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The sidestepping spokesman Dmitry Peskov’s comment on ‘blood feuds’ shows that he needs to take another look at Russia’s Criminal Code
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has been sidestepping questions about the Chechen authorities’ threats against the Yangulbayev family all week. On Friday, February 4, journalists — referring to a “blood feud” threat made by Russian lawmaker Adam Delimkhanov — asked Peskov about the issue of blood feuds in Chechnya.
“This is a traditional issue for the region. But this tradition does not correlate with the legislation of the Russian Federation. There are probably specifics therein,” Peskov replied evasively.
Who are the Yangulbayevs?
Retired judge Saidi Yangulbayev fled Russia along with his daughter on January 23. Days earlier, purported police officers violently detained his wife, Zarema Musayeva, and took her to Chechnya, where she is now in pre-trial custody on criminal charges of assaulting a police officer.
Earlier still, in December 2021, Yangulbayev’s son — prominent anti-torture activist and lawyer Abubakar Yangulbayev — left Russia shortly after reporting that dozens of his relatives had been kidnapped. The Chechen authorities believe that Yangulbayev’s other son, Ibragim Yangulbayev (who also resides abroad), is the administrator of the Chechen opposition Telegram channel 1ADAT. Ibragim Yangulbayev has been placed on federal wanted list for allegedly inciting terrorist activities.
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has made public threats against the Yangulbayev family, as have other prominent Chechen officials. On February 1, Russian lawmaker Adam Delimkhanov threatened to “cut the heads off” Saidi Yangulbayev’s relatives. A day later, Chechen state media reported that 400,000 people had rallied against the family in Grozny.
On February 4, the head of Russia’s Presidential Council for Human Rights Valery Fadeev appealed to Russian Investigative Committee Chief Alexander Bastrykin to transfer the criminal case against Zarema Musayeva to the federal level. Members of the Human Rights Council believe that the criminal case against Musayeva is “closely” related to the conflict between the Chechen authorities and her sons. “In the current situation, the course and results of the investigation against Zarema Musayev could be discredited and assessed by society as biased,” Fadeev said.
What the Kremlin spokesman failed to point out is that blood feuds have been explicitly mentioned in the Russian Criminal Code for more than 15 years. Indeed, under Criminal Code Article 105 (Murder), a blood feud is considered an aggravating factor — and if Russia didn’t have a moratorium on capital punishment, murder by reason of blood feud would be punishable by the death penalty.
In addition, the Russian Supreme Court has defined this crime as follows:
“Within the meaning of the law, murder by reason of blood feud occurs when a perpetrator who shares and regonizes this custom takes the life of a victim, in seeking to observe it.”
In other words, contrary to Peskov’s statement, the “tradition” of blood feuds has long been addressed by Russian legislation. And, again, with regards to murder, it increases the crime’s severity.
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