This was testified by Grozny-based Bislan Validov, born in 1975
"On June 26th, 2001, early in the morning, I was stopped at the checkpoint in Zhukovsky Street in the city of Grozny. Hardly I opened the door of my car, someone hit me in the face with the butt of a gun. I fainted, and when I recovered, I realized that I was being taken somewhere. As it turned out later, they took me to the Internal Affairs department of the Leninsky district of the Chechen capital, Grozny. They asked a lot of questions to me, trying to find out my name, where I came from, and where I was heading. All those questions could have been asked at the checkpoint, though.
"I had an opportunity to show them my IDs and answer all their questions. My passport and all my car documents were just fine. There was a bag on my head: apparently, they put it on right I after I fell down unconscious. They did not take the bag off my head for 13 days. I could not see anything, I could only listen to people in the barracks with me. We were not allowed to talk, they beat us for our every move that they did not like. However, I managed to find out that there were two other men from my village in the cell with me.
"The next day they took me out to examine my car. Of course, they found grenades and cartridges in it, although there was nothing like that in the car before. I told them that I had no weapons with me, but they beat me up in return. I was tortured and beaten during all those thirteen days. They tortured me with electric current, they used pliers to severe small pieces of flesh from my fingertips, they transfixed my right hand with an iron stick to make me acknowledge the possession of the weapons that were found in my car. When I finally signed that paper, I realized that I signed my own death sentence. They brought more charges against me, on paragraphs 205 and 209 (participation in illegal armed groups, terrorism).
"I did not want to sign that for nine days, and they tortured and beat me up throughout that time. They injured my spine, broke my ribs, I did not feel my legs, I do not feel my left leg still. On the tenth day I gave it up and signed all statements that accused me of illegal terrorist activities. In addition to that, they made me acknowledge that my passport was a fake. As they claimed, it was issued during the period when Aslan Maskhadov's was at power, so it was not valid. After that they realized that I was insensible, so they paid less attention to me. My relatives did not know, where I was staying all that time.
"On the seventeenth day they sent me to the town of Chernokozovo. I hoped that it would be better for me there, although I hoped it wrong. They beat me really hard in Chernokozovo, they did not render any kind of medical aid to me there, they did not give any pain-killers either. In 20 days they took me back to Grozny, so I had to spend another month of interrogations and beating. Then they took me to Chernokozovo, and then I was back again.
"Nine months have passed like that. There was no trial at all, they did not pronounce any charges. However, they acquitted me on paragraph 205, for there was no evidence to prove that I was implicated in subversive activities. On March 19th 2002 I was sent to the city of Pyatigorsk, where a trial was supposed to take place. I was "welcomed" with batons, as usual. There were 21 Chechen men in the basement.
"The first session on my case took place on April 19. The court brought down a sentence on April 24th. I was acquitted on paragraph 209, although I was sentenced to spend two months in a correctional colony, for I was found guilty on all other charges. They said that I was a Chechen national, so they could not acquit me completely. However, I had to spend six months in the detention center of Pyatigorsk, although I was supposed to be sent to a correctional colony at once. Russian FSB agents came to see me in June. They tortured me, trying to make me confess that my last name was Bakalayev. They failed to prove that I was a terrorist leader, so they left me alone.
"On September 3rd, I left Pyatigorsk and went to a correctional colony in the city of Volgograd. There was another Chechen man with me. They arranged a special kind of "welcome" for us: we were the last to step off the train, they beat us up brutally and then dragged us into prison cells. We were already used to that. On September 15th I was sent to the federal prison in the town of Solikamsk, where lifetime prisoners are kept. The “welcome” that I was given there reminded me my first days in the Leninsky Internal Affairs department of Grozny. Salman Raduyev (a Chechen terrorist leader) was in the same building with me. I heard him yelling of tortures every night. On September 23rd I was sent to another prison called the Red Swan, which was 100 kilometers off Solikamsk. I found myself in a correctional colony on September 26th.
"The "hospitality" differed with the energy of my beating: somewhere they tried to show some mercy on me, although I was beaten rather brutally in other places. There were 19 Chechen men in the colony already. I spent about five months there, before I was released ahead of the scheduled time on the base of paragraph 79 of the Russian Criminal Code.
"My relatives came to pick me up on January 17th, 2003, and I finally came back home. However, they wanted to arrest me thenext day. Fortunately, I was not at home at that moment, so I decided to hide somewhere. Later on, me and my family left for the city of Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, for I had no wish at all to find myself a captive of Russian special services. God save everyone from this nightmare."
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov