To: Valery Kuznetsov, Prosecutor of the Republic of Chechnya, RF
Via facsimile + 7 (8712) 22 31 44, + 7 (095) 777 92 26
Copy: Yuri Chaika, Prosecutor General of the RF
Via facsimile +7(495) 292 96 00
Vladimir Lukin, Ombudsman for human rights of the RF
Via facsimile +7(095) 207-76-30
Open Letter by the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF), Federation Internationale des Ligues des Droits de l’Hommes (FIDH) and Center “Demos”
18 August 2006. Vienna-Paris-Moscow
Dear Mr. Prosecutor:
According to our information, on 17 August 2006, a 26-year-old journalist and civic activist, Elina Ersenoyeva, was abducted by unknown representatives of security services in the center of Grozny. Elina is a staff-member of a local non-governmental organization “INFO-MOST” and a correspondent of the “Chechen Society” newspaper. The Youth Information Center for HIV/AIDS Prevention “INFO-MOST” is a joint project of UNICEF and the Department on Youth Affairs of the Government of the Chechen Republic. Elina Ersenoyeva’s numerous publications in the “Chechen Society” have been focused on social problems, refugee issues, etc.
On 17 August, around nine o’clock in the morning, Elina and her aunt, Rovzan, got off a taxi near the House of Fashion at the Prospekt Pobedy, the main street of Grozny. Elina was planning to go to the office. However, several unknown armed men in camouflage and face-masks approached the women from behind and forced them into two separate cars that were waiting near the sidewalk. Elina and Rovzan had their heads covered with bags and were taken in unknown direction. A while later, the cars stopped. The women were taken out and put into a basement. Soon afterwards, with her head still covered and her vision completely blocked, Rovzan was once again forced into a car and then set free in a street in Grozny. As she reported to the “Chechen Society” editor, “In that basement, Elina was still next to me. I called her and she replied. Then, I called again in a little while and she wasn’t there anymore. After what seemed like two hours, they took me from the basement with the bag still over my head and put into a car again. When the car stopped they pushed me out. I took the bag off but the car was already far away. I asked some passers-by where I was and it proved to be Grozny”.
Around noon, Elina suddenly rang Rovzan from her mobile phone, said that she was allowed to make one phone call and asked to keep things quiet and not to tell her mother. She also said that everything would work out because she wasn’t guilty of anything. Then, at seven o’clock in the evening, Elina called her mother directly and told her she’d be released later at night. She immediately passed the phone to some man who confirmed her words. However, she did not return home neither that night nor the next day. Her mobile phone has been switched off since of evening of 17 August.
On 18 August, in the morning, Elina’s mother, Rita, was urgently summoned to their native village of Starye Atagi. Rita did not give us any details on what she had leant there about the fate of her daughter but stressed that the attention of the competent authorities as well as that of the general public Elina’s abduction may help set her free.
To note, two days prior to her abduction, Elina addressed the International Helsinki Federation and Center “Demos” with a plea for help. In her letter, Elina was explaining that she and her family have been persecuted by local enforcement agencies (“Kadyrovtsy”). She also explained that the persecutions had to do with the fact that in November 2005 she had married a man who appeared to be a rebel-fighter:
“Starting March this year, I and my family-members (mother and two brothers) have been persecuted primarily by the so-called Kadyrovtsy. Those people have been threatening us non-stop for months already. My husband was killed over a month ago but the persecutions haven’t ended – in fact, they’ve grown even worse. The enforcement agencies are threatening us with violence and death because my late husband was a rebel. During that whole time-period, which is less than a year, they took my mother away several times and subjected her to severe beatings, threats and extortion. Mamma is an old woman and her health is poor. She has a heart condition and suffered a heart attack… Every time they took her in, they would beat her and take away her money and jewelry. Nowadays, momma’s even afraid to leave the house…”.
Dear Mr Prosecutor!
The International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF, Vienna), Federation Internationale des Ligues des Droits de l’Hommes (FIDH, Paris), and Center “Demos” (Moscow) hereby strongly request you to launch an investigation of Elina Ersenoyeva’s abduction without any delay and to do everything in your powers to ensure her immediate release and to bring to justice the perpetrators in the abduction as well as those members of the Chechen security forces that threatened her and her family.
Aaron Rhodes, Executive Director of the IHF
Siddiki Kaba, President of the FIDH
Tanya Lokshina, Chair of Center “Demos” and member of the Expert Council under the Ombudsman of the Russian Federation
See also: Basayev "Widow" Kidnapped