Target: Yurii Yakovlevich Chaika, Prosecutor General
Goal: Ensure the safety and encourage the release of an activist detained on drug charges
Torture is a serious allegation to levy against any nation, but recent documentation of a prisoner’s condition in Grozny, Russia, provides ample evidence of ill-treatment and intentional physical injury. Sign the petition and demand that the Russian government investigate allegations of torture and ensure that all its prisoners are safe from harm.
Ruslan Kutaev is a well-known activist in the Chechen Republic, part of the Russian Federation. However, the authorities claim, it is not for his political activism that he has been arrested and detained, but for drug possession. Kutaev, who was never known to use drugs prior to his arrest, was taken into custody and charged with heroin possession. Suspiciously enough, the “drug bust” occurred mere days after Kutaev organized a conference in memorial of the victims of the exile of ethnic Chechens from the Caucuses following World War II. The conference was held in defiance of official prohibitions against commemorating the event, and Kutaev refused to attend a summons for a verbal reprimand from Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of the Chechan Republic. The authorities have, for the most part, denied that this is the cause for his arrest, but in a television appearance Kadyrov explicitly stated that Kutaev’s arrest came as a result of his defiance.
Amnesty International reports that drug frame-ups are not uncommon in Russia, especially when activists are the ones being arrested. Although Ruslan Kutaev confessed to possession of heroin, he alleges that he was tortured before his confession, and there is ample physical evidence to support his claim; video footage of Kutaev in jail reveals a number of bruises and “a strangely angled rib sticking out under the skin.”
Torture and the fabrication of evidence are two immense human rights violations, and such serious–and well-supported–accusations merit thorough investigation. Sign the petition and demand that the Russian government ensure Ruslan Kutaev’s safety, investigate all allegations of torture, and reevaluate the legitimacy and veracity of the charges brought against him.
Dear Prosecutor General,
I am writing to express my deep concern for the well-being of Ruslan Kutaev, who is being held in Grozny. I find the charges brought against him to be unlikely, and I am deeply disturbed by allegations and evidence of torture. I implore you to act swiftly to ensure the safety of Ruslan Kutaev–and all prisoners–and I urge you to launch a full investigation into both the torture allegations and the veracity of the charges against Kutaev.
Kutaev was arrested on February 21 for possession of heroin, despite the fact that he has never been known to use drugs. The timing of the arrest was also suspicious, coming as it did just days after Kutaev organized a conference that was highly frowned-upon by authorities. Kutaev further ruffled feathers by refusing to attend to a verbal reprimand from Head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov. Kadyrov later stated in a televised appearance that Kutaev’s activism, not alleged drug possession, was the cause for his arrest and detention.
Most worryingly, however, Kutaev has shown numerous signs of torture. His confession was likely motivated by torture, and video footage of him in prison shows his body covered with bruises. Amnesty International also reports that he has “a strangely angled rib sticking out under the skin.” Kutaev has relayed allegations of torture to his lawyers as well.
Russia is under an obligation to refrain from torture and respect the human rights of all its citizens–even those with whom it does not agree. I therefore demand that Ruslan Kutaev be kept safe from harm. I urge you to investigate his allegations of torture and bring those responsible to justice, and finally I ask you to launch a full investigation into the legitimacy and veracity of the charges against Kutaev.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Luis Argerich via Wikimedia Commons