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Chechen denied asylum in Switzerland as authorities deem Chechnya ‘safe’ for his return

17 October 2023
Ali Batayev, Image: Novaya Gazeta Europe.

A Chechen man has been denied asylum in Switzerland and is due to be deported to Chechnya after the Swiss authorities deemed it ‘safe’ for him to return.

Ali Batayev, 40, emigrated to Europe from Ukraine after Russia began its invasion in 2022. He was detained by the Swiss authorities later that year, and has been in a deportation centre since.

Lachin Mamishov, the representative of the Chechen Ichkerian Republic in exile in Switzerland, stated that Batayev’s rights were violated, as he was not provided with an interpreter and was represented by a public lawyer.

‘The Swiss authorities plan to send Batayev to Russia where he will die due to his criticism of the Kadyrov regime’, warned Mamishov, according to RFE/RL.

Vayfond, a Chechen human rights group representing Batayev, reported that Batayev’s wife had received a letter from the Swiss authorities claiming that the ‘security situation in Chechnya has been constantly and steadily improving’.

The letter reportedly suggested that the human rights situation in the republic was also improving, and that Russian and Chechen security forces ‘no longer’ conducted random checks or detentions.

A Vayfond spokesperson told OC Media on Tuesday that Switzerland’s claim that Chechnya was safe had come as a ‘surprise’ to the group.

‘It takes great courage to assert things that are diametrically opposed to the position of international human rights organisations and objective reality’, they told OC Media. ‘Although, perhaps, we are talking about a basic lack of conscience and morality among the authors of this decision.’

A lawyer from Vayfond also told OC Media that both the rule of Chechnya by Akhmat and Ramzan Kadyrov, and Russia’s war in Ukraine, have driven many Chechens to seek asylum in Europe. 

‘There are a lot of asylum refusals. Refugees are forced to go to court. […] The decisions still say that Russia is big and Chechens have somewhere to go other than Chechnya itself’.