Постановление ЕСПЧ от 30.01.2014 «Дело «Микиева и другие (Mikiyeva and Others) против Российской Федерации» (жалобы N 61536/08, 6647/09, 6659/09, 63535/10 и 15695/11) [англ.]

EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
FIRST SECTION
CASE OF MIKIYEVA AND OTHERS v. RUSSIA
(Applications Nos. 61536/08, 6647/09, 6659/09, 63535/10 and 15695/11)
JUDGMENT <*>
(Strasbourg, 30.I.2014)

———————————

<*> This judgment will become final in the circumstances set out in Article 44 § 2 of the Convention. It may be subject to editorial revision.

In the case of Mikiyeva and Others v. Russia,
The European Court of Human Rights (First Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:
Isabelle , President,
Khanlar Hajiyev,
Julia Laffranque,
Linos-Alexandre Sicilianos,
Erik ,
Ksenija ,
Dmitry Dedov, judges,
and  Nielsen, Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 7 January 2014,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
PROCEDURE

 

  1. The case originated in five applications (see Appendix I) against the Russian Federation lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms («the Convention») by Russian nationals («the applicants»), on the dates indicated below in Appendix I.
  2. The applicants were represented before the Court by lawyers from the NGO Stichting Russian Justice Initiative («SRJI») (in partnership with the NGO Astreya), Mr D. Itslayev, a lawyer practising in Grozny, the Chechen Republic; and Mr M. Magomedov, a lawyer practising in Khasavyurt, the Republic of Dagestan. The Russian Government («the Government») were represented by Mr G. Matyushkin, Representative of the Russian Federation at the European Court of Human Rights.
  3. The applicants alleged that on various dates between 2000 and 2004 their five relatives had been abducted by State servicemen in Chechnya and that no effective investigation of the matter had taken place.
  4. On 3 November 2011 the applications were communicated to the Government.

 

THE FACTS

 

  1. The circumstances of the case

 

  1. The applicants in the present cases are Russian nationals residing in various settlements in the Chechen Republic, Russia. They are close relatives of individuals who disappeared in the Chechen Republic after their alleged abduction from their homes in 2001 — 2004 by groups of servicemen. According to the applicants, the servicemen had belonged to the Russian federal troops, as they had been in camouflage uniforms, had had Slavic features and had spoken unaccented Russian. Armed with machineguns, the servicemen had broken into the applicants’ homes, searched the premises, checked the identity documents of the applicants’ relatives and taken the latter away in military vehicles, such as armoured personnel carriers (APCs), UAZ cars or URAL lorries. According to witnesses, after being abducted the applicants’ relatives were taken to the main federal military base in Khankala. None of the applicants have seen their missing relatives thereafter.
  2. The applicants complained about the abductions to law-enforcement bodies, and official investigations were opened. The proceedings were repeatedly suspended and resumed, and have remained pending for several years without attaining any tangible results. The investigations mainly consisted of making requests for information and formal requests for operational search measures to be carried out by counterparts in various parts of Chechnya and other regions of the North Caucasus. The requests received either negative responses or no replies at all.
  3. From the documents submitted it appears that the relevant State authorities were unable to identify the State servicemen allegedly involved in the arrests or abductions.
  4. In their observations the Government did not challenge the allegations as presented by the applicants. At the same time, they stated that there was no evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that State agents had been involved in the abductions.
  5. Below are the summaries of the facts relevant to each individual application. The personal details of the applicants and their disappeared relatives are shown in Appendix I.

