Russia: Abduction of mother of prominent human rights lawyer Abubakar Yangulbaev

Urgent Appeal

RUS 002 / 0122 / OBS 006
Arbitrary detention /
Enforced disappearance /
At risk of torture and ill-treatment /
Russian Federation
January 22, 2022

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in the Russian Federation.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed about the abduction of the mother of prominent human rights lawyer Abubakar Yangulbaev working for the NGO Committee Against Torture, a member of the OMCT-SOS Torture Network.

On the evening of January 20, 2022, a group of men in civil clothes, allegedly belonging to the Chechen law enforcement, broke into the home of Abubakar Yangulbaev’s family in the city of Nizhny Novgorod, in the Nizhny Novgorod Oblast. Zarema Musaeva and Sayda Yangulbaev, Mr. Abubakar’s mother and father, respectively, were beaten and hit several times by the police officers, who also used force against other family members, the lawyer and human rights defenders of the Committee against Torture who came to help. During the raid, Abubakar Yangulbaev’s colleagues called the police,the Investigative Committee, and Federal Security Serviceto prevent the abduction, but the police took a long time to respond and arrived only three hours after the abduction. Zarema Musaeva was detained by force and put in a car with registration numbers of the Chechen Republic. Her arrest related to a fraud case in the Republic of Chechnya dating from 2019. The officers did not present an arrest warrant but a document stating Ms. Musaeva had to be interrogated as a witness in the said case. Yet the document failed to explain Ms. Musaeva’s relation to the case and the reason of her arrest. She was transferred to an unknown location. Sayda Yangulbaev, Abubakar Yangulbaev’s father, was not detained due to his status as a federal judge.

At noon on January 21, 2022, President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, Sergei Peskov, responding to a journalist’s question, stated: "we prefer not to believe such reports [about the abduction] without confirmation." In the evening of January 21, 2022 a video of a meeting of Chechen Ombudsperson with Ms. Zarema Musaeva was broadcasted. In the video, Ms. Musaeva stated that no violence was used and that she was provided with medicines. Yet, in the video she looked weak and hardly spoke. On the same day, the head of Chechen Republic, Mr. Ramzan Kadyrov, commenting on the abduction of Ms. Musaeva stated that the whole Yangulbaev family should be either jailed or buried in the ground. At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal her whereabouts and health situation remained unknown.

The Observatory underlines that Ms. Musaeva’s health is at high risk. During the detention, she lost consciousness. Police officers did not allow her to take the treatment she needs for her diabetes condition nor any warm clothes. Moreover, on the same day of the arrest, Ms. Musaeva had been tested for Covid-19 and was waiting for the results as she was presenting compatible symptoms.

The Observatory strongly condemns the arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance of Zarema Musaeva and regards this as reprisals for his son’s legitimate human rights work. In this regard, the Observatory recalls that in December 2021 Abubakar Yangulbaev was himself detained and released after interrogation as a witness. In December several relatives of the family were kidnapped in Chechnya, two of them remain in detention. In 2017 Abubakar’s brother, Ibragim Yangulbaev was detained and tortured by the Chechen police, and arrested on politically motivated charges. He was released in 2019 and filed a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights in 2020.

The Observatory urges the Russian and Chechen authorities to immediately and unconditionally disclose Ms. Musaeva’s fate and whereabouts, and to grant her immediate access to adequate medical treatment.

Moreover, the Observatory urges the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Ms. Musaeva and to carry out a swift, thorough, transparent and independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding her enforced disappearance, and to put an immediate end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Abubakar Yangulbaev and his family.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Russia, urging them to:

i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Ms. Zarema Musaeva and grant her access to adequate medical treatment;

ii. Immediately and unconditionally disclose the whereabouts and fate of Ms. Zarema Musaeva;

iii. Immediately and unconditionally release Ms. Zarema Musaeva, as her detention is arbitrary since it only seems to aim at punishing her for her son’s legitimate human rights activities;

iv. Conduct an immediate, thorough, transparent and independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding Ms. Zarema Musaeva enforced disappearance, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and punish them as provided by the law;

v. Put an immediate end to all act of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Abubakar Yangulbaev, his family as well as against all human rights defenders in the Russian Federation.


· Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, Twitter: @KremlinRussia_E
· Mr. Mikhail Mishustin, Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Twitter:@GovernmentRF
· Mr. Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, E-mail:
· Mr. Igor Krasnov, General Prosecutor of the Russian Federation, Email:
· Mr. Alexander Bortnikov, Director of Federal Security Service (FSS), Email:
· Mr. Ramzan Kadyrov, head of the Chechen Republic, Email:
· Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. E-mail:
· Embassy of the Russian Federation in Brussels, Belgium. E-mail:
· Permanent Representation of the Russian Federation to the Council of Europe, France. Email:

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of the Russian Federation in your respective countries.

Paris-Geneva, January 22, 2022

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· E-mail:
· Tel. FIDH: +33 1 43 55 25 18
· Tel. OMCT: +41 22 809 49 39

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