People whose relatives were abducted and went missing in Chechnya, who are not being searched by the formal structures, they, while hiding behind the argument: “what if he left for Syria to fight”, or even openly accusing of terrorism, usually keep silent.
We know why – fear binds the mouth.
Chechens discuss this among themselves, with their families, in closed chats or at home, behind the locked doors. Journalists sometimes receive letters and requests to help with finding the missing person, but then everything is canceled – the aggrieved party is afraid of the highest Kadyrov’s anger.
Everyone knows that the person was not “lost” anywhere, and the brutal authorities have dragged him into their dungeons.
Vakha (name is changed) is a simple Chechen peasant. Born in exile in Kazakhstan, he returned with his parents, survived modern wars. Self-built rural house, vegetable garden.
The younger son disappeared last winter.
He hitched a ride to the neighboring region for business and disappeared. He was seen by friends at the halfway. Then the phone stopped responding. Since then, no news of him.
For the security reasons (he is afraid for other children), the interlocutor asks to change the name of the person abducted in this story. Let it be Aslanbek.
The search for his son, whoever Vakha turned to, no matter what authority he went to, lead to nothing. The narrator is sure that he is in one of the unofficial prisons of Kadyrov’s people, he shares the fate of hundreds of Chechen guys who go missing, are tortured, accused of terrorist crimes for the sake of the “result” and the career growth of the representatives of security forces.
A big part of Vakha’s life took place under the Soviet Union. In between the memories of his son, he talks about the past.
– My father fought with the Germans, was a war invalid. Survived the exile, but did not understand why we were sent into exile? Then the Russian-Chechen wars. He hated it when the feds went from home to home, he chased them away. They were looting. My father shouted to them: I fought for you to live normally, and now I’m a gangster, or what? He died after the second war. Could not take it anymore.
At first we met the military as people. Traditionally offered them treats, no matter who came. And they scoured the rooms. Found lingerie, took it away, children’s clothes, too. They said they came to free us from the bandits. But they themselves were engaged in robbery. All taken in a row, the furniture, household items. We stood on the outskirts of the village, and our furniture was taken away on KamAZ vehicles. We were taken to the fields, and behind were tanks, bombing our village.
Now there is no one to complain. And under the Soviet Union – they wrote to Moscow, that’s all! Local people were afraid that someone would write there. Now we just pray. We all ask that God would punish them (Kadyrov’s people) . That’s it. Even seven-year-old children pray for this.
Tamara is another orphaned Chechen mother. The only son was kidnapped (she is sure that he was kidnapped) last spring. He was last seen in the district centre, in a store where he bought a gift for his nephew. Handsome guy, brown hair, wide smile. A woman is leafing through a photo on the phone. Shows how her boy was before the abduction. In one year she mastered all the trendy social networks. Reads, monitors. What if, even a grain of information about her Isa will slip, what if the guys who were detained in the same prison with him and got released will suddenly get in touch; what if, anonymously, someone will tell the news about the guy or will send a ransom request. It is a little strange to hear that the village pensioner is aware of all the fresh instagram publications, but what the mother will not do for her son.
A small village in the mountain area. The police are their own inhabitants. She says they stopped responding to requests when she asked to look for her son, when she filed requests one after the other. The interviewee is sure: the day will come, and we will hold them to account. – I addressed everyone, sent his photo to friends, acquaintances, unfamiliar and unfamiliar people, asked to recall if someone had seen anything by chance, or knew something on where to look for the son. We checked thoroughly: he didn’t fly anywhere, not a single airline sold him a ticket, and he didn’t leave by train either. He had no money with him. He also did not intend to go somewhere to earn money.
When he disappeared, we, of course, called him on the phone. At first, no one came up. Then an alien voice answered. He said that it was his number, refused to answer where he took the device from. But my heart told me that this man is aware. He quickly disconnected and did not pick up the phone again.
No one is looking for Tamara’s son, requests about the disappearance remain unanswered and the woman is afraid to complain to the higher authorities than the one’s on the republican level. It is scary, and also the elder brother has prohibited that.
Searching instead of seeking
A part of the people who turned to us is so afraid of being recognized that we change not only the name, but also the circumstances of the abductions of their loved ones. Nevertheless, we give them the word to bring this pain to a wide audience.
Our next character lives very close to Grozny. His son was taken away in an unknown direction a couple of months ago by the people in masks, when he was returning home from the city. It was accidentally seen by a neighbour. And the family immediately rushed to the police department with a request.
They waited all night, did not sleep, but instead of their son, at dawn they received a visit from the security forces.
“Military vehicles drove into the yard. Weapons, helmets, masks. According to the conversation one can hear that among them there are “Chechens” and Russians. Kadyrov’s people are hiding behind their masks on raids like this. But if we find out who the offender is, then even a hundred years later, we will find him and take revenge.
They broke into the house and took away the rest of the children, and at the same time the sons of the neighbour and the pregnant wife of my middle son.
The nightmare that we experienced in those days. Most of all I fought for my daughter in law. She was interrogated, they were seeking a testimony that she used to be the wife of some Wahhabi. But this is complete nonsense, it is her first time she is being married. The military itself then admitted that they were mistaken about her.
The next day, all those who were found by their number in the phones of the detainees were summoned to the regional police department. Nephews, cousins, classmates, friends. Allegedly, they may be associated with the underground. All during interrogations were tortured with the electric current. As I understand it, this is a very widespread practice in Chechnya.
I could not find peace, knowing that just my application for the abduction of my son led to the arrest of all these people.
I lost my nerve, I asked to tell me if he was guilty of something, but they only told me that he “could” be connected with the militants. Finally, all were released, but the abducted was never found.
A week later, the security forces burst into our home again, this time with a search. They woke everyone up, frightened our children.
Among those who arrived was the police chief Dashayev. I remember asking him why are you looking for something here instead of looking for a person? Meanwhile I was afraid that they would plant something in our home, for example, drugs.
I know that many are planning blood revenge on him for his outrage. For brother, for father, for nephew”.
“Even if you are related to Kadyrov’s people, this does not mean that your son will not be kidnapped or quickly found,” the interlocutor said. One of the high-ranking Kadyrov’s man is his second cousin’s nephew. The official was one of the first to whom they turned for help.
Relatives were preparing to collect money for a ransom or for a lawyer, collected certificates and proofs that the missing person had not gone anywhere and had not left the republic for the last two years, that he was not connected with anyone, that he was a simple worker and family man.
Nothing was needed. Officially there are no accusations. No case, no charges, no investigation, no person.
The cases described are different but similar to each other. The unpunished octopus drags people into its dungeon. Often – beyond retrieve. But the bits of information reach the close ones and because of them we know for sure that the person did not “go away anywhere by himself” and was not stolen by the aliens.
So, in one case, a police officer let it slip. While instructing the parents of the kidnapped person, he said: “we observed him for half a year”. But if they put surveillance, why didn’t they summon him officially, why didn’t they charge him with anything, why didn’t they appeal to the elders of the clan, in the end, it is what the Chechen custom dictates?
In another case, purely by a miracle, a man was won back by the relatives.
Also went in the spring on business, also completely disappeared. But what a stroke of luck – the kidnappers did not know that he was by car. And relatives, walking around every yard, every street, noticed a familiar car not far from the regional police department. After that, the relatives did back off the police, insisted and managed to pull out the guy for the ransom. He said that he was subjected to electric shock and to degrading treatment. He said that in a closed prison there are still prisoners who are in prison for three years and their parents do not know anything.
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