Tajik foreign minister hits out at Russia’s apparent torturing of terrorism accused

Tajik foreign minister hits out at Russia’s apparent torturing of terrorism accused
(Clockwise from top left) Alleged terrorists Dalerjon Mirzoev, Shamsudin Fariduni, Muhammadsobir Fayzov and Rachabalizod Saidakrami at a remand hearing on March 24. / Tass
By bne IntelliNews April 14, 2024

Tajikistan's foreign minister on April 12 hit out at Russia’s apparent torturing of the mostly Tajik suspects in last month’s terrorist attack on an outer Moscow concert hall that took the lives of more than 140 people.

Sirojiddin Muhriddin (above), speaking in Minsk at a meeting of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), also criticised what he described as a media campaign to slander Tajiks. His comments came amid more reports that Tajikistan—the economy of which is heavily reliant on remittances sent home by migrant workers employed in Russia—is seriously concerned by the number of Tajiks who have responded to the Russian backlash against Central Asian migrants in the wake of the terror attack by heading home.

After the attack on Crocus City Hall on March 22, several Tajiks were arrested and showed signs of physical abuse when they appeared in Basmanny District Court in Moscow. The accused included four alleged gunmen who had bruised and swollen faces. They also showed other signs of having been severely beaten. There were unconfirmed reports that one of those detained had his ear cut off during his arrest.

"The use of torture in the form of bodily mutilation is unacceptable," Muhriddin said on April 12. "The price of confessions extracted in this way is well known to everyone."

Muhriddin added that Russian security authorities should respect the rights of the Tajik suspects and stick to the principles and norms of international law in their investigations into the massacre. That was especially the case in terms of the presumption of innocence, the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment of detainees.

Critics may find some irony in Tajikistan’s top diplomat lecturing Russia and the world on the human rights of detainees, considering the horrors of what the Tajik regime has long been accused of when it comes to imprisoned opponents.

Muhriddin also used the platform offered by the CIS meeting to condemn the explosion of xenophobia seen in Russia since the attack. The consequences of an “ill-conceived information campaign” were that a “negative perception is being formed toward citizens of Tajikistan and Tajiks”, he added.

Of the 11 men in custody accused of roles in the Crocus City Hall atrocity, 10 are Tajik. The other man is reported to be a Kyrgyz-born Uzbek man who has Russian citizenship.

The attack was Russia’s worst terrorist attack in two decades. An Afghanistan-based affiliate of the Islamic State extremist group has claimed responsibility.