 

  1. Application No. 61536/08 Mikiyeva and Menchayeva v. Russia
  1. Abduction of Mr Isa Mikiyev

 

  1. The facts of this application are linked to the case of Atabayeva and Others v. Russia, No. 26064/02, 12 June 2008, which concerned the abduction of Mr Ramzan Kukuyev together with the applicants’ relative, Mr Isa Mikiyev, during a sweeping-up operation that took place on 3 May 2001 in the settlement of Tsa-Vedeno. The following account of the events is based on the statements provided by the applicants, their relatives and neighbours.
  2. According to the applicants, on 3 May 2001 at around 7 a.m. federal servicemen started a sweeping-up operation in the settlement of Tsa-Vedeno. A group of thirty armed servicemen, some of whom were wearing masks, arrived at the applicants’ house in two APCs and a URAL lorry and broke in. They took Mr Isa Mikiyev and his son, Mr Kh. Mikiyev, outside, forced them into one of the APCs and drove in the direction of Grozny. The applicants followed the intruders. On the road out of the village the servicemen freely passed through a checkpoint which was sealed off that day. When asked by the applicants the officers manning the checkpoint denied seeing the vehicles and suggested that the applicants return home. Upon their return home, the applicants saw groups of servicemen conducting identity checks in almost every courtyard. There were many military vehicles, including APCs, and helicopters were flying over the settlement. As a result of the operation, the servicemen took away another eighteen men. All men were subsequently released, except for Mr Isa Mikiyev and a few others (see Atabayeva and others, cited above, § 16). The last of the detained men was released on 21 May 2001.
  3. According to Mr Kh. Mikiyev, the applicants’ relative and Mr Isa Mikiyev’s son, on 3 May 2001 the abductors took them to the checkpoint, where both of them, along with the eighteen other detained residents of Tsa-Vedeno, were put in a military helicopter and taken to the main military base of the federal forces in Khankala. All of the detainees, except for Mr Kh. Mikiyev and his neighbour, Mr A.S., were dropped off at the base, whereas those two men were taken on further to Serzhen-Yurt.
  4. In the afternoon on 3 May 2001 the Tsa-Vedeno district military commander’s office informed the applicants that their relative Mr Kh. Mikiyev and Mr A.S. were in Shali. A local policeman brought them home in the evening.
  5. Other detainees told the applicants that in Khankala they had been placed together with Mr Isa Mikiyev in a cellar. Servicemen had questioned the detainees one by one and beaten them up.
  6. The applicants have not seen Mr Isa Mikiyev since his abduction on 3 May 2001.

 

  1. Official investigation

 

  1. The Government submitted copies of documents from criminal case file No. 37061 opened into the abduction of three men: Mr Isa Mikiyev, Mr Ramzan Kukuyev and Mr Kh.K. The relevant information may be summarised as follows.
  2. On 25 November 2001 the Vedeno district prosecutor’s office opened criminal case No. 37061 relating to the three men’s abduction under Article 126 of the Russian Criminal Code (kidnapping).
  3. On 17 December 2002 the investigation file was destroyed in a fire that broke out as a result of an attack by illegal armed groups on the prosecutor’s office.
  4. On 25 August 2004 the district prosecutor ordered that the investigation file in case No. 37061 be restored.
  5. On 12 August 2005 the second applicant was granted victim status.
  6. In August 2005 the investigator sent information requests to various authorities asking whether they had conducted a special operation on 3 May 2001. These requests did not yield any pertinent information.
  7. In 2005 and 2008 the investigator questioned the applicants and a number of their relatives and neighbours. They also questioned Mr Isa Mikliyev’s son, Mr Kh. Mikiyev, who had been released after the abduction on 3 May 2001. All the witnesses gave statements similar to those furnished by the applicants to the Court.
  8. On 2 October 2006 the investigator examined the crime scene. No evidence was collected.
  9. In 2008 the investigator forwarded requests to a number of police departments and hospitals in Chechnya asking for information on the whereabouts of the applicants’ relative, his possible arrest or detention by law-enforcement agencies, the discovery of his body or any medical treatment that he might have received. Negative replies were given. The investigator also questioned the applicants and other witnesses again.
  10. On an unspecified date the head of the Vedeno department of the interior (the «OVD») issued a report, which in its relevant parts reads as follows:

«…During operational search measures it was established that on 3 May 2001 in the settlement of Tsa-Vedeno… unidentified servicemen conducted a special operation, as a result of which about ten men were arrested and taken away. [Mr Isa Mikiyev, Mr Khampasha Kukuyev Mr and Mr Ramzan Kukuyev], [who were among the arrested persons], did not return home…

