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The "Tadzhik Case"

Svetlana Gannushkina, 15/11/10

Ten days have passed since 4 November when we issued the last update on what shall be referred to as the “Tadzhik case”. In the meantime the defence has taken the following steps:

— The defence lawyers appealed the ruling by the Ostankino Court Justice of the Peace charging the six detained Tadzhiks with an administrative offence. The judgment, which imposed a penalty of 12 days' administrative detention for the alleged administrative offence, lacked factual basis and did not clarify what specific offences the individual offenders had committed and under what circumstances.

 — The defence lawyers submitted a protest to the Moscow Prosecutor’s Office against actions taken by officials of the Moscow Department of Internal Affairs Special Detention Centre No. 1 for administrative detention where the six Tadzhiks were being held. In particular, the defence counsel objected to the fact that the decision of the Justice of the Peace had not been implemented and that those serving their administrative sentences were handed over to FSB officials 12 hours before the 12 days of detention had passed. As a result, our defence lawyers were not able to be present during the drawing up of the official record of detention and at the handing over of the defendants to the FSB Detention Centre. As readers will recall, the detainees were supposed to be freed at 2:10 a.m. on 2 November. From early morning on 1 November relatives of the six individuals held in administrative detention, and later on their lawyers, kept watch outside Special Detention Centre No. 1. At 4:30 p.m. Svetlana Gannushkina called the Special Detention Centre and was given confirmation that our clients would be released at 2 a.m. in the presence of their lawyers. This information was an outright lie, since the Tadzhiks had been handed over to FSB officials as early as 2 p.m. on 1 November.

 — The lawyers appealed against the decision of Moscow’s Meshchansky District Court to impose pre-trial detention on the defendants.

On 9 November investigating officer Gorbunov summoned defence counsel Gulnara Babadzhanova to be present while her client Abdugafar Ganiev was interrogated as a suspect. Ganiev is a young Tadzhik who came to Russia for work with his father. Following a lengthy discussion and assurances that his father would not help Abdugafar leave Russia the investigating officer decided to change the measure of pre-trial restraint. On the following day, 10 November, Abdugafar Ganiev was released.

On the same day Akbardzhon Otaboev, another of counsel Babadzhanova's clients, was charged under Section 2 of Article 222 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (illegally acquiring, passing on, selling, keeping, transporting or carrying arms, ammunition, explosive substances or explosive devices by a group of individuals).

Otaboev's lawyer discovered two statements by his client in the case file. The first was made by Akbardzhon Otaboev to an FSB official, Senior Lieutenant Ya. V. Starshinov on 20 October, i.e. on the day of the special operation. The statement does not indicate either the time or the place where it was made. According to this statement, written on a computer, Otaboev turned down the services of an interpreter and stated that  he had photographed certain stretches of the railway line on Gafurov's orders. Otaboev further states that Akmal Gafurov and his brother Alisher Otandzhonzade were linked to the [Islamist] party Hizb-ut-Tahrir. Gulnara Babadzhanova is convinced that Otaboev's command of Russian is not sufficient for him to have possibly uttered the words that appear in the printed statement.  

Otaboev's second testimony was taken on 21 October by A. V. Budnikov, an officer of the Alekseevskoe Department of Internal Affairs. In this statement Otaboev relates that he returned from work as the search of his home was being concluded. This statement does not include any reference to Gafurov or his brother Otadzhonzade. It, too, has no indication of the time or place where the statement was made. 

Alisher Otadzhonzade, a client of defence counsel Emil Taubulatov, as well as Akbardzhon Otaboev, were charged under Section 2 Article 222 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Otadzhonzade categorically rejects his complicity in any illegal activities whatsoever or membership in any extremist organisations.

Аccording to the FSB’s senior investigating officer Gorbunov, Abdudzhalil Kakhorov turned down the services of defence counsel Taubulatov. However, Taubolatov has not received any confirmation of this. On the contrary, he received a phone call from a relative of Kakhorov's who asked him not to give up representing Kakhorov.

The situation of Khurshed Davlatov is even more perplexing.  According to investigating officer Gorbunov, no detention order against Davlatov has been issued and he was released from the Special Detention Centre. It has not yet been possible to establish his whereabouts.

On 11 November the Ostankino Court heard the first appeal against the ruling by the Justice of the Peace that imposed the penalty of 12 days' detention. Having carefully listened to defence counsel Roman Onishchenko's argument that the case against Akmal Gafurov did not include any specific facts, Judge E.M. Dorokhina left the courtroom to draw up her ruling. Half an hour later Judge Dorokhina returned to the courtroom and declared, looking slightly uneasy: “I started writing a ruling in your favour but somehow it came out sounding clumsy. I thought about it and decided to turn down your appeal.” Never before have we come across this kind of justification for turning down an appeal.

We have been informed that Khurshed Davlatov and Abdudzhalil Kakhorov testified that the brothers Akmal Gafurov and Alisher Otadzhonzade are members of the Hizb-ut-Tahrir party, and that they had organized meetings and tried to recruit other members.

No further information on the other suspects in the “Tadzhik case” is currently available. 


Some additional information on the case has come to light. The “Tadzhik case” emerged in the course of a series of actions taken by the FSB of the Russian Federation that aimed to identify members of the Hizb-ut-Tahrir al-Islami party and stop their activities. It appears to be linked in some way with a similar case in the Kaluga Region.

Hizb-ut-Tahrir (or Islamic Liberation Party) is one of 15 organisations that the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation declared terrorist organisations on 14 February 2003. The court decision does not contain any evidence of terrorist activities by this party anywhere in the world. Hizb-ut-Tahrir is referred to in one paragraph: 

The Islamic Liberation Party (Hizb ut-Hahrir al-Islami) is an organisation that aims to remove non-Islamic governments and establish Islamic rule on a global scale by re-creating a “Global Islamic Caliphate”, initially in regions with a predominantly Muslim population, including Russia and countries of the CIS. Its main forms of activity are: militant Islamist propaganda combined with intolerance of other religions; active supporter recruitment and systematic attempts to sow discord in society (mainly through very well funded propaganda). It has been banned in a number of countries of the Middle East and CIS (Uzbekistan).  The Hizb-ut-Tahrir ideology is highly unattractive and, if it came to dominate the minds of large population groups, might lead to tragic consequences, just like any other totalitarian ideology.  However, no evidence yet exists to show that Hizb-ut-Tahrir is a terrorist organisation.

Cases such as the “Tadzhik case” can in fact only contribute to the further radicalisation of Islam, thereby transforming some of its tendencies into protest movements, and attracting new adherents to organisations such as Hizb-ut-Tahrir.

It is also worth mentioning that the Supreme Court decision of 14 February 2010 was only published at the request of non-governmental organisations at a time when the campaign of persecution of participants in the organisations listed in the ruling was in full spate. The majority of Russia's population, let alone immigrant workers, is still doubtless unaware of this decision.
Illustration: Georgy Titov, Gallery

Rights in Russia,
18 Nov 2010, 23:51