Belarus sends Murad Amriev back to Russia
On 8 June 2017 Belarusian authorities sent Murad Amriev [Amriyev], wanted in Chechnya with regard to a false documents allegation, to Russia despite concerns he could be tortured or killed.
As RFE/RL reported, Amriev’s family pleaded desperately for him not to be returned, while human rights activists stated that he could be tortured or killed by Chechen law-enforcement authorities. Amnesty International issued a statement that said: “The Russian authorities must immediately release Chechen torture survivor Murad Amriev, and under no circumstances place his life at further risk by handing him over to the Chechen authorities.” Heather McGill, Russia researcher at Amnesty International, said: “The story of Murad Amriev reads like a thriller, but it is real and his life is at stake. He was ‘handed over’ to the Russian authorities early this morning in what amounts to an unlawful rendition after he attempted to seek asylum in Belarus. Under no circumstances should the federal authorities of Russia deliver him into the hands of Chechen law enforcement officers, which could put him at risk of torture or death.”
On 8 June the European Court of Human Rights asked Russia about measures it planned to take to prevent violence against Murad Amriev. On 8 June the Committee for the Prevention of Torture, a human rights group based in Nizhny Novgorod that has done a great deal of work in Chechnya, told Caucasian Knot that it had received a second letter from the European Court of Human Rights in which the Court “further requests Russia to answer questions about whether the Russian authorities made a formal request for the extradition of Murad Amriev from Belarus, and if so, on what grounds, and whether the athlete will be detained in Russia, and if so, where he will be kept and on what grounds.” In addition, “taking into account the Murad Amriev’s complaints about torture and kidnapping, the ECtHR has also requested Russia answer what measures the authorities plan to take in order to prevent a repetition of the risk of torture and kidnapping. The Russian government is to respond to the ECtHR by 5 July.” On 9 June, Caucasian Knot reported that family members of Murad Amriev had left Chechnya for security reasons.
However, the Belarus authorities did release Amriev to the Russian authorities. On 9 June the Chechnya branch of the Russian Interior Ministry said Murad Amriev was “being escorted to the region by security forces for questioning in connection with a false-documents allegation,” RFE/RL reported. Amnesty International subsequently stated that Murad Amriev had been “handed over to Russian law enforcement officers at 3am on 9 June after having been returned from Belarus where he unsuccessfully attempted to claim asylum. He has been released on bail on condition that he does not leave Chechnya.”
Amnesty International describe the background to the case of Murad Amriev as follows:
“Murad Amriev, a World Mixed Martial Arts Champion, fled Chechnya for Ukraine in 2013 after being tortured and lodged a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights with the assistance of the Russian NGO Committee for the Prevention of Torture.
On 4 June he was travelling to Russia to apply for a Shengen visa when he was taken off a train by transport police in Bryansk Region, south west of Moscow. He was detained for 48 hours before being released on 6 June. A group of Chechen police officers had arrived to escort him, but according to a lawyer for the Committee for the Prevention of Torture, Murad Amriev was not handed over to them because of missing documentation. Murad Amriev told his lawyer that he recognized one of the police officers who had tortured him among the officers who intended to escort him to Chechnya.
On the 6 June after being released, Murad Amriev went to the Prosecutor’s Office in Bryansk to complete some formalities and the Chechen officers followed him and waited outside the building insisting on escorting him. Murad Amriev’s friends arrived in a car and he was able to evade the Chechen police officers and drive off. On 7 June he was detained while crossing the Russian Belarusian border and held in Dobrush police station in Belarus until the morning of 9 June when he was handed back to Russian law enforcement officers. Amnesty International will be monitoring the situation and will take action in future if required.”