…During operational search measures it was established that the special operation was conducted by servicemen from the DON-2 military unit of the Russian Ministry of the Interior stationed near Shali…»

  1. The investigation has been suspended and resumed on a number of occasions and is still pending.

 

  1. The applicants’ contact with the national authorities

 

  1. On 27 April 2002 upon the second applicant’s request the Vedeno District Court declared Mr Isa Mikiyev a missing person, stating, in particular, that «on 3 May 2001 unidentified Russian servicemen took away Mr Isa Mikiyev in an APC, who has been missing since».
  2. In February 2003 the applicants complained to the Chechnya prosecutor’s office about the abduction and requested assistance in their search.
  3. In February 2008 the first applicant requested that the Vedeno district prosecutor’s office inform her of the progress of the investigation. In March 2008 she was informed that the investigation had been suspended and resumed on several occasions and was still pending.

 

  1. Application No. 6647/09 Ibragimova v. Russia
  1. Abduction of Mr Artur Ibragimov

 

  1. At the material time Shali was surrounded by military checkpoints and vehicles required authorisation to enter and leave the town. The applicant lived with her nephew, Mr Artur Ibragimov, in the Rostov region, where he worked in a construction company. The following account of the events is based on the statements provided by the applicant, her relatives and neighbours.
  2. In May 2003 the applicant and Mr Artur Ibragimov went to Shali as the latter had to renew his passport. They stayed in Shali at the house of the grandmother of Mr Artur Ibragimov. Mr Artur Ibragimov applied for the renewal and had an appointment to receive the new passport scheduled on 18 July 2003 at the Shali ROVD (the Shali district department of the interior). However, on 16 July 2003 at around 5 p.m. a grey UAZ «tabletka» minivan without registration numbers and a white VAZ-21099 car with blackened windows arrived at their house. A group of twelve to fifteen servicemen in helmets and camouflage uniforms got out of the vehicles. They spoke unaccented Russian and were armed with machineguns, pistols and special firearms with silencers used by the Special Forces, known as «vintorezy» (винторезы). The servicemen quickly searched the premises looking for firearms. Then they put Mr Artur Ibragimov in the UAZ and drove in the direction of Serzhen-Yurt. The servicemen also used an APC which had been parked in the neighbourhood and which departed in the direction of Avtury. One of the servicemen lost his identification tag when leaving.
  3. On 17 July 2003 the head of the Shali administration told the applicant that the servicemen could have belonged to special division No. 1 or No. 2 (Дивизия особого назначения N 1 or N 2, known as ДОН-1 or 2) of the Federal Security Service (the «FSB»), stationed in the outskirts of Avtury. The Shali district military commander’s office denied having any information about the events to the applicant.
  4. On 18 July 2003 the applicant handed over the serviceman’s identification tag to an investigator from the Shali district prosecutor’s office, who promised to have it examined by experts.
  5. On an unspecified date in 2004 the applicant learnt from witnesses whose name was not disclosed that her nephew had been taken to the main federal military base in Khankala and then allegedly transferred to Chernokozovo detention centre in Chechnya.
  6. The applicant has not seen Mr Artur Ibragimov since his abduction on 16 July 2003.

 

  1. Official investigation

 

