In the evening of 20 January, armed Chechen police in plainclothes forcefully abducted Zarema Musaeva from her home in Nizhny Novgorod and reportedly left for Grozny, the capital of the Chechen Republic. Zarema is currently suffering from diabetes and the abductors did not take her medications or warm clothes with them. Her relatives, unbeknownst of Zarema’s location or health condition, now fear for her life.
Apparently, Zarema Musaeva’s only crime is being the mother of Abubakar Yangulbaev – a lawyer from the Committee for the Prevention of Torture, who has repeatedly criticized the Chechen leadership. Among other things, for their extrajudicial abductions.
Taking family members as hostages to silence the opposition is, unfortunately, not a singular event in Russia, but part of a broader tendency. Recently, NHC together with several other leading NGOs, wrote a letter to Vladimir Putin, urging him to restore order in the Chechen Republic and release political prisoners. So far, some abducted family members have been released, but last night’s kidnapping shows that the campaign to silence voices critical to Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, continues with impunity.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee condemns the abduction of Zarema Musaeva and renews its demands that the Russian authorities abide by international laws and conventions.