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‘Citizens council’ expels families of slain militants in Chechnya

31 January 2017

A ‘citizens council’ in the town Shali decided to expel the relatives of militants involved in a shootout with security forces on 29 January.

The head of the district administration (and cousin of Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov), Turpal Ali Ibragimov, the local chief of police, the Qadi (an islamic judge), and two ministers, the Akhmadov brothers, chaired the meeting. Participants condemned the actions of the militants and laid responsibility for the incident with their relatives. According to officials, it is sufficient to have mosques and schools for a decent life in Chechnya.

‘What more do we need? We have the mosque, where we can pray, and schools, where our children can study’, said Turpal Ali Ibragimov, Head of the Shali Administration.

According to other speakers, who supported the line taken by the authorities, relatives should take more responsibility for the actions of their children. This once again raised the question of collective responsibility in Chechnya. Relatives of the dead militants stood at the meeting with their heads bowed.

The council, after a brief discussion, decided unanimously to expel the families. At first they will be expelled from Shali, but if previous examples are followed, they will likely be expelled from Chechnya. It is possible the Shali exiles will follow previous exiles from Chechnya, but for now, their whereabouts are unknown.

However, not all residents of Shali fully supported the council’s decision. All of the families in question are respected and active members of public life in the town. In addition, many believe that the decision is against Russian law.

'We cannot understand which laws we should follow? What prevails: Russian law or Chechen adat [local customary laws]? According to adat, if a person has already been killed, his family should not be held responsible. While local authorities read articles from the Russian Constitution when it suits them, and in other cases recall national traditions’, said Valid, a citizen of Shali.

However, Chechens expect increasingly harsh measures from law enforcement. Ramzan Kadyrov at an emergency meeting with the leadership of the security forces, demanded that operational activities in the community to be strengthened, to act preemptively.