  1. The Government submitted copies of documents from criminal case file No. 22109 opened into the abduction of Mr Artur Ibragimov. The relevant information may be summarised as follows.
  2. On 17 July 2003 the applicant complained to the Shali district prosecutor’s office about the abduction of Mr Artur Ibragimov by armed men in camouflage uniforms.
  3. On 18 July 2003 an investigator examined the crime scene. No evidence was collected.
  4. On the same date the investigator questioned the applicant, Mr Artur Ibragimov’s grandmother, his mother-in-law and four neighbours who had witnessed the abduction. All of them stated that Mr Artur Ibragimov had been abducted by armed men in camouflage uniforms who had arrived in a grey UAZ «tabletka» minivan without licence plates and a white VAZ-21099 car with a licence plate, the last numbers of which were «310». From the documents submitted it appears that the investigators’ subsequent attempts to identify the owners of the VAZ-21099 were to no avail.
  5. On 28 July 2003 the Shali district prosecutor’s office opened criminal case No. 22109 into the abduction of Mr Artur Ibragimov under Article 126 of the Criminal Code (kidnapping).
  6. On 12 August 2003 the applicant was granted victim status.
  7. On 19 August 2003 the investigator sent information requests to various authorities requesting information about Mr Artur Ibragimov and his possible arrest or detention. Replies in the negative were received.
  8. On 30 August 2003 the Shali FSB informed the investigators that they had not arrested Mr Artur Ibragimov and that they had no information concerning his involvement in illegal armed groups.
  9. On several occasions, namely on 11 October and 12 December 2003 and then on 14 February, 6 March and 26 April 2004, the military prosecutor’s office of military unit No. 20116 replied to the applicant that the involvement of servicemen in the abduction had not been established. They also denied that a special operation had been conducted in Shali at the relevant time.
  10. In October 2003 the applicant requested that the authorities establish whether Mr Artur Ibragimov was being held in detention facilities in the Rostov Region. On 5 November 2003 the Rostov Region Department for the Execution of Punishments stated that Mr Artur Ibragimov was not detained in temporary detention facilities in their region.
  11. On 27 November 2003 the North Caucasus FSB replied to the applicant that the military units stationed in Chechnya were not equipped with VAZ-21099 cars and that internal troops had not been involved in special operations in Shali. On 17 March, 8 June and 30 October 2004 the Military prosecutor’s office of the United Group Alignment (the «UGA») wrote to the applicant denying any involvement of federal forces in the abduction.
  12. On 30 April 2004 the Shali FSB informed the investigators that they had no information concerning the reasons for Mr Artur Ibragimov’s arrest, his whereabouts or the abductors’ identities.
  13. On 30 September and 14 October 2005 the Shali ROVD informed the applicant that they had opened an operational search file in connection with her nephew’s abduction and taken a number of operational search measures.
  14. On 16 December 2008 the Shali FSB replied to the investigators’ information request of November 2008, stating that there was information concerning Mr Artur Ibragimov’s involvement in illegal armed groups between 2003 and 2006. The relevant parts of the letter read as follows:

«…According to the information [we have gathered], from approximately the middle of 2003 [Mr Artur Ibragimov] was a member of an armed group in the Vedeno district under the command of Mr Khuseyn Gakayev… (aka «Dunga»), active in the outskirts of the settlement of Elistanzhi… [Mr Artur Ibragimov] was responsible for the supply of food, weapons and ammunition… In particular, he attended a meeting of leaders of illegal armed groups, as a result of which Mr Shamil Basayev appointed Mr Huseyn Gakayev as a leader of the «southern sector» of the Vedeno district.

On 12 July 2003 [Mr Artur Ibragimov] was in Shali and with the assistance of [Mr I.G., a police officer from the Vedeno district] attempted to move firearms from Shali to Elistanzhi in the Vedeno district.

On 15 — 16 July 2003 [Mr Artur Ibragimov] went to Elistanzhi by public transport.

After [Mr Artur Ibragimov’s] departure, on 18 July 2003 [the applicant], knowing [his] real whereabouts and following his instructions, informed the duty office of the Shali OVD by phone that on 16 July 2003 at about 5 p.m. [Mr Artur Ibragimov] had been abducted by unidentified men.

According to the information [gathered], this was done in order to conceal [Mr Artur Ibragimov’s] involvement in illegal armed groups and the crimes committed [by them].

