Ruslan Kutaev. Photo: Radio Marsho (RFE/RL),

08 July 2014, 19:51

Kutaev's case: chronology and details

Ruslan Kutaev (born in 1957, resident of Achkhoi-Martan village, Chechen Republic) is the President of the international public-political movement "Assembly of Caucasian Nations", head of the international committee on North Caucasus problems, member of the Supreme Political Council of the party ‘Alliance of Greens and Social Democrats’. Kutaev has been kept under arrest since February 20, 2014 on charges of illegal drug possession. On June 19, 2014,  the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial" recognized Kutaev to be a political prisoner. On July 7 he was sentenced to four years of imprisonment in general regime colony.

On February 18, 2014, on the eve of the 70th anniversary of deportation of the Chechen-Ingush people that took place on February 23, 1944, the National Library located in the city of Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, hosted, without any prior coordination with the authorities, a scientific-practical conference "Deportation of Chechen people. What was it, and is it possible to forget it?" Ruslan Kutaev was the organizer and the moderator of the conference, which was held contrary to the decree of the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, who cancelled the commemoration and moved the Day of Memory and Grief of the republic's nations to May 10.

On February 19, 2014, Ruslan Kutaev ignored the invitation of Magomed Daudov, the head of the administration of the head of Chechnya and of the Chechen government, and did not appear at the meeting with Ramzan Kadyrov, who read a lesson to all the participants.

On the following day, on February 20, 2014, Ruslan Kutaev was detained by law enforcers in the village of Gekhi, Urus-Martan District of Chechnya. According to the Chechen Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), he was detained on suspicion of illegal possession of three grams of heroin. Rights defenders spoke about application of physical violence to Kutaev with the aim to compel him to make a confession. After a check, these actions were qualified as torture, and, according to the human rights organization "Committee against Torture", after detention, extensive haematomas appeared on Kutaev's body.

Seeing the traces of torture, the rights defenders of the Joint Mobile Group, who visited Kutaev at the SIZO (pre-trial prison), sent a message about the crime to the Investigating Committee of the Russian Federation (ICRF). However, an investigator from the first division for investigating especially important cases of the Chechen Investigating Department of the ICRF conducted his own check and issued a resolution not to open a criminal case.

On April 25, the court began considering Kutaev's case on the merits. Ruslan Kutaev proclaimed his innocence and expressed confidence that by prosecuting him the Chechen authorities were trying to hinder his human rights and political activities.

The international organization "Human Rights Watch" (HRW) has pointed to the association of Kutaev's prosecution with the fact that on February 18 during the above conference "Deportation of Chechen people. What was it, and is it possible to forget it?" he criticized the position of the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, who banned commemoration events on February 23, the starting date of deportation of the Chechen-Ingush people.

On June 19, 2014, the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial" qualified Ruslan Kutaev as a political prisoner. According to the HRC, his case has numerous signs of tampering and seems completely fabricated.

On July 4, the prosecutor asked to sentence Kutaev to five years in prison. The defence asked to acquit Kutaev for the absence of the event of the crime. At the court session, Ruslan Kutaev delivered his last plea, in which he explained his understanding of why innocent people in Chechnya are paying a high price for remaining honest and fair.

On July 7, 2014, Ruslan Kutaev's trial was over. Judge Alexander Dubkov found Kutaev guilty and sentenced him to four years in prison, to be served in a general security colony and to subsequent restriction of his freedom for one year with a ban to attend public events and engage in public activities.

After the announcement of the verdict, the HRC "Memorial" treated the conviction as unjust, not based on the materials of the case and politically motivated.

Source: Materials of the 'Caucasian Knot' correspondent

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