Published: 14 Dec 2020
Bashir Mutsolgov was snatched away from his family in broad daylight at the garden gate of his home.
A university graduate, he had worked as a teacher at a local school, taught young cadets, and liked to repair and programme computers.
On the afternoon of 18 December 2003, Bashir was on the way back from the local grocery store when he bumped into his neighbour outside the home that he shared with his wife Aminat and his three-month-old daughter Dzhannat.
As Bashir and his neighbour spoke, two cars pulled up. Out of them emerged a group of men in camouflage uniforms, armed with assault rifles. The men ran up to Bashir and his neighbour and forced them to the ground. Bashir was hit in the stomach with a rifle-butt and bundled into one of the cars, which sped away.
Bashir’s abduction was witnessed by a large number of local residents. One witness quickly informed an on-duty traffic police officer that the cars involved in the incident were driving behind him on the same road.
The vehicles were stopped. A man of Slavic appearance, speaking unaccented Russian, got out of one of the cars and produced a special permit of the regional operational headquarters of the Federal Security Service (“FSB”), prohibiting any search of his person or the car. The traffic police officer recognised him from an unrelated incident and let the two cars pass.
There has been no news of Bashir Mutsolgov since.
About a week after Bashir’s disappearance, his brother Magomed was pulled over in his car by an FSB officer. The officer demanded money in return for information about his brother’s whereabouts. Magomed agreed to pay the money. The officer told him that Bashir had been abducted by FSB officers and taken to the agency’s department in Magas, the capital of Ingushetia. There he was allegedly tortured in order to make him confess to a crime that he had not committed. Bashir was then apparently transferred to a local military base.
Magomed Mutsolgov was subsequently approached two more times by men claiming to be FSB officers. Another security official confirmed that Bashir had been taken to the local FSB headquarters. Almost a year after his brother’s disappearance, Magomed was also handed the name of the person, a serving FSB officer, who had allegedly abducted Bashir.
In their search for Bashir, his family repeatedly appealed to various official bodies for help, including the Russian President, deputies of the State Duma, the Envoy of the President of the Russian Federation for Ensuring Human Rights and Freedoms in the Republic of Ingushetia, the administration of the Republic of Ingushetia, and departments of the interior and prosecutor’s offices at different levels.
The Mutsolgov family complained that investigators had been negligent in their duties, and that they practically had to beg them for each and every investigative measure to be undertaken.
It took an unjustified amount of time for a criminal case to be opened. One key witness was only questioned a month after Bashir’s abduction. No serious attempts were made by the investigatory authorities to verify whether the serving FSB officer had been involved in the incident.
In 2006, Bashir’s parents, Zakhidat and Adam, his brother, wife, and daughter lodged an application at the European Court of Human Rights, where they were jointly represented by EHRAC and the Russian NGO Memorial HRC.
In 2010 the European Court of Human Rights presumed Bashir Mutsolgov to be dead following his unacknowledged detention by State agents and found that Russia had violated his right to life (Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights). The Court found the investigation into Bashir’s disappearance to have been ineffective (in breach of Art. 2 in its procedural aspect), and found further violations of the right to liberty and security (Art. 5) and the right to freedom from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment (Art. 3) with respect to the distress and anguish caused to Bashir’s family as a result of his disappearance.
Dzhannat Mutsolgova, who is now 17 years old, has grown up never knowing her father.
Bashir’s brother Magomed is now a well-known human rights defender and blogger based in Karabulak, Ingushetia. He is a member of the NGO Mashr, an organisation which has been monitoring the human rights situation in Ingushetia since 2005. Mashr provides free legal aid to victims of human rights abuses and internally displaced persons in the North Caucasus region of Russia.
EHRAC submitted Bashir Mutsolgov’s case to the UN’s Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances in July 2020.
Find out more
|EHRAC turns to UN on behalf of families of missing people in Russia’s North Caucasus (News)|