As of April 2006 there was reliable information that [Mr Artur Ibragimov] was involved in the illegal armed group of [Mr Huseyn Gakayev,] which provides grounds to believe that [Mr Artur Ibragimov] could not have been abducted in 2003. Since then [Mr Artur Ibragimov] has not come to the attention of the Chechnya FSB…»

  1. On 7 May 2009 the investigators decided to verify the above information and summoned officers of the Vedeno ROVD for questioning concerning the firearms transfer by Mr Artur Ibragimov and Mr I.G. in July 2003.
  2. On 2 June 2009 the investigators questioned two officers of the Vedeno OVD, both of whom stated that the Vedeno OVD had not uncovered any information about a weapons transfer from Shali to Elistanzhi by Mr Artur Ibragimov and I.G. in July 2003.
  3. From the documents submitted it is clear that the investigation neither carried out an expert evaluation of the serviceman’s identification tag nor verified the theory of Mr Arthur Ibragimov’s detention in Khankala and Chernokozovo.
  4. The investigation has been suspended and resumed on numerous occasions. It is still pending.

 

  1. The applicant’s contact with the national authorities

 

  1. From the documents submitted it is evident that since the abduction the applicant has regularly contacted various authorities asking for assistance in the search for her relative and information on the progress of the investigation.
  2. In September 2008 the applicant complained to the Shali prosecutor’s office, asking it to resume the suspended investigation and remedy its shortcomings. On 15 October 2008 the prosecutor’s office informed her that they had accepted her request.

 

  1. Application No. 6659/09 Kosumova and Others v. Russia
  1. Abduction of Mr Ramzan Shaipov and subsequent events

 

  1. At the material time Mr Ramzan Shaipov (also spelt as Shoipov) and the applicants lived in their family home in the settlement of Chiri-Yurt. Ramzan’s mother resided in a neighbouring house. The settlement was under curfew and surrounded by checkpoints. The following account of the events is based on the statements provided by the applicants, their relatives and neighbours.
  2. On 8 May 2004 at about 11 p.m. a convoy of vehicles, including two APCs (one of which had the registration number 233), a UAZ «tabletka» minivan, two NIVA cars, four VAZ cars and a GAZEL minivan, arrived in the neighbourhood. Several groups of up to fifteen armed, masked servicemen in camouflage uniforms got out of the vehicles and stormed into the applicants’ and Mr Ramzan Shaipov’s mother’s houses, as well as three other neighbouring houses.
  3. The servicemen quickly searched Mr Ramzan Shaipov’s mother’s house, locked her inside and left.
  4. Meanwhile, at the applicants’ house, about six servicemen, who spoke unaccented Russian, searched the premises saying that they were looking for Wahhabis or radical Chechen rebels, as they had received information that the applicant’s family subscribed to the tenets of those movements. They checked Mr Ramzan Shaipov’s passport and took him outside. According to the first applicant, she tried to intervene, but one of the servicemen fired at the wall and ordered her to shut up or he would cut her ears off. Afterwards, the intruders beat the first applicant, tied her limbs, sealed her mouth with duct tape and left. Shortly afterwards the applicant managed to set herself free and tried to follow the departing vehicles. She saw them passing through checkpoint number 121 situated between Chiri-Yurt and Novye Atagi.
  5. On 10 May 2004 the Shali district prosecutor’s office denied having any information about the events to the applicants.
  6. The applicants then conducted their own investigation into the abduction. Their acquaintance, Mr N.E., informed them that Mr Ramzan Shaipov had been taken to the FSB station in Avtury upon the order of Mr G., an FSB officer, also known as «Terek». Afterwards, Mr Ramzan Shaipov had been transferred to an FSB station in Stariye Atagi headed by an FSB officer nicknamed «Piton». Both FSB departments acknowledged Mr Ramzan Shaipov’s detention on their premises. At some point «Piton» negotiated Mr Ramzan Shaipov’s release with the applicants in exchange for a machinegun. They agreed for the exchange to take place in the outskirts of Mesker-Yurt by the Rostov-Baku road. At the exchange point «Piton» informed the applicants that Mr Ramzan Shaipov had been transferred to the main federal military base in Khankala and, therefore, he was unable to obtain his release.
  7. The applicants have not seen Mr Ramzan Shaipov since his abduction on 8 May 2004.

