OPEN LETTER OF VAYFOND ASSOCIATION ABOUT AHMED ALTAMIROV
Ladies and gentlemen,
The charity and human rights association VAYFOND (Sweden: Org nr: 802508-1848) was established in 2017 by natives of the Chechen Republic living in the EU countries. The main goal of our organization is to protect human rights and help compatriots who are in a difficult situation. The organization is established, registered and operates in accordance with the laws of the Kingdom of Sweden. For more information about our organization, please visit vayfond.com/en/about-us/.
A few months ago, we were asked to help Akhmed Altamirov, because of his detention by the Bosnian authorities at Sarajevo airport on the basis of the Interpol warrant issued by the authorities of the Russian Federation. Earlier on November 18, 2017, Mr. Altamirov personally addressed to our organization with a proposal on cooperation in the field of IT projects, in particular, the support of the site of our organization. The offer was received from the Turkish telephone number +905396325381 via WhatsApp program. As was later reported to the lawyer of our organization, Alexei Obolenets, Mr. Altamirov is accused by the Russian authorities of involvement in illegal armed formations in the territory of Syria.
After an examination by the lawyer, namely a personal meeting with Mr. Altamirov in a prison in Sarajevo and a meeting with Mr. Altamarov’s employer in Istanbul, as well as a questioning of Mr. Altamirov’s relatives, we can responsibly declare that the criminal case against Mr. Altamirov was fabricated by the authorities of the Russian Federation, since Mr. Altamirov has never crossed the border of Syria and never been in the territory of this state. The examination of the case materials and the examination of witnesses showed that there is no objective evidence of Mr. Altamirov’s involvement in the war in Syria. Moreover, in this case, details in the passport and testimonies of witnesses confirm the innocence of Mr. Altamirov.
In the past few years, the practice of fabricating criminal cases by the Russian authorities against natives of the North Caucasus, who for some reason left their country of origin, has become a regular and systemic phenomenon. Among other things, Russia’s investigative bodies began to file accusations in similar cases allegedly in participation in illegal armed formations on the territory of Syria. The practice of these criminal cases is the following: in the absence of any objective evidence (marks in the passport, mobile billing data, video, and photos), the evidences of certain “witnesses” that appear questionable are used as objective ones, but these witnesses never left the territory of Russia themselves. Also, taking into consideration the situation in the Chechen Republic, it is very likely that such testimonies were given as a result of the use of torture or under the threat of using it.
To date, we can say precisely about two cases, natives of Chechnya were charged of participation in armed groups in Syria by the RF authorities. The first case is the case of Tumso Abdurakhmanov. After a conflict with a Chechen official, Tumso fled to Georgia with his relatives. After a while Tumso found out that he was wanted by Interpol, since Russia accused him of taking part in hostilities on the side of the terrorist organization ISIS in Syria. Tumso hired a lawyer immediately and filed a complaint to Interpol, showing evidence that the accusations against him were fabricated. Interpol accepted Tumso’s complaint and all his data were removed from this system.
The second case is the case of Aminat Akueva, which was also conducted by Obolenets, but already as a lawyer from Association Vayfond. The Russian Federation accused her of participating in militia formations in Syria and placed this knowingly false information in the INTERPOL data system. After a thorough legal investigation, we received evidence that Ms. Akueva was not in Syria and did not take part in terrorist and military activities. The evidence was submitted to the German authorities, which denied the authorities of the Russian Federation her extradition. June 08, 2018 The INTERPOL General Secretariat removed Ms. Akueva’s data from its database.
According to information coming to our organization, the investigative bodies of the Russian Federation continue to increase the number of deliberately fabricated accusations against the natives of the North Caucasus allegedly in connection with their participation in armed formations in Syria. And the case against Ahmed Altamirov is no exception. At the same time, we declare that in case of extradition to the Russian Federation, Mr. Altamirov will be tortured and inhumanly treated in accordance with the practice in the Chechen Republic that has been repeatedly noted by human rights organizations, as reflected in numerous resolutions of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
In connection with all of the above, with your assistance, we address to the relevant authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina with a request to provide Mr. Altamirov with asylum in accordance with the Geneva Convention of 1951, as at present he cannot count on the protection of his country of origin, but if he returns to Russia, he may be subjected to torture and inhuman treatment, which poses a direct threat to his life and freedom.
We are aware that on August 23, the Asylum Department of the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina decided to deny Mr. Altamirov’s asylum request. At present, Ahmed Altamirov is preparing an appeal to the court in connection with the earlier decision. We appeal to all people of goodwill with the request to save the life of an absolutely innocent person.
We draw your attention to the fact that Ahmed Altamirov is a professional programmer, a person whose knowledge and skills are highly valued in the labor market, the demand for the services is growing day by day. The talents and results of the work of such people as Ahmed Altamirov today determine the scenario of the development of humanity, promote the establishment of contacts between people of different countries, beliefs, and religions. Ahmed was the developer of social networks for Turkish users for five years. We are confident that his knowledge can be useful in Bosnia and Herzegovina and other countries. All of us today can decide whether Ahmed Altamirov will become a new Steven Jobs or Ilon Mask, or he will be killed in one of the pretrial detention centers of the Achkhoy-Martanovskiy district of Chechnya. We really hope for your help and support.
If necessary, our organization is ready to provide explanations and additional information.
Yours faithfully, Chairman of VAYFOND Association
The letter was sent to:
Civil Rights Defenders
UNHCR in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Amnesty International London
Human Rights Watch Sweden
Human Rights Watch New York
Council of the European Union
Human Rights Foundation
European Parliament Strasbourg
European Parliamen WASHINGTON, DC
Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina in London
Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Stockholm
EMBASSY OF BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA IN PARIS
EMBASSY OF BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA IN BERN
U.S. EMBASSY IN BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Washington
EMBASSY OF BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA IN BERLIN
Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Kingdom of Norway
EMBASSY OF BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA IN BRUSSELS
Association for Social Research and Communications (UDIK)
Association Movement of Mothers of Srebrenica and Žepa Enclaves
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Institution of Human Rights Ombudsman of BiH