Makhashev v. Russia

European Court of Human Rights

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Justice Initiative, November 14, 2007
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Racial Abuse and Beating by Police

In 2004, in Nalchik, the capital of the Republic of Kabardino-Balkariya, three brothers were detained and severely beaten, while being subjected to racist insults by city police officers. They were later released without charge. They filed criminal complaints with the local authorities but no action was taken. Racial discrimination by police against Chechens is commonplace across Russia, but it has never been challenged in court. (Keywords: Discrimination - Ill-Treatment)


On the night of November 14-15, 2004, Ibragim and Adam Makhashev were stopped by Russian police officers outside the Forum Concert Hall in Nalchik, Kabardino-Balkaria. A fight had broken out earlier in the night club and Ibragim Makhashev had been stabbed and wounded. Ibragim and Adam were driven to the police station and detained. At the station, the police did not question the brothers, but instead subjected them to repeated beatings and kickings over several hours. The police hit them with rifle butts in the face and vital organs. Throughout the beatings the police shouted racist comments at the brothers and threatened them not to make any complaints. Both Ibragim and Adam Makhashev lost consciousness and bled profusely from their wounds. When their brother Islam Makhashev came to the police station in search of them, he was also detained and beaten.

The police released the three brothers in the middle of the night. Despite the threats not to do so, the brothers immediately went to the City Prosecutor's Office and lodged criminal complaints for the racist violence they had suffered. The following day they were examined by a doctor to document their injuries.

The City Prosecutor's Office conducted a biased and delayed investigation into the complaints filed by the Makhashev brothers. On April 13, 2006, nearly one and a half years after the incident, the Nalchik City Prosecutor's Office closed the investigation and decided not to initiate criminal proceedings against the police officers who had unlawfully detained, tortured, and maltreated the brothers, and who were motivated by discriminatory ethnic hatred. The Makhashev brothers appealed this decision until the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria issued a final order dismissing their appeals on November 3, 2006.

Open Society Justice Initiative Involvement

The Open Society Justice Initiative is acting on behalf of the Makhashev brothers in a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights.


Torture. The Russian authorities' racially-motivated ill-treatment of the Makhashev brothers constituted torture and inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of Article 3 ECHR (torture).

Ineffective Investigation. The lack of investigation into the ill-treatment violates the procedural limb of Article 3 ECHR.

Lack of a Remedy. The lack of an effective remedy violates Article 13 ECHR.

Liberty and Security. The illegal detention violates Article 5 ECHR (liberty and security).

Discrimination. The racist treatment of the Makhashev brothers constitutes unlawful discrimination in breach of Article 14 ECHR (discrimination) in conjunction with Article 3, Article 5, and Article 13.


November 14-15, 2004. Makhashev brothers are detained and tortured by Russian police.
April 13, 2006. Local prosecutor's office closes the investigation into the police abuse.
November 3, 2006. The Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria dismisses the brothers' final appeal.
April 30, 2007. Initial complaint letter was filed at the ECHR.
November 14, 2007. Application filed with the European Court of Human Rights.
November 26, 2009. Case is communicated to the Russian government.


The case is currently pending before the European Court of Human Rights.