 

  1. Official investigation

 

  1. The Government submitted copies of documents from criminal case file No. 36046 into the abduction of Mr Ramzan Shaipov. The relevant information may be summarised as follows.
  2. On 11 May 2004 the first applicant complained to the Shali prosecutor’s office about the abduction of her husband on 8 May 2004 by armed masked men in camouflage uniforms.
  3. On the same date investigators from the Shali district prosecutor’s office examined the crime scene and recovered a bullet from a hole in the wall, which was subsequently subjected to an expert examination. According to the expert report, the bullet was of 9 mm calibre and came from a «Makarov»-type pistol, but it was not possible to identify the exact model due to deformation of the bullet.
  4. The investigators questioned the first applicant and her neighbours. The first applicant gave statements similar to those furnished to the Court. Two of the neighbours, Ms A.I. and Ms Kh.A., stated that on the night of Mr Ramzan Shaipov’s abduction the masked servicemen in camouflage uniforms had also broken into their houses and searched them.
  5. On 15 May 2004 the investigators forwarded information requests to various authorities. However, no pertinent information was received in reply.
  6. On 21 May 2004 the Shali prosecutor’s office opened criminal case No. 36046 into the abduction of Mr Ramzan Shaipov under Article 126 of the Criminal Code (kidnapping).
  7. On 22 May 2004 the investigators decided to question the officers who manned the checkpoint between Chiri-Yurt and Novye Atagi on the night of the abduction and to check the logbook of the checkpoint. Shortly afterwards three of the officers were questioned. All of them stated that on 8 May 2004 at 10.58 p.m. two APCs without registration numbers had passed through the checkpoint without stopping. The vehicles arrived from Novye Atagi and travelled in the direction of Chiri-Yurt. About 800 — 850 metres from the checkpoint the APCs had stopped, unidentified men had got out of them and taken up a defensive position. About 40 minutes later a convoy consisting of two APCs, four NIVA cars, one UAZ «tabletka» car and a GAZEL minivan had passed through the checkpoint in the opposite direction from Chiri-Yurt to Novye Atagi. All the vehicles had been without registration numbers. The investigator also examined the logbook of the checkpoint. From its contents it appeared that on 8 May 2004 at 10.54 p.m. two APCs and on the same date at 11.42 p.m. two APCs, four NIVA cars, one UAZ «tabletka» car and a GAZEL minivan had passed through the checkpoint without stopping; the vehicles had not had registration numbers.
  8. On 24 May 2004 the first applicant was granted victim status in the criminal case.
  9. In June 2004 the investigator questioned several witnesses. In particular, the applicants’ neighbour, Ms L.A., stated that on 8 May 2004 at about 11 p.m. servicemen had broken into her house and searched it. They had told her that they were looking for «Ramzan», but she had replied that nobody with that name lived at her house. Later, she had learnt that the servicemen had abducted Mr Ramzan Shaipov.
  10. In September 2004, June 2005 and April 2006 the investigator questioned several witnesses again and resent information requests to various authorities.
  11. The investigation has been suspended and resumed on several occasions and is still pending.

 

  1. The applicants’ complaints lodged before the national authorities following the opening of the criminal investigation

 

  1. From the documents submitted it is clear that since 2004 the first applicant has regularly contacted various authorities asking for assistance in the search for her husband and information on the progress of the investigation. In reply she was informed that the investigation was in progress and operational search measures were under way to solve the crime.
  2. On 4 June and 9 October 2008 the first applicant applied to the investigators for access to the investigation file but to no avail.

 

  1. Application No. 63535/10 Batariyeva v. Russia
  1. Abduction of Mr Zelimkhan Batariyev

 

