LIVE UPDATES: A prominent Chechen writer and former official has disappeared, joining a long list of others who have gone missing, only some of whom have returned to recant on TV.
Welcome to our column, Russia Update, where we will be closely following day-to-day developments in Russia, including the Russian government’s foreign and domestic policies.
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Yesterday, September 1, Martagon, age 66, an independent journalist and former press official in previous Chechen governments received a phone call from the office of Jambulat Umarov, head of the Chechen Republic’s Ministry for National Policy, External Liaison, Print and Information.
Martagov spent the morning at the Ministry but his relatives don’t know why he was called or what he did there. He returned home at 2:00 pm, but then was summoned again for a meeting at the Ministry. There, he sat next to Said-Selim Abdulmuslimov, deputy minister, who had a conversation with him after the meeting. Then Abdulmuslimov later told his relatives that he supposedly called a taxi for Martagov himself.
Critic of Both Anti-Moscow and Pro-Moscow Chechen Regimes
The Chechen government had responded with advice, threats and even negative articles against him in the official press.
Crackdown on Dissident Chechen Elections and Historians
“I met with writers and scholars of the Chechen Republic. We discussed the state of affairs in the world of the Academy of Sciences of the Chechen Republic and the Union of Writers. It’s very nice that scholars and the creative intelligentsia are working productively…”Meanwhile, participants of the meeting said with concern that certain pseudo-intellectuals are putting out brochures and books distorting the history of Islam, information about the Chechen people from ancient times to our days. They cited above all Rizvan Igragimov and Abbubakar Didyev, who have published books with print runs of many thousands, actually pursuing the goal of blackening religion, and provoking international dislike. Such evaluations were given by Islamic scholars Adam Shakhidov, Magomed Khitanayev, Academician Supyan Magomadov, Kanta Igragimov, academician, chairman of the government of the Chechen Republic, and others. The inconsistency in the works of Rizvan Ibragimov and Abubakar Ididyev have been proven through a commission’s comprehensive analysis of tests and by free discussion. Both authors themselves publicly noted that their books are not established on a scholarly basis. These “theologians” do not have even an elementary religious education. They apologized before the scholarly community and clergy of Chechnya.”
I…Rizvan Ibragimov, spend the last four days from the night of the 1st to the 2nd of April at the Oktyabrsky District Police Precinct in Grozny. No one kidnapped me, but I was held for fear that I may go into hiding. Today there were discussions with the headed of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov after which Abubakar Didiyev and I were released. No forceful measures were used against us…I express enormous gratitude toward all those who were worried about us.”
The Chechen villager had called in to President Vladimimr Putin’s TV marathon in April accused local authorities of extortion and poor living conditions. His home was torched and soon he found himself apologizing profusely on TV, and Kadyrov forgave him, claiming others had put him up to this evil deed.
Are Bastrykin and Chechen Law-Enforcers at Odds?
Meanwhile, whatever temporary victory Bastrykin or his locally-installed representatives had in Chechnya, it may have been reversed. We know Bastrykin has faced humiliations in the past. Recently, Kadyrov showed on his Instagram that during a trip to Moscow where he also met Putin, Bastrykin gave him an award and praised him for his observance of human rights.