Muslim public figures have announced that they will hold a memorial rally in Nalchik on August 2, 2015, in memory of Muslim journalist and human rights activist Timur Kuashev, who was kidnapped and killed by death squads exactly one year ago. The page of the event with details of its organization was created by activists on Facebook.
Let us recall that Timur Kuashev was a consistent defender of Muslim rights in the Kabardino-Balkar Republic (KBR), where lawlessness of law enforcement agencies has long been a norm. On May 4, 2013, he organized a rally at which victims, in the presence of journalists, recounted numerous cases of unlawful pressure on Muslims by security forces, including beatings and abductions.
From that moment until his murder, Timur was under constant pressure and threats from what are commonly referred to as “death squads” in the Caucasus. On May 21, 2014, he stated that during an unjust detention (where no charges or reasons for his arrest were given) following a march commemorating the 150th anniversary of the end of the Caucasus War, he received threats if he continued his activism. He formally addressed the Prosecutor of the KBR, the Head of the Investigation Department of the Investigative Committee of Russia for the KBR, the Minister of Internal Affairs for the KBR, Amnesty International, the Human Rights Center of the KBR, as well as the Memorial Human Rights Center, expressing his fear for his life. The statement included specific and numerous threats from commentators who provide information to support the activities of the death squads, explicitly stating that Kuashev would be killed if he didn’t cease his activities.
Timur Kuashev was killed shortly after returning from Moscow, where he had recently lived, to Nalchik, where his parents live. On July 31, 2014, he disappeared and stopped communicating, and on August 1, 2014, his body was found with an injection mark that likely caused his death. Due to the public outcry, the investigation of the case was allegedly taken under the control of the Prosecutor’s Office of Kabardino-Balkaria, as stated in a letter from the Deputy Prosecutor of the KBR, Artur Makhov, to the Chairman of the Presidential Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights.
Of course, over the course of the year, not only has the Kuashev case remained unsolved, but there has been no progress at all. No one who objectively assessed the situation in the republic, the Caucasus, and Russia as a whole doubted that it could be otherwise. For example, another Muslim human rights activist, Larisa Dorogova, who investigated cases of extrajudicial killings, abductions, and torture of Muslims, was forced to leave the republic. Numerous threats against her personally did not deter her, but after her son was kidnapped and the perpetrators demanded that she stop her activities, she was forced to leave her homeland.
The memorial action for Timur Kuashev on August 2, 2015 in Nalchik aims to demonstrate that the Muslim community has not forgotten the victims of anti-Islamic terror, nor their executioners. As for the latter, it should be noted that the action will take place amid ongoing reprisals against young Muslims who are unjustly labeled as “terrorists,” “extremists,” “Wahhabis,” and so on. For example, on July 23, security forces staged a show called “KTO” (counter-terrorism operation) to “neutralize terrorists” allegedly trapped in one of the apartment buildings in Nalchik. The show followed a familiar pattern: “terrorists are surrounded in the house,” “they refused to surrender,” and then they were methodically and cold-bloodedly shot. However, according to the testimonies of the relatives of the boys killed, who were contacted by telephone, no one offered or allowed them to surrender.
This series of bloody reprisals and tragic events serves as a stark illustration of the conditions under which Muslims in the Caucasus live and the policies of the “native” state toward them.