  1. In 2001 the applicant’s son Mr Zelimkhan Batariyev was studying in Grozny and rented a flat there. According to the applicant, on the night of 4 May 2001 Russian servicemen conducted a special operation to arrest a Mr T. who resided in the same block of flats as Mr Zelimkhan Batariyev. A number of armed servicemen in camouflage uniforms cordoned off the neighbourhood in their APCs and UAZ cars. They arrested Mr T. and a number of his relatives, as well as Mr Zelimkhan Batariyev and several other young men and women who lived in the block of flats. It was claimed that some of the people arrested belonged to illegal armed groups.
  2. On 6 May 2001 Mr B.S. and Mr T.S., brothers, who had been arrested on 4 May 2001 at the Grozny central market and subsequently released, contacted the applicant. They told her that the servicemen had taken them, together with Mr Zelimkhan Batariyev, to the main federal military base in Khankala. The servicemen had beaten them up and suggested that Mr Zelimkhan Batariyev’s relatives pay a ransom to have him released.
  3. In June 2001 the applicant spoke to Mr Kh.I., who had been detained with Mr Zelimkhan Batariyev in Khankala. The two of them had been detained together for sixteen days in a pit at the military base. Servicemen had repeatedly subjected them to beatings, coercing them to confess to involvement in illegal armed groups. Most of the time the detainees had been blindfolded, their hands tied and they had been allowed to speak only at night.
  4. According to anonymous witnesses, whose identity was not disclosed by the applicant, Mr Zelimkhan Batariyev remained in Khankala until 20 May 2001. Then in July 2001 the applicant met Ms T.Z., whose son, Mr I.Z., had allegedly been detained in Chernokozovo with Mr Zelimkhan Batariyev until October 2001.
  5. In July 2001 the applicant visited Ms Z.D., who had been arrested on the same day as Mr Zelimkhan Batariyev at the block of flats. According to her, she had heard the following exchange in unaccented Russian between servicemen before they took Mr Zelimkhan Batariyev away: «This guy is clean, we might have problems» — «We don’t need live witnesses». Ms Z.D. and her sister had been detained in a building in Grozny. She had recognised Mr Zelimkhan Batariyev among the detainees; he had been on the floor and had looked like he had been beaten up.
  6. The applicant has not seen Mr Zelimkhan Batariyev since his abduction on 4 May 2001.
  7. The applicant did not witness the abduction. The foregoing account is based on the statements provided by Mr Zelimkhan Batariyev’s neighbours, individuals arrested with him on the same day and relatives of the arrested individuals who witnessed the events.

 

  1. Official investigation

 

  1. The Government submitted copies of documents from criminal case file No. 50113 into the abduction of Mr Zelimkhan Batariyev. The relevant information may be summarised as follows.
  2. From the documents submitted it is evident that after Mr Zelimkhan Batariyev’s abduction the applicant complained to various authorities about the disappearance of her son and sought assistance in the search for him.
  3. On 31 July 2002 the Grozny prosecutor’s office opened criminal case No. 50113 under Article 126 of the Criminal Code (kidnapping).
  4. In July 2002 the investigator forwarded requests to various authorities asking for information about Mr Zelimkhan Batariyev’s detention. The request did not yield any information. The investigator also questioned a local resident living in the neighbourhood, who confirmed that a special operation had been conducted in the area in May 2001 and a number of young men living in the same building had been arrested.
  5. On 30 September 2002 the investigation was suspended.
  6. On an unspecified date the proceedings were resumed and on 12 August 2003 the applicant was granted victim status.
  7. On an unspecified date the proceedings were again suspended and then on 27 October 2006 they were resumed.
  8. On 3 November 2006 the applicant was questioned for the first time. The investigator also questioned the applicants’ relatives. They gave statements similar to those submitted before the Court. The investigator sent further information requests to various authorities but to no avail.
  9. On 27 November 2006 the investigation was suspended and then resumed on an unspecified date in 2009, which was followed by questioning of witnesses and forwarding of information requests.
  10. The investigation is still pending.

 

  1. The applicant’s contact with the national authorities

 

  1. From the documents submitted it is clear that between 2002 and 2006 the applicant regularly complained to various authorities about the abduction and asked for assistance in the search. In particular, on 29 August 2006 she complained to the Grozny prosecutor’s office, stating that she had not been yet questioned by the investigators.
  2. On 5 October 2009 the applicant sought access to the investigation file. On 29 April 2010 her request was granted.

95. On 26 October 2010 the applicant complained to the Grozny Zavodskoy District Court, alleging that the investigators had failed to take a number of steps and seeking to have the investigation resumed. The district court dismissed her complaint owing to the resumption of the investigation in the meantime.

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