European Court questions Russian authorities about killing of 25-year-old man in his home in Ingushetia

Published: 2 Nov 2017

On 2 November 2017, the European Court of Human Rights initiated the examination of the case of Maxim Kuriyev, who was killed by the Ingushetia Federal Security Service (FSB) in the home he shared with his mother, Layla Kuriyeva. She is represented by the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC), based at Middlesex University, and Memorial Human Rights Centre (Moscow).

Maxim Kuriyev and Layla Kuriyeva lived in a small two-roomed mobile home in Pliyevo, a settlement situated next to Nazran (Ingushetia). Between 4am and 5am on 22 March 2014, about 100 servicemen in camouflage uniforms and balaclavas cordoned off their home and several other houses in the vicinity. The officers asked Maxim and his mother to come out of their house. At about 6.30am, Maxim was asked to re-enter the house to answer questions. His mother was made to go to the Centre for Counter Extremism in Nazran for questioning, under threat of physical force. When she returned to the house at about 8.30am, the police prevented her from entering. Shortly afterwards, an ambulance arrived, and a body bag was carried out of the mobile home. The authorities would not permit Ms Kuriyeva to see the body, but she understood it to be her son’s.  On entering her home, she found a large bloodstain (60 by 60cm) on the floor, that a small piece of the roof had been cut out, and some personal items and valuables were missing. She received her son’s body from the morgue that evening.

The Ingushetia FSB claimed that during the search, Maxim shot at officers using a pistol kept in a dresser in the mobile home, and that they killed him in self-defence. However, his mother claims that he did not have a gun and that the search was unlawful.  During the same security operation on the same day, another man was killed in his own home, also for allegedly attacking a police officer.

Ms. Kuriyeva argues that her son was unlawfully killed by State agents as a result of the disproportionate use of lethal force, and that the authorities failed to carry out an effective investigation into his death, in violation of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), nor did she have any effective domestic remedy (Article 13 ECHR). She also complains that the authorities conducted an unlawful search of her home, in breach of the right to respect for her private and family life, and her home (Article 8 ECHR).

This case reflects a systemic problem of lack of investigation and accountability for deaths at state hands: extrajudicial killings have been lamentably common in the North Caucasus since the Chechen wars, and the European Court has found Russia responsible for egregious human rights abuses in hundreds of cases since 2005.

The Government must now provide its response to Ms Kuriyeva’s claim, after which EHRAC and Memorial will submit her reply.