of his father, he got a job at a local court as a session secretary, but he soon realized that almost all cases were fabricated there. This is especially true for custody issues - in litigation over child custody, decisions are always made in favor of the man. Moving up the career ladder is easy, says Timur: you can become a judge for five million rubles. Working in court is profitable - with a small salary, you can make good money on bribes.
Like all government employees in Russia, Chechen court workers were forced to attend various public events, Timur says. In particular, a rally in support of Ramzan Kadyrov. “We were gathered in the morning and told that we need to go to the rally, and whoever does not go will be fired. I came to this rally and I felt disgusted with myself, so I turned around and left. However, I was not fired after that, and I quit on my own.”
Timur has a difficult relationship with his parents. They do not like Kadyrov, but they are afraid to criticize him aloud even in the family circle and scold their son for such conversations. Previously, my father had a big, good business, but one day Kadyrov wanted to build his own shops on this site, and everything was demolished. “Some people complained. They were taken away, beaten, and they no longer complained,” says Timur.
“In the search history found Aviasales and memes with Hachimuchi”
They came for Timur after he received a passport.
“They came to me with a search at night. My mother called me with the words “they want to talk to you”, I went downstairs - there were security forces and two men in civilian clothes. They explained to us that they were checking people who had recently received international passports. They delved into nightstands, things, cabinets, checked browser history. They saw that I was reading opposition channels, and in the search history they found Aviasales. They asked if I was flying somewhere and why. In the end, they said that I would go with them.”
Timur was taken to the building where the Rapid Response Group is located. In Chechnya, this structure performs different functions - it stands on the roads and kidnaps people. Upon arrival, the guy's phone was taken away, they demanded a password and studied the content. We found, for example, memes with Gachimuchi, which aroused suspicion: comic pictures are photos of half-naked men from low-budget gay porn films of the 90s.
They also looked for Chechens in contacts. They found a friend of Timur, after which they tried to find out where he was, punched through the base, went to his house. A friend worked the night shift, but his mother and Timur said that he went to Krasnodar, so the guy was never found. According to Timur, he had already been detained, taken directly to Kadyrov for interrogation. Timur himself thought that they were detained "for atheism", but the Kadyrovites said, "because he is gay."
“I think Kadyrov loves some kind of “special” occasions, so that they bring him to personally talk. I think he likes it - to feel like a king. Together with a friend, they brought another guy and a girl, the girl belonged to LGBT+ people. This place is located underground, in the gym of the residence in Grozny. The friend was later released, but I don’t know about the other two.”
Timur himself was tortured the very next day after the first interrogation. According to him, in the interrogation room there were three sticks designed to hang people, they can also be used to beat people - one of the interrogators threatened Timur with such a stick.
The beatings really started soon. The guy, according to him, was beaten on the shoulders with a plastic pipe, demanding to agree with all the charges that were announced to him. “He asks a question, I deny, he hits and repeats - and so on until I start to agree. They pinned everything on me, even some meetings with terrorists. They were constantly coming up with different theories and just wanted me to at least take something on myself.
When, during the first interrogation, Timur hinted at the fact that what was happening was “not entirely legal,” he was shown a machine that shocked him and was told that one wire was a lawyer, and the other was a judge. To the guy’s statement about his innocence, they answered him: “We don’t have innocent people - you either tell your guilt or invent it yourself.”
“There were inscriptions in the cell. One girl said goodbye to her mother
One of those who helped torture Timur was his cousin. Judging by the story, he did not take a direct part in the torture, but he carried out orders. In particular, he took Timur to a room, which was actually a solitary cell, where the guy ended up staying for 18 days. The size of the chamber is four steps forward and four steps from wall to wall. An iron bed with a wooden board on it. There is a light bulb, but there is no light, so the "prisoner" sits in the dark.
“There were many inscriptions in the cell of those who sat before me. On a wooden board was written: “You yourself are to blame for what happened. Don't break." There was an inscription left by some girl - I don’t remember how I understood that it was a girl, and what exactly was written there, but she said goodbye to her mother and asked her not to show her pain.
Two weeks later, according to Timur, employees of the Chechen state channel Grozny arrived. The “journalist” told the guy that everything was fine in Chechnya, that Kadyrov wanted to make the republic great. And Timur, who received a foreign passport, acted badly, and he does not need to leave, because "in Europe they marry dogs." “The journalist told me what I was wrong about, and I answered that I did not know this or that I was wrong. This was filmed on camera. The story was never shown on TV.”
After that, parents were brought to Timur. They were also told about all the "crimes" of Timur - and about the alleged moderation of the opposition channel, and about other sins that the Kadyrovites invented. The mother stood up for her son, saying that he did not do what he is credited with. Timur was also accused of being LGBT+. His parents were allowed to pick him up, but on the way home, Timur was forced to withdraw 600 thousand rubles from the card, which remained from the sale of the car. This money became a ransom for him.
After that, a district police officer came to him for a month and checked whether Timur was at home. I told my parents that I was afraid to be in the republic. Especially considering that I was accused of being LGBT +, usually they kidnap me again for this in order to earn twice the money. Parents did not understand, there was a scandal. My father said, "Better you stay than go and make trouble for us."
As a result, the guy managed to escape from the country, he was helped by human rights activists, they also bought a ticket. Timur did not contact his family - the cousin, who helped the people who kept Timur in custody, had already traveled to Ukraine and returned from the war with the rank of commander. Timur himself wants to get a law degree.