Posts Tagged ‘North Caucasus’

Now arson attack on Memorial’s office in Ingushetia

January 17, 2018

Memorial /

Unknown arsonists wearing masks torched the office of Russia’s prominent human rights group Memorial in the North Caucasus republic of Ingushetia on 17 January in the morning. Security camera footage captured two masked men climbing into the organization’s office in the town of Nazran and setting three rooms on fire. The attack comes a week after the arrest of Oyub Tityev, the head of Memorial’s branch in Chechnya, on (fabricated) drug charges. []

Amnesty International and Front Line ( – amongst others – condemned the attach, while TASS reports that the Kremlin calls not to draw conclusions on oppression of human rights defenders in Chechnya. “I don’t think that it is right to draw such conclusions after the head of the Memorial Center’s Chechen branch was caught with drugs,” he said. “An investigation is underway, and only investigators are eligible to say if accusations are credible. We don’t believe it possible to draw any general conclusions in this case,” the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peksov added. While commenting on the fire at the Memorial Center’s office in Ingushetia, Peskov said that “that is two different republics, two different regions of Russia.


March 13, 2014

Another interesting side event taking place in the margin of the UN Human Rights Council is the one organized by the Human Rights House Foundation on Monday 17 March 2014 from 10h00-11h30 in room XXI in the Palais des Nations.


women human rights defenders will share their experience and present the new Human Rights House Network info graphics on the protection of human rights defenders:

  • Lara Aharonian, Women’s Resource Center Armenia Human Rights House Yerevan,
  • Anna Dobrovolskaya, Youth Human Rights Movement, Human Rights House Voronezh, Russia
  • Shahla Ismayil, Women’s Association for Rational Development, Human Rights House Azerbaijan, Baku
  • Sanja Sarnavka, Be active. Be emancipated (BaBe), Human Rights House Zagreb, Croatia
  • Maria Dahle, Human Rights House Foundation. Oslo, Norway

Human Rights House Network (HRHN) was established 20 years ago and now unites 90 human rights NGOs in 18 independent Human Rights Houses in 13 countries. HRHN aims to protect, empower and support HRDs locally.

The info graphics themselves, which try to cover all the key topics in the creation of an enabling environment for human rights defenders as laid down in the latest report of the Special Rapporteur, will be publicly available as from 17 March on or contact <anna.innocenti[at]>

Natalia bracelet starts being used by human rights defenders in Belgrade

September 27, 2013

Kristi Pinderi, LGBT activist from Albania, is one of the human rights defenders included in the Natalia Project.

(Kristi Pinderi, LGBT activist from Albania, with Natalia Bracelet)

Stockholm-based Civil Rights Defenders announced today, 27 September 2013, that Kristi Pinderi, LGBT activist from Albania, will be one of the first human rights defenders to be included in the Natalia Project security system. His bracelet is activated just in time Read the rest of this entry »

Russian HRD Magamed Abubakarov to receive Lawyers for Lawyers Award 2013

May 21, 2013


(Magamed Abubakarov)

Magamed Abubakarov, a Russian human rights lawyer specialized in terrorist cases in the North-Caucasus, will receive the Lawyers for Lawyers Award 2013. Magamed Abubakarov will accept the award on 31 May at the end of a seminar called ‘Lawyers controlled, independence at stake?’ in Amsterdam. Read the rest of this entry »

Portrait of Stanislav Dmitrievsky prominent Russian human rights defender

January 22, 2013

In the framework of its Sponsorship project ‘Defend the defenders‘, OMCT released in January 2013 a portrait of Stanislav Dmitrievsky, prominent Russian human rights defender and Chairman of the Russian Chechen Friendship Society. Mr. Dmitrievsky, who is sponsored by the Swiss Clown Dimitri, is once again facing judicial harassment. As the court summons him for co-authoring the book “International Tribunal for Chechnya”, it is feared that Stanislav Dmitrievsky will have to face criminal charges if the publication is recognized as “extremist material”. Stanislav Dmitrievsky is sponsored by Swiss clown Dimitri in the framework of the OMCT Project Defend the defenders.

Stanislav is a Russian human rights activist, a writer and an editor. He has devoted his life to actively fight against injustice in Russia and North Caucasus. Former Editor-in-chief of the newspaper Pravozaschita (“Human Rights Defense”), he has then been involved in human rights non-profit organisations. He is also involved in the civil society movement against the reportedly unlawful de-listing and demolition of buildings of cultural significance in Russia. He his currently the chairman of the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society (RCFS), a Finland-based NGO.  The mandate of the RCFS is to monitor the human rights respect in North Caucasus and especially Chechnya. Regrettably, Mr. Dmitrievsky had to move the originally Russia-based RCFS headquarters to Finland when the Court of Justice of Nizhnii Novgorod shut down the NGO in 2006.

Mr. Dmitrievsky is also a consultant for the Nizhny Novgorod Foundation to Support Tolerance, directed by Ms. Oksana Chelysheva. This Foundation has taken over the work of the RCFS after its closure in Russia, and is now one of the three organisations composing the reconstituted RCFS in Finland. Their collaboration led to the publication of “International Tribunal for Chechnya”, the book currently subjected to investigation about its alleged “terrorist” content.

Human rights defender of the month: Sapiyat Magomedova from Dagestan

November 6, 2012

The North Caucasian republic of Dagestan is one of the most dangerous places for lawyers today in Russia. In this region Sapiyat Magomedova defends victims of grave human rights violations like enforced disappearances, extra judicial killings and torture. She has taken on cases that many lawyers would reject due to security reasons, and although it is considered almost impossible, she has won several of them. She was chosen by Stockholm-based Civil Rights Defenders as its HRD of the month. Last week I reported that she had received an important award from Sweden.

When asked about everyday life in Dagestan, local human rights lawyer Sapiyat Magomedova answers straight: ”I would not call it life.” The conflict in Dagestan is bridging on civil war. During the last two years Dagestan is considered to be the most violent region in the North Caucasus, followed by Chechnya. Local human rights defenders constantly face harassment, assaults and threats to their life.

Portrait Sapiyat Magomedova Photo: Private

In 2010 Sapiyat Magomedova was severely beaten by police officers when visiting one of her clients. When pressing charges, she was herself charged with using violence against state officials and insulting police officers on duty. Sapiyat Magomedova had already in 2009 been subjected to an unfounded criminal case for allegedly offending an Investigator from the Prosecutor’s Office. She believes that the case was a form of retaliation for her standing up to law enforcement agencies and fighting impunity. “The criminal case against me was opened to put pressure on me, to force me to retract my statement against the police officers”, Sapiyat Magomedova later said in an interview.

Sapiyat Magomedova represents victims in very sensitive cases, such as allegations that the police have tortured individuals suspected of involvement with the insurgency, and cases of sexual- and gender based violence. Normally, cases of sexual- and gender based violence go unreported in Dagestan. Sexual violence is a taboo subject in a region where honour killings, bride kidnapping, and child marriage occur. There is an absence of debate on the political level on these issues. Women’s rights are not high on the political agenda and gender based violence and other kind of abuses against women occur on a regular basis.

In 2011, Sapiyat Magomedova defended a 13-year-old girl who had been kidnapped and raped for three days by five young men. Two of the suspected rapists were sons of police officers. After strong pressure on the girl and her family, she succumbed and changed her statement. The case, however, got rather great resonance in society and might lead to inspiring other victims to dare press charges. Sapiyat Magomedova further highlighted the case on one of the first conferences on women’s rights in the region. At the conference she spoke about the problem with impunity in cases of sexual- and gender based violence.

Being a woman, Sapiyat Magomedova must also exert much effort just to be taken seriously in her legal profession. Caucasian women are commonly housewives and that “leaves its mark”, as Sapiyat Magomedova puts it. Woman lawyers have a lot of misconceptions to fight against.

Human rights defenders constantly face harassment and threats to their life in Dagestan. Since 2010, Dagestan is considered to be the most violent region in the North Caucasus, followed by Chechnya. The conflict nearly approach the level of civil war. Russian law enforcement bodies are reluctant to investigate cases of human rights abuses. Even though Russia has been convicted approximately 210 times for violations linked to North Caucasus, by the European Court of Human Rights, not even one perpetrator has been put to justice.

In many cases, violations are committed by those who are supposed to uphold the rule of law, under the pretext of fighting terrorism. In order to keep up statistics in terror crimes, it frequently occurs that law enforcement bodies fabricate evidence against innocent people and extract a confession by using torture. This in turn nurtures the insurgency that has been on the rise in the past years. A decade of failure to stabilize the region and deal with the rampant impunity has created an environment where ordinary people live in fear and have almost nowhere to turn to seek justice.

The Russian government invests enormous sums of money each year to dampen the conflicts throughout the North Caucasus. The number of dead terrorists is used as evidence that the Russian government’s initiative leads to results. Military and security forces, and the Police are being rewarded for each person that can be added to the toll of terrorists. This has led to civilians being accused of joining the separatists. Kidnappings, torture and extrajudicial executions are common.

Read more in Civil Rights Defenders country report: Human rights in Russia