Some of the 27 people who were reportedly detained and executed in Chechnya in January 2017 have been charged with belonging to the terrorist group ISIS, according to Russian Human Rights Commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova. She didn’t specify how many of the 27 people are under investigation, but she did state that federal officials have declined to open a criminal investigation into the disappearances.
In July 2017, the newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported that 27 people had been executed in mass outside Grozny that January, a month after a series of raids following an attack on police officers. Chechen officials denied the information. The BBC’s Russian-language service says the new terrorism charges are aimed at people detained on suspicion of being LGBT, though Novaya Gazeta previously reported that the victims were rounded up for supposed extremist activities.
The relatives of some of the 27 people told the BBC that the local authorities forced them to sign statements claiming that their loved ones had actually moved to Syria. Moskalkova later claimed that the police had placed these relatives “under their protection” while investigating the disappearances of 18 people on Novaya Gazeta’s list.
In January 2018, human rights activists reported the disappearance of the wife of one of the men on the list. Chechen officials denied the story, sharing a photograph that allegedly showed the woman safely at home with her family.