Chechen police urge relatives of two jailed opposition activists to murder them in an ‘honor killing’

Source: Meduza

Chechen police are pressuring the relatives of jailed opposition activists Ismail Isayev and Salekh Magamadov to murder them in an “honor killing,” the human rights organization Russian LGBT Network told Meduza on Tuesday, March 30.

Isayev (age 17) and Magamadov (age 20) are two brothers who ran the opposition Telegram channel Osal Nakh 95. They were jailed in Chechnya earlier this year and are now facing terrorism charges.

According to their friends, Isayev and Magamadov’s family members are being summoned by the police nearly every day for “conversations,” during which they are encouraged to murder the young men in an honor killing.

Due to the threats, lawyers representing Isayev and Magamadov are planning to ask Investigative Committee Head Alexander Bastrykin that the case against them be transferred to another part of the country. They also demand that Chechen investigators ensure the safety of the two brothers, who are currently in custody in a pre-trial detention center in Grozny.

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Magamadov and Isayev were first arrested in Chechnya in April 2020 and accused of making “offensive publications.” (One of them later made a public apology). They left Chechnya for Nizhny Novgorod in July 2020 with the help of the Russian LGBT Network. In February 2021, however, police officers in Nizhny Novgorod detained Magamadov and Isayev and then sent them back to Chechnya, where they were arrested on suspicion of aiding and abetting terrorism. They now face up to 15 years in prison.

On March 24, the Russian LGBT Network told Meduza that Chechen police had arrested approximately 20 people related to Magamadov and Isayev, and interrogated them for several hours in an attempt to find out the whereabouts of the brothers’ parents. Afterwards, the state television channel Grozny distributed a video of the brothers’ family members cursing human rights defenders. Magamadov and Isayev’s mother, Zara Magamadova, believes that their family members were threatened into recording this video. The incident prompted the Russian LGBT Network to file a complaint with state investigators. 

In mid-March Zara Magamadova made a public appeal to Russia’s Human Rights commissioner, Tatyana Moskalkova, seeking help for her sons. Moskalkova later stated that she had taken the case under her personal control.