"That was hell"
Transcript of a Radio Liberty Chechen Service interview of Alavdi Sadykov, a survivor of the prison of Oktyabrsky District in Grozny
25 June 2006
Ahmed Sultanov, Radio Liberty journalist: The massacres and tortures of people in Grozny by Russian policemen from Khanty-Mansiysky District of Russia was discussed in the media just for one day. The authorities knew about the atrocities of these policemen, but did not care.
The most notorious case was the murder of Zelim Murdalov, aged 26. He was severely tortured and then killed by Sergei Lapin, an OMON (special assignments detachment) policeman from Khanty-Mansiysk.
Perhaps, Alavdi Sadykov is the only survivor among the witnesses of these tortures. "That was hell", Alavdi, a former teacher, tells. He spent thee month in this prison, from March to May 2000.
Alavdi Sadykov: Around the 11th, another man was brought there, Kudryavtsev. Like myself, he is also a witness. Two men from Okruzhnoi, Magomed Djabagov and Ahmed Tavsultanov, were in the next cell. There also was one roofer. The policemen cut off his ear and then told him they would also cut off his head. That OMON man had a big knife – as far as I know, such knives are used to kill cows. Than this OMON man went to the cell where Magomed Djabagov and Ahmed Tavsultanov were, and started to torture them. I could hear horrible cries from their cell. To many people, the policemen cut off fingers. Thus, they cut off fingers to Arthur, Mansur, Isa Karnukaev.
At one point, some ill Russian was brought there… But it would even be awkward to tell what the policemen did to him.
Ahmed Sultanov: Were there any rebels among the prisoners?
Alavdi Sadykov: I cannot know this for sure. Judging from what I heard from people I met there, there were no rebels among them. To Isa, the policemen put some drugs and arrested him. Mansur was brought in as a refugee.
Kyura was arrested on Saikhanov Street. He had come there to take his mother out of the city. They arrested him, and beat him nearly to death. Later, he was released for a ransom of five thousand dollars. I have heard that he died two days after that.
Ahmed Sultanov: There were also some young women and boys in this prison. "When we heard the tortured girls shouting from pain,'' Alavdi tells, ''we cried".
Alavdi Sadykov: Around the 20th they brought in Louisa Bapaeva, Sherip Khaisumov, Ramzan Alavdinov. They chained this Louisa and put her in the corner. She was about 27-year-old and at the seventh month of pregnancy. The policemen beat Sherip and Rizvan with a maul, demanding them to confess to something.
The boss, Banin, tortured us all the time. Policeman Rashid Yegofarov constantly labeled us "terrorists", "sharp-shooters", "bin Ladens". This Yegofarov is responsible for many corpses.
I saw a pile of about eight people who laid on the floor after being tortured. Their condition was so horrible that they could not even move, let alone stand up.
There also were two girls chained to beds – Fatima and Malika. They were raped.
Ahmed Sultanov: An OSCE commission visited this prison in those three months which Alavdi spent there. Alavdi and other prisoners were hidden from this commission in secret rooms, Alavdi tells.
Alavdi Sadykov: Early in the morning, the guards ran to us and hide us in another place. There were two corpses, and the guards threw them away. One guy was hidden together with me. We spent eight hours there. Meanwhile, they showed to the commission empty cells, as clean as a pharmacy.
Three or four days later, the boss told me: "God forbid you to tell anybody that we have cut off your ear. If you do that, we will kill you immediately. You tell that the rebels have cut off your ear." Two days after this conversation, the boss came to me together with the prosecutor. The prosecutor asked me how was my ear. So I understood that they had already talked about it.
Ahmed Sultanov: Alavdi knows many names of the men who tortured people in this prison. He knows places and cities where these men work now. They explained quite frankly why they did all these atrocities.
Alavdi believes there are a great lot of such places in Grozny and all over Chechnya.
Alavdi Sadykov: They label and kill people very easily. They only get promoted for this. They would often say: "No man – no problem". They would also say "If there is a man, we can easily find a penal code article against him".
This is not the only place where they torture and kill people like that. I know several such places in one district. Can you imagine how many of them may be found around the whole republic? If you try to calculate, there is evidently a lot of them.
Ahmed Sulatanov: When this place, where people were severely tortured and killed, was found, the local authorities simply ignored this fact. They would never care about that. But some human rights activists are trying to prevent this issue from being forgotten.