Maskhadov v the Russian Federation
Forum: European Court of Human Rights
INTERIGHTS' role: Counsel to applicant
Keywords: Right to life, right to private and family life, freedom of religion
Elected in 1997 as president of the breakaway Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, Aslan Maskhadov was killed on 8 March 2005 in the village of Tolstoi-Yurt in Chechnya during the course of special operations carried out by Russia’s internal security services, the FSB. The precise circumstances regarding Maskhadov’s death are disputed, although the family contends that Maskhadov was killed by FSB agents.
The Russian authorities failed to inform Maskhadov’s family of his death. The family learned this news via reports on State television which were triumphalist in tone and included footage of Mr Maskhadov’s corpse displaying multiple bullet wounds and bruising.
The Russian authorities failed to carry out any adequate investigation into Mr Maskhadov’s death and refused to release his body for burial despite repeated requests from his family. They sought to justify their decision by arguing that Maskhadov had been engaged in terrorist activity.
Maskhadov’s family is arguing before the Court that Russia violated Mr Maskhadov’s right to life both through its responsibility for his killing and its failure to carry out an independent investigation into his death subsequently. They also contend that by allowing Maskhadov’s corpse to be displayed on State television and refusing to release it for burial in accordance with Chechen customs and beliefs, Russia has subjected the family to inhuman and degrading treatment, violated their right to respect for private and family life, discriminated against them on the grounds of religion and ethnicity, and violated their rights to manifest their religious beliefs. The case is due to be heard in the course of 2008.
INTERIGHTS Contact: Vesselina Vandova, Senior Lawyer, Security and the Rule of Law Programme
BBC News: Russia Buries Maskahdov in Secret