By Anna Politkovskaya
14 October 2006
of files cross my desk every day. They are copies of criminal cases
against people jailed for "terrorism" or refer to people who
are still being investigated. Why have I put the word "terrorism"
in quotation marks here?
Because the overwhelming
majority of these people have been "fitted up" as terrorists
by the authorities. In 2006 the practice of "fitting up" people
as terrorists has supplanted any genuine anti-terrorist struggle. And
it has allowed people who are revenge-minded to have their revenge -
on so-called potential terrorists.
Prosecutors and judges are
not acting on behalf of the law and they are not interested in punishing
the guilty. Instead, they work to political order to make the Kremlin's
nice anti-terrorist score sheet look good and cases are cooked up like
This official conveyor belt
that turns out "heartfelt confessions" is great at providing
the right statistics about the "battle against terrorism"
in the north Caucasus (where Chechnya is).
This is what a group of mothers
of convicted young Chechens wrote to me: "In essence, these correctional
facilities (where terrorist suspects are held) have been turned into
concentration camps for Chechen convicts. They are subjected to discrimination
on an ethnic basis. The majority, or almost all of them, have been convicted
on trumped-up evidence.
"Held in harsh conditions,
and humiliated as human beings, they develop a hatred towards everything.
An entire army (of ex-convicts) will return to us with their lives in
ruins and their understanding of the world around them in ruins too..."
In all honesty, I am afraid
of this hatred. I am afraid because, sooner or later, it will burst
into the open. And for the young men who hate the world so much, everyone
will seem like an outsider.
The practice of "fitting
up" terrorists raises questions about two different ideological
approaches. Are we using the law to fight lawlessness? Or are we trying
to match "their" lawlessness with our own?
Recently, at Russia's request,
Ukraine handed over a certain Beslan Gadaev to Moscow. He is a Chechen
and was arrested at the start of August in Crimea during a document
He was living there as a
forced resettler. Here are some excerpts from the letter he sent me
on 29 August: "After being extradited from Ukraine to Grozny (the
Chechen capital) I was taken to a police station and asked whether I
had killed members of Anzor Salikhov's family as well as family members
of Anzor's friend. I swore I had killed nobody and not spilt any blood,
neither Russian nor Chechen. The policemen said with certainty: "No
you are a killer." I again denied it.
"They began to beat
me. At first, they punched me twice in the area of my right eye. While
I was coming to, they tied me up and handcuffed me to a metal bar lodged
behind my knees so I couldn't move my hands, though I was in handcuffs
anyway. Then they took me, or rather they took the metal bar jammed
behind my legs, and suspended me between two stools at a height of about
one metre. As soon as they had me suspended, they attached wires to
my little fingers. They began to administer electric shocks while they
beat me with rubber truncheons wherever they could.
"I don't remember how
long it lasted but I started to lose consciousness due to the pain.
Seeing this, they asked me whether I was ready to talk. I replied that
I would talk but I didn't know what about. I spoke to spare myself from
torture, even for a little while. They took me down, removed the metal
bar, and flung me to the floor. They said 'talk'.
"I said I had nothing
to say. They responded by hitting me with the metal bar in the area
of my right eye where they had already struck me. Then they hung me
up again, the same as before, and repeated the same process. I don't
remember how long this lasted ... they repeatedly poured water on me.
"Around lunchtime, a
policeman in civilian clothing came up to me and told me some journalists
had come to see me and that I had to confess to three murders and a
"He said that if I didn't
agree they would repeat everything (the torture) and would break me
by sexually assaulting me in some way. I agreed to comply and gave an
interview to the journalists and they (the police) forced me to testify
that the injuries I had received from them had been sustained in the
course of an escape attempt..."
Zaur Zakriev, a lawyer defending
Beslan Gadaev, informed Memorial (a human rights organisation) that
his client had suffered physical and psychological violence on the premises
of the Grozny police force.
In the medical ward of prison
number one in Grozny where Gadaev is laid up, charged with "banditry",
a document details his many wounds. His lawyer, Zakriev, has forwarded
these complaints to the prosecutor of the Chechen Republic.
The text breaks off here
with the article unfinished. Politkovskaya's newspaper, 'Novaya Gazeta',
has promised to investigate the issues raised in the piece
Translation by Andrew Osborn
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