On September 19, Georgia extradited to Russia an ethnically Chechen citizen of the Russian Federation, Ramzan Akhiadov, who was put on Interpol’s wanted list on charges of terrorism, including cooperation with the Islamic State. Georgian Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani has already confirmed the reports.
Akhiadov, 39, arrived in Georgia from Turkey and lived in Kutaisi since 2017, together with his wife and four underage children. In December 2018, patrol police detained him for incorrect parking, but later it appeared that he was wanted by Russia on charges of supporting terrorist activities and participating in illegal armed groups.
According to the Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC), Akhiadov and his defense lawyer were claiming that if extradited, Akhiadov would be subject to torture and inhuman treatment. They argued that his extradition was inadmissible on these grounds. Akhiadov also applied for asylum as a refugee in Georgia, but this asylum request was rejected.
Commenting on Akhiadov’s extradition, Tea Tsulukiani told reporters on September 19 that fighting against terrorism and international crime is “a priority” for Georgia. She explained that Georgia agreed on Akhiadov’s extradition after it received written guarantees from the Russian prosecutor’s office that he would not be subject to torture or ill-treatment and that he would be afforded “humane conditions” while in detention.
Extradition of ethnically Chechen citizen to Russia triggered strong criticism from opposition and civil society organizations.
Civil rights activists held a rally outside the Justice Ministry today to protest Akhiadov’s extradition. MP Elene Khoshtaria of the opposition European Georgia party also joined the rally, pointing to mass violations of human rights in Russia and the facts of treating ethnic Chechens with “special cruelty.”
“Instead of telling the entire world how Russia violates human rights, including on our occupation line, they [Georgian government] are saying that these rights are not violated and therefore they extradited him,” Khoshtaria said.
She also criticized the Georgian government accepting the Russian prosecution’s pledge. “They [Georgian government] openly say that we are the country, which trusts Russian prosecutor’s office. Not a single normal person in the world trusts the prosecutor’s office of Russia,” she added.
In a statement released on September 20, EMC noted that absence of risks related to Akhiadov’s inhuman treatment was not “adequately substantiated” in the Georgian government’s legal acts.
EMC said that inadequate assessment by Georgia of all risks related to torture and inhuman treatment of Ramzan Akhiadov as well as his immediate extradition which precluded the use of international protection mechanisms “violates an absolute right to freedom from torture and inhuman treatment.”
EMC also explained that instead of extraditing him to Russia, Georgia itself could have launched criminal proceedings against Akhiadov if it had reasonable grounds to suspect that the man was involved in terrorism crimes.