Letter received by Vayfond.
Anonymity preserved, some names and titles removed or renamed for the safety of the author. Chechen sentences translated into Russian.
“When I saw how Khasan Khalitov could not take a breath of air from pain, it was as if I could feel this lump in my throat. I think it’s time to tell my story and I hope that other girls who were with me will also find the courage to tell and confirm what happened to us. Even though 7 years have passed, the pain and wounds are very fresh. What I am about to tell you, I see this every time when I close my eyes as if it was yesterday.
In 2014, my cousin was kidnapped by the Gudermes Kadyrovites. I still don’t know if he (cousin – ed. Vayfond) was actually a member of the underground or they, as always, just used him for “result”. In his phone, the Kadyrovites found our family group in Odnoklassniki. There were only us and no one else had access to the discussion of this group. We never had any conversations about politics except for very harmless and rare jokes about Kadyrov. We mostly joked and sent different pranks and music.
I got married a month before my cousin was kidnapped. Attempts to find him were unsuccessful. At that time, several well-known human rights activists were actively searching and submitting various reports on the fact of the kidnapping. They accepted only a report on the fact of the disappearance but the fact of the abduction was ignored and they refused to initiate proceedings.
Three months later, after my cousin went missing, either OMON or some other structure broke into my husband’s house in Grozny, there were different abbreviations, everyone was wearing masks with the exception of Usman Rashidov. I remembered his first and last name and I finally got the courage to find out his position on the Internet only years later. Having a post-traumatic syndrome, it was hard for me to even think about this name, I wanted to forget all about what happened. He turned out to be the head of the Criminal Investigation Department in Gudermes.
I was not at home at that time, I went to visit a sick maternal aunt. Suddenly, my mother-in-law calls me and says in a kind, but trembling voice: “Khava (name changed – ed. Vayfond), could you urgently return home?”, I asked: “Mom, did something happen?”, and it was as if she was trying to warn me so that I would not come: “No, nothing, just come, there are some urgent matters.” I knew for sure that something had happened, since my mother-in-law would never rush me to return home from a sick aunt without explaining important reasons. I stayed with my aunt. Toward midnight there was a knock on our door. My relative opened the door and the man in civilian clothes calmly asked me to get dressed and go out. A relative said that I was not at home, to which he said that if she did not call me, he would take both her and me. In the end, I got out and they put me in the car in the back seat in the middle between two other men. I asked the person who picked me up, he was sitting in the front seat: “brother, what happened, why are you taking me away?”. To which he answered rudely each time, so that I closed my mouth and looked down, the last time he hit me with his fist on the solar plexus after which I almost suffocated.
I was taken to Gudermes to some police department. The department had dark premises consisting of several rooms in a row without doors, the floor was concrete, as if unfinished or under repair. In one of the rooms there were 2 men and in the other 2 women, as it turned out, they were married couples. The men were chained with one hand to the pipes and their feet to each other, the women just sat on the floor. I was also told to sit on the floor and not talk to anyone. When the men were tortured, we heard it, the women started screaming and crying a lot after which someone in a mask came and beat all of us on the stomach and thighs and also pulled the hair of the one who screamed very hard.
About an hour later, the very Usman Rashidov came. Tall and bald with a terribly unpleasant appearance. Constantly spitting something and was clearly under some kind of influence. He also gave off a very strong odor of which I still sometimes have flashbacks today.
Rashidov began to swear very strongly. He said: “I’m a horrible bandit, I can do whatever I want to you, yes, I’m a very scary person, you won’t get out of here alive.” Looking at me, he said: “It’s a separate conversation with you, whore.”
It’s hard for me to continue writing, but I have to do it …
Usman Rashidov began to unfasten his belt while talking to us with a very strong obscenity: “Do you know what I want to do before I kill you? I get pleasure when the Wahhabist shaitans watch me stick my penis in all the intimate places of their wives”. I sincerely apologize for these details, I voiced them 10 times more decently than it actually was. I hoped till the last minute that he was just intimidating us, but he still took out his genitals. He ordered the women to go to the room where their husbands were and left with them. They started screaming loudly again, one of them lost consciousness and I heard them being beaten. Then there was a continuous cursing, he yelled and accused these young men of complicity with the militants demanding various information from them. It was heard how the men begged to let the women go and not to touch them and that they were ready to do absolutely everything that they were ordered to and to sign everything that they were told, if only the women were released. But, apparently, Usman Rashidov still did something with these women, there were a lot of screams from both this bastard and these unfortunate women.
Then they were returned to the “women’s” room, and Usman Rashidov said: “You, a prostitute, you’ve got it coming today” – something like this, but using obscenities and threats of violence.
He showed me some harmless correspondence in Odnoklassniki and said that I talked a lot with my cousin whom they kidnapped earlier, and therefore I supposedly knew about his plans and his activities.
I said that I did not know anything and that my cousin was nowhere close to what he was accused of. I asked for the sake of Allah not to touch me. He pulled off my hijab and hit me hard in the face. He said: “Allah is not here, only me and my genitals are here for you today.” Then I realized who I was dealing with. He kept demanding various information from me, names absolutely unknown to me and I had no answers. He pulled out his penis again and began to touch me in the face with it. And he threatened that he would now put it in various places. He also spat constantly on my face. It seemed to me that I lost consciousness but I did not lose it. He picked me up by the hair and repeated it again sometimes hitting me in the stomach and head.
All this went on for about an hour. Usman Rashidov ordered us all to strip naked after which he took a photo of himself “as a keepsake” so he said. Soon some nasty Kadyrovite arrived. I can’t confirm but the one who called Usman Rashidov seemed to say that someone had come to him from the Lord. Rashidov said: “Oooh, let him come in here, bring him in.” This nasty man came, he had a flat, broad face. He began to taunt us all by saying various insults. Usman Rashidov asked: “Which one will you pick?”, to which the Kadyrovite answered with a laugh: “I don’t like these whores, let me know when there are virgins.”
Then they both left.
On the cold concrete, we sat naked for perhaps five hours. Probably it was less but it seemed that a lot of time had passed, every minute was an eternity.
Then someone in a black mask but in civilian clothes, could be some employee of this department, came and said that we could get dressed.
He took me out and then put me in the car. This time there were only 2 people, one driver and the other person wearing a mask. He said: “If you dare to even squeal somewhere about what happened there, we will rape you in front of your husband, we are watching you and only one wrong step of yours will finish you.” They brought me back to my aunt, it was light outside, I don’t remember what time it was on the clock, I immediately fell asleep.
There, I decided that I would not return to my husband’s house so as not to be his disgrace and not to put him in danger in the future. But my husband’s relatives, probably understanding what could happen to me, came for me nevertheless. My mother-in-law fell at my feet and began to cry profusely, mistakenly thinking that she was to blame for what had happened.
I never could tell what happened to me. My husband and relatives never asked me about it. A month later, the news reached us that my cousin had been killed but the body has not been returned to this day. He is considered missing.
One very kind woman helped me and my husband leave Chechnya, first to St. Petersburg and then to Europe. We were never able to get asylum in this country where we fled.
My husband recently passed away from an illness and I envy him that his pain is gone and mine is with me.
For almost 8 years now my life has been an earthly hell, although until that day I was joyful and cheerful.
I want to say that Khasan is a very brave person. And with all my heart I understand his pain and I understand the pain of his sister even more. When you posted about the photos, it was as if I have experienced it all over again.
Forgive me for some details, perhaps they will be very important for human rights activists.
Your sister Khava”
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