Le Monde: New terrorist campaign threatens Chechen bloggers in Europe
Many opponents of the regime of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov in Europe received messages and videos threatening their relatives who remained in Chechnya, in a campaign that activists saw as turning into a new method of chasing them through a tactic that passes through relatives, organized by the Chechen regime.
And the French newspaper Le Monde said that the messages that appeared suddenly, were chilling and of unknown source, and Tomso Abdurahmanov, one of the most critical voices of the Chechen regime on his Telegram channel on December 22, received a message saying to him, “We will start soon In sending you pictures of your loved ones, some of them are dying or may die, if you can recognize their disfigured faces,” a winking little smiley expression followed, “As for your cousin, I guess, we’ll enjoy it.”
This is how the 37-year-old refugee and blogger in Sweden learned about the disappearance of 9 members of his family – according to a report Isabel Mandro told the newspaper – “They were kidnapped”, in the small Caucasus country with a Muslim majority ruled by Ramzan Kadyrov, and in the same way 6 other Chechen refugees in Germany, Austria, Turkey and Russia received threats, with the loss of more than 100 relatives.
The newspaper adds that although half of the kidnapped people later regained their freedom, the other half is still inaccessible and knowledgeable. Therefore, the terrified Chechen diaspora gathered in front of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg (300 delegates), some wrapped in the flag of independent Chechnya and the symbol of the wolf, and handed over to the Commissioner for Human Rights. A text requesting his help to “liberate the innocent,” and explains that “these people were taken hostage only because they are relatives of bloggers, human rights activists, and public figures living abroad with the aim of putting pressure on them and obstructing their activities.”
The involvement of the Chechen regime
Many delegates carried banners bearing the words “Chechen Lives Matter”, in reference to the “Black Lives Matter in North America” movement, and many of them wore masks and head coverings to hide their faces for fear of reprisals, due to the atmosphere of terror that their country’s regime provokes. , who orders the killing of many opponents on European soil.
The newspaper’s report indicated that the Chechen regime’s involvement in this new terrorist campaign is beyond doubt, based on the disclosure of journalist Christo Grosev, from the investigative website Bellingcat, that the phone number from which one of the threatening messages was sent belongs to a 28-year-old officer. In the Russian special forces, he reports personally to President Ramzan Kadyrov.
The report indicated that the target recipients of these new threats were not chosen randomly, and the number of a group of activists in different countries engaged in many activities in the field of human rights, including, for example, Abu Bakr Yangulbaev from the Committee against Torture in Pyatigorsk, southern Russia, who reported the kidnapping of 40 members of his family, and German-based blogger Menkel Malezef who received photos of his family members nude, including his mother.
According to the report, one of the most famous people included in Grozny’s “list of terrorists” is Tomso Abdurahmanov, who made a trip to Strasbourg in front of the Council of Europe, has a YouTube channel with more than 430,000 followers, and a Telegram account with 30,000 followers, and was directly targeted by During threats of “bloody retaliation” announced in 2019 by Magomed Daudov, head of the local parliament and right-hand man of President Kadyrov, he was also the target of a hammer attack in Sweden, and his assailants, a Russian man and woman, were sentenced to 10 and 8 years in prison, respectively.
For her part, Rosa (her first name has been changed at her request) said, “Threats we receive constantly but this is the first time that they are so huge,” adding, “They chose their moment well during the end of the year celebrations, and for the first time also, they kidnapped women.”
The newspaper pointed out that the message that says “You are not safe wherever you are” is not new, and it is among the repeated threats directed at those who criticize the regime in Chechnya “on the Internet” from abroad. Rather, the president promised them the worst in 2019 during a speech broadcast by the Grozny public channel, in which he said “If they are not killed, imprisoned or arrested, no one will survive.” However, this time the threat came with a particularly disturbing context for the Chechen opponents after the court in Moscow announced the liquidation of the Memorial organization, classified as a “foreign agent”.
Tomso Abdurahmanov warned that when such organizations are closed, the authorities begin to do what they want, and the Russians will be the first to suffer, although they may not fully realize this today, and pointed out that the Center for the Defense of Human Rights of the famous Russian NGO, often He brought before the courts the numerous violations committed by the authorities in Chechnya, and denounced the persecution of anyone who dared criticize Ramzan Kadyrov.
The newspaper concluded that the lack of security in Europe now has exacerbated the fears, especially that the members of the Chechen diaspora, who are portrayed by the Russian and Chechen authorities as “terrorists”, are subjected to expulsions for the slightest suspicion at times, and it is unlikely that their fears will be calmed by the weak echo of the new terrorist campaign, despite their urgent appeals to the authorities. European Union to condemn such practices.