Magamed Abubakarov is an ethnic Chechen who settled as a lawyer in Grozny (Chechnya) in 2004. Abubakarov specifically works on politically sensitive cases.
He has been defending several suspects of high Islamic-political profile since 2007 in Russia’s first mass criminal trial in Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria (a province of the Northern Caucasus region). This mass trial related to the raid of government buildings in Nalchik by a group of armed (Muslim) civilians in October 2005. According to Abubakarov the raid was a reaction to the anti-Islamic repression at that time, but according to the government it was a separatist coup of Muslim terrorists. Amongst his clients is Rasul Kudayev, one of seven Russian nationals to be released from Guantanamo Bay in 2004, imprisoned and subjected to torture in Russia after his return.
Working on the Nalchik case Magamed began receiving threats and in 2011, the human rights organization Memorial he is associated with was forced to pull Magamed from the case for his personal safety. In the same year, Magamed was hit by a car in an ‘accident’, shattering the bones in one of his legs and affecting his nervous system. Abubakarov had to rehabilitate for a year, and still walks with a cane. Authorities refused to investigate the case.
Magamed was already forced to leave Russia temporarily twice. He also stayed in The Hague for three months as part of the Shelter City Initiative, a programme of Justitia et Pax which assists human rights defenders under great pressure.
Three weeks after Magameds return in January 2013, Magamed again received threatens which he reported to the police on the 11th of February. After this one last threat was made. The police have started an investigation but the question remains how serious they will pursue this case. Today Magamed continues to work as a lawyer in Nalchik on criminal cases concerning human rights violations