A video shows the Russian police who brutally burst into the premises of a shelter for women victims of violence, on June 10, in Makhachkala (Dagestan), and forcibly take away Khalimat Taramova, 22, the daughter of a Chechen dignitary with fled domestic violence. The young girl had nevertheless requested police protection. A betrayal that leaves the volunteers of the Marem project, who come to the aid of women victims of violence in the North Caucasus, dumbfounded.
It was 10 p.m. on the evening of June 10, when a police officer knocked on the door of the Marem project premises in Makhachkala. Project volunteer Maysarat Kilyaskhanova says he is alone. With another volunteer, Svetlana Anokhina, they carefully open the door to the crisis apartment where their association accommodates women victims of violence. Suddenly, two men in civilian clothes come forward and try to force their way. Other women come running from their rooms to try to stop them, but the men manage to pull them by force on the landing. Once the passage is cleared, we see Khalimat Taramova’s father enter the room, who came in person to pick up his daughter, who had fled Chechnya to escape domestic violence.
It is Ayoub Taramov, businessman and former head of the administration of Chechnya in the 2000s, close to the leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
The video of the intervention was published on the Instagram account of the Marem project on June 17:
The video was filmed via one of the surveillance cameras installed in the crisis apartment, which Maysarat turned on “at the right time”.
Two volunteers from the Marem project and two women they were sheltering were arrested by the police the same day. Meanwhile, Khalimat Taramova was allegedly taken by men in civilian clothes in Jeeps with Chechen registration numbers, according to a friend who helped her escape, Anna Manylova, interviewed by the Kholod newspaper.
After fleeing from Grozny (Chechnya) to Makhachkala, 170 km to the east, Khalimat Taramova had nevertheless sent a video to the police on June 6 asking not to search for her. “I left my home of my own free will, to escape regular violence and threats,” the young woman said in the video. “I ask that I not issue a federal wanted notice and that I do not disclose any information regarding my whereabouts, as this would put my life in danger.”
The video, filmed on June 6 and sent to the police, was published by the Zona.media newspaper on June 11, after the kidnapping of Khalimat Taramova by the police.
Khalimat told Project Marem volunteers that she wanted a divorce, but her family refused to take her in and threatened her with death. Her friend Anna Manylova clarified that Khalimat was suspected by her family of being a lesbian. In Chechnya, homosexuals are persecuted and even tortured.
“The policeman promised us he was going to protect her”
Based in Makhachkala in Dagestan, the Marem project provides psychological, legal and material support to women victims of blackmail, domestic violence, rape or incest in the North Caucasus. The volunteers who tried to help Khalimat Taramova feel betrayed by the police, who had promised to protect her, they say.
Maysarat Kilyaskhanova, a 25-year-old volunteer from Dagestan arrested during the intervention of the police on June 10, told the Observers editorial staff that a police officer had already passed by the apartment a few hours earlier:
At around 4 p.m., the police came for the first time. We showed the video where Khalimat said she left voluntarily and didn’t want to be looked for. When our lawyer arrived there, we decided to let the police officer come in so that he could see that Khalimat was okay. He spoke with her for an hour, he asked her to make one more video, he even took a selfie with her. He promised us that he was going to remove the wanted poster and that he was going to protect her.
Le projet Marem a publié une vidéo du premier passage du policier sur son compte Instagram le 13 juin. On peut le voir faire un selfie avec Khalimat, qui rit avec lui.
Vers 22 h, il a frappé à nouveau à notre porte. Il a dit qu’il était seul. Nous avons pensé qu’il venait nous parler de la protection de Khalimat et on lui a ouvert la porte. Et c’est là que tout à coup, des hommes ont commencé à essayer d’entrer dans l’appartement.
“Les intérêts des femmes en Russie, et dans le Caucase en particulier, sont souvent la dernière des priorités”
Svetlana Anokhina, journaliste de 58 ans née à Makhatchkala, est l’une des fondatrices du projet. Rédactrice pour le portail féministe Daptar, elle travaille sur les violences faites aux femmes depuis de nombreuses années.
[Khalimat] contacted us because they were beating her. She said she wanted to divorce her husband because he was beating her, she had shown us wounds. She asked to return to her family, because when a woman leaves her husband in the Caucasus, she cannot live alone, she has to go back to her parents. But according to her, her father told her that if she did that he would have her killed.
We cannot verify the seriousness of a threat, but we understand one thing: if a person flees from their home, without having committed a crime, and they are being prosecuted, then they must be hidden.
A young adult girl explains for an hour to a police officer that she is in danger, he leaves again promising protection and returns with the person from whom she asked to be protected! It is monstrous. Our policemen behaved like lackeys, they simply cleared the passage for those Khalimat was fleeing. The police are not playing the role they should at all.
The interests of women in Russia, and in the Caucasus in particular, are often the last of the priorities. We must re-educate those who think that their children are their property. That we can punish them, cut them off from the world, kill them, intimidate them, marry them, prevent them from getting divorced… These actions must be punished by law, and the law must be respected.
The volunteers of the Marem project intend to file a complaint. They do not intend to be intimidated and want to continue their activity, despite the stress caused by this incident.
The photos show the injuries of one of the women housed by the Marem project, herself a victim of domestic violence, who tried to block the road to the police to protect Khalimat Taramova.
After several days with no news, Khalimat Taramova appeared in a Chechen TV report on June 14, 2021. “How did I get there? Everything is a blur, I don’t remember,” she says, her eyes lowered, standing behind her father, before ensuring… that she does not suffer any violence in her family (from 6’07 to 7’53 below).
Ayub Taramov claimed that his daughter suffered from serious psychological disorders.
Nurdi Nukhadkhiev, human rights referent of the Chechen Republic, affirmed on June 13 that Khalimat Taramova had found herself in the crisis center in Dagestan by chance, under the influence of her friends. The Minister of National Policy and External Relations Akhmed Dudaev, for his part, stressed the absence of any abuse by the police.