Published: 14 Dec 2020
At the time of his disappearance, Adam Medov’s wife Zalina was heavily pregnant with their second child.
The couple lived in the town of Karabulak in the southern Russian republic of Ingushetia. Adam, who was 24-years-old, worked as a taxi driver, and had been temporarily staying in the nearby city of Nazran.
One summer evening, Adam when out for a drive. He did not return.
The next day, Adam called his brother Magomed and said that his car had broken down. He tried to say where he was, but his phone was abruptly cut off.
Another day passed. On the evening of 17 June 2004, Adam’s family were informed that he was being held at a police station in the town of Sunzha, near the Chechen border.
Several of Adam’s relatives, including his father and two brothers, rushed to the police station that night. There they were told that Adam had been found tied up in the boot of a car which had been stopped by traffic police at the crossing between Ingushetia and the neighbouring republic of Chechnya. Another man had been found tied up in the boot of another car. Arrests were made. Adam and the other man were taken along with their captors to the nearby police station.
According to police, Adam was later questioned. He explained that he had been apprehended near the Sunzha restaurant in Sleptsovskaya. He apparently said that he had been taken to the headquarters of the Federal Security Service (FSB) in Magas, the capital of Ingushetia, where he had been tortured.
As the evening progressed, the mood soured, and the Medov family became increasingly determined to see Adam. Two of his brothers, Magomed and Usman, were initially offered to visit Adam inside the station. But when they entered, they heard someone shout: “No visits! They should leave!” The brothers were then escorted off the premises.
Shortly after, Adam’s family, who had been waiting outside the building, were told that he and another detainee had been driven to Chechnya.
This was the last news that Adam’s family had of him.
The Medovs immediately started a desperate search. They repeatedly applied in person and in writing to the Ministry of the Interior, the FSB, administrative authorities and public figures.
They were met by a wall of silence.
In the course of the family’s search, however, a local prosecutor was able to confirm to them that Adam had in fact been detained by officers of Chechnya’s FSB department under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Beletskiy V.V.
But Chechnya’s FSB chief categorically denied that Adam had been arrested or detained by its officers and said that they had no information about his whereabouts. The FSB later claimed that Lieutenant-Colonel Beletskiy V.V. and other named servicemen were not members of its staff.
Adam’s wife Zalina applied to the European Court of Human Rights in 2004, alleging that her husband had disappeared following his abduction by State agents and that no proper investigation had taken place. She was represented by lawyers from EHRAC and the Russian NGO Memorial HRC.
Months later, Zalina Medova alleged that people claiming to belong to the FSB had offered her money via a relative to withdraw her application. A man, who said he was an FSB officer, also made direct threats against her.
In its judgment, issued in 2009, the European Court of Human Rights found that Russia had failed to comply with its positive obligation under the right to life (Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights) to protect the life of Adam Medov, and that the authorities had failed to carry out an effective criminal investigation into the circumstances surrounding his disappearance (in breach of Art. 2 in its procedural aspect). The Court also found an additional violation of the right to liberty (Art. 5), and that Adam’s wife Zalina had been deprived of her right to an effective remedy (Art. 13 in conjunction with Art. 2).
EHRAC submitted Adam Medov’s case to the UN’s Working Group on Enforced Disappearances in June 2020.
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