Chechen Whistle-Blower Appeals To Russian Investigators Over Threats By Local Authorities
Tom Balmforth December 09, 2016
MOSCOW -- A man in hiding from local authorities in Russia's Chechen republic has drafted an appeal to federal law enforcement to investigate the death threats he says prompted him to flee the North Caucasus last month.
Ramazan Dzhalaldinov appeared in Moscow before journalists for the first time since his saga began in April, after he asked President Vladimir Putin for help battling local corruption in his village. The video appeal won him prominence across Russia, but condemnation and harassment locally.
The ethnic Avar complained that villagers in Kenkhi had not received promised compensation for the destruction of their homes resulting from Chechnya's two devastating wars with Russia.
After making the accusations, Dzhalaldinov fled to neighboring Daghestan with his family when their home was burned down and they were threatened, although he returned in May after apologizing to Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and publicly retracting his words.
Speaking to journalists while flanked by his lawyer, two prominent human rights workers, and Novaya Gazeta's North Caucasus correspondent on December 9, Dzhalaldinov said he had reached a deal with Chechen authorities to return in May, but that none of the promises from the authorities were upheld.
According to the deal, he and rights workers said, fabricated criminal charges were meant to be dropped against villagers who supported him, while there were promises that Kenkhi residents would receive the compensation they are due for the reconstruction of their village. Neither of these promises materialized, they said.
"We want this situation to be heard, how much can a man wait," asked Yelena Milashina of Novaya Gazeta. "This [press conference] is an appeal to the leadership of Chechnya regarding the restoration of the village of Kenkhi and observing the conditions of the deal that was struck with Ramazan."
"Nothing has been fulfilled, everything has been violated, what's more -- there have again been illegal actions by the Chechen police."
On November 2, Dzhalaldinov said, he was summoned by the police to the capital, Grozny, to attend a meeting that prompted him to flee the republic for the second time.
He said he and his wife met Chechnya's Deputy Interior Minister Apti Alautdinov, who scolded him for communicating with Milashina.
In allegations also written in the text of an appeal to the Investigative Committee, Dzhalaldinov said that Alautdinov told his wife that "his men would kill me." Alautdinov was also alleged to have alluded to the assassinations of critics of Kadyrov, including Sulim and Ruslan Yamadayev, journalist Anna Politkovskaya, and opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.
Dzhalaldinov wrote in his appeal: "General Alautdinov A.A. gave the examples of the Yamadayev brothers, Politkovskaya and Nemtsov, and asked me if I wasn't afraid of sharing their fate. General Alautdinov A.A. also told me that 'your Milashina is next in line' and asked if I was going to stay quiet."
Dzhalaldinov alleged that he was brought back home by the police, who confiscated his passport and telephone, throwing the latter in a river and threatening to throw him in, too. His lawyer Pyotr Zaikin said Dzhalaldinov then fled via a mountain crossing to evade detection.
Dzhalaldinov signed the text of the document addressed to Investigative Committee chief Aleksandr Bastrykin in front of journalists. His lawyer said they would seek state protection for Dzhalaldinov from the Interior Ministry.
Dzhalaldinov's wife and three of his children remain in Kenkhi because, he said, they were afraid of trying to leave.
Copyright (c) 2016. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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