Lawyer of the Committee Against Torture detained in Nizhny Novgorod on returning from Chechnya

Source: (info), 23/01/12

· Human rights defenders  · Ministry of Internal Affairs  · Nizhny Novgorod region

On the night of 20 January Nizhny Novgorod transport police Novgorod detained Anton Ryzhov, a member of the board of the Committee Against Torture and an expert on international law, as he arrived in the city by train.

Anton Ryzhov, a participant in the Joint Mobile Group investigating the torture and murder of people in Chechnya, was returning from his latest trip to the region.

When the police detained Anton Ryzhov they told him he did not resemble the photograph in his passport, Igor Kalyapin, chair of the Committee Against Torture, told Agora Human Rights Association.

According to Anton Ryzhov, the transport police officers forbade him to phone a colleague since, they claimed, he only had a legal right to a phone call three hours after being detained. Subsequently the officers told Anton Ryzhov they had a registered statement that a certain act of terrorism was being prepared, and he was suspected of possessing materials connected with terrorism. As a result the police seized the human rights defender’s laptop and several memory sticks. He was released at about 4am on the morning of 21 January.

Igor Kaliapin said his lawyers would lodge a complaint against the actions of the transport police which prima facie would seem to be unlawful. A statement will soon be sent to the Investigative Committee and, in order to secure official oversight of the complaint, to the police department and the prosecutor’s office.

“A week has not gone by since the Chechen special OMON policed accused me of allegedly revealing state secrets,” Igor Kaliapin said. “Clearly a campaign has begun against the Joint Mobile Group and Committee Against Torture, and we have obviously got in someone’s way in our work in Chechnya. It’s true we get in the way of individual police bosses in Chechnya who fabricate terrorism charges, covering up instances of abduction and the murder of peaceful citizens. If a provocation of this kind happened in Grozny, I would not be surprised. Chechen law enforcement officers are wise enough not to touch us on the territory of their own republic. But the fact that the detention took place in the middle of Russia is disappointing. It turns out that the bandits in Chechnya who are engaged in the abduction of people have found supporters in Nizhny Novgorod.”