Rule of Law Institute
  Cadet's Case


The continuation of the trial on the case of Sergey Lapin, former senior lieutenant of Nizhnevartovsk District Interior Department (ROVD) (also known by his radio ID as "Cadet") that was appointed for September 3 at the Oktiabrskiy Court of Grozny did not take place because of non-appearance of the defendant's advocate. The "Caucasian Knot" correspondent has learnt about it from Stanislav Markelov, advocate of the offended party. We remind you that Lapin is accused of torturing Zelimkhan Murdalov, a resident of Grozny, the capital of Chechnya.

In connection with the aforesaid, Judge Aset Mamaeva has re-appointed the session to September 13.

Earlier, the court session on Lapin's case had been appointed to August 21, but on the eve of that date, according to Natalia Estemirova, an employee of the representative office of the Human Rights Center "Memorial" in Grozny, who informed the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent, Lapin's advocate had also notified the Court by cable about his impossibility to appear.

"Advocate Degtyaryov made everything possible to protract the process till the moment, when the issue of arrest extension should be considered, and to achieve Lapin's release under recognizance not to leave, to give him later a chance 'to evaporate,' like Ulman did," Ms Estemirova believes.

"Since the defendant's advocate had been notified about the date of the session well in advance and, obviously, tried willingly to disrupt the session without any explanation of the reason, on August 21 the Court made a decision to extend Sergey Lapin's arrest by three months, and provided a local on duty advocate to him at consideration of this matter," Mr Markelov explained.

In response to it, the defendant declared his challenge of the court.

Source: 4 September 2007, Caucasian knot news




On March 29, a court in Grozny sentenced Sergei Lapin, an Interior Ministry OMON special-forces officer, to 11 years in a strict-regime labor camp on charges of inflicting bodily harm and exceeding his authority, Itar-Tass reported. According to investigators, Lapin, a police officer from the city of Nizhnevartovsk in the Khanty-Mansi Atonomous Area, illegally detained and severely beat Grozny resident Zelimkhan Murdalov while serving in Chechnya in 2001. The 22-year-old Murdalov was locked in an isolation cell, out of which Lapin took him the following day and drove him off to an unknown destination. Murdalov has not been seen or heard from since. Detainees who had been held in the same cell as Murdalov reportedly said that when they saw him the day after his arrest he was unconscious after being severely beaten and his body was mutilated, the Associated Press reported on March 29.

Chechen First Deputy Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov said Lapin's conviction showed that Russian laws operate in Chechnya and that "the republic's population enjoys the protection of the Russian constitution," Itar-Tass reported. Chechnya's chief prosecutor, Vladimir Kravchenko, called the punishment "quite proportionate to Lapin's crime," adding that police and military "are dispatched to Chechnya not to kill, rape, or humiliate civilians." The Mardalov family's lawyer, Stanislav Markelov, said he was in general happy with the verdict, Novye izvestia reported on March 30. However, the newspaper quoted the victim's father as saying that 11 years was too little for the person who had taken away Zelimkhan and that he still had not found out where to look for his son.

Source: Chechnya Weekly, Volume 6, Issue 13 (March 30, 2005)




The Chechen prosecutor's office has begun a criminal investigation against the head of a special police unit from the Khanty-Mansi autonomous district, in connection with the disappearance of a Chechen resident.

A special police force commander named Prilepsky and his deputy Minin have been charged with an abuse of power and causing grievous bodily harm to Zelimkhan Murdalov, the Interfax news agency quoted the lawyer Stanislav Markelov representing Murdalov's father.

Murdalov went missing in January 2002, the report said. His body has not been found. "Nobody any longer has any doubt that he is dead," Markelov said.

Earlier, another special police officer, Sergei Lapin, was charged in connection with the case. Similar charges have now been brought against his commander and his deputy.

Source: MosNews, 16 December 2005,




Of course, it is yet a long way to go to an international tribunal, but the European court for human rights is still there. On December 8 this instance commenced to review the first case on the disappearance of a person in Chechnya. Fatima Bazorkina residing in Ingushetia accused the Russian authorities of failure to investigate the disappearance of her son, 25 year old Khadji-Murat Yandyev. His interrogation by the Russian military in the village of Alkhan-Kala near Grozny was filmed by the NTV and CNN television channels in February 2000. Since then relatives have not received any news from the young man and in August 2000 they were informed that Yandyev is not kept in any Russian prison.

Several days later, on December 13, the European Court for human rights accepted the complaints on the killing of petitioners’ relatives during ‘a cleansing operation’ conducted by the federal forces in Novy Aldakh (Chechnya) on February 5, 2000 that made 56 persons victims. All in all, the European Court for human rights in Strasbourg has accumulated about 200 complaints of Chechens against the crimes committed by the Russian military: torture, kidnappings, out-of-court arrests and killings.

Despite the fact that the decisions on these cases will not be taken soon, the behaviour of Russian forces in Chechnya may cost a pretty penny to the nation. In December the European Court published a decision on the case ‘Ilyas Timishev versus Russia.’ Russia has to pay almost 6 thousand euro for the traffic police inspector’s preventing the refugee from Chechnya to reach Nalchik (that is, for violating the guarantees of the freedom of movement only).

However, there are grounds to believe that the law enforcement agencies of the Russian Federation may reduce the expenses of its compatriots related to paying for arbitrary actions in Chechnya. One of the steps in this direction was made by Chechnya’s prosecution office that initiated legal proceedings against the commander of the Khanty-Mansi OMON (special purpose) police force Alexander Prilepin. This case is the logical follow-up of the ‘case of Lapin (Cadet)’ who tortured Chechnya’s national Zelimhan Murdalov to death. Defence lawyer Stanislav Markelov reported that that during legal proceedings against the OMON police force officer Sergei Lapin ‘the involvement of the detachment commander and his deputy was revealed.’ In the spring of 2005 the October district court of the city of Grozny sentenced OMON policeman Sergei Lapin to 11 years’ imprisonment. Major Prilepin would not wait for the lot of his subordinate and, having found out about the initiation of the criminal case went into hiding.

Source: “Demos”, Situation in the Chechen Republic, №3, December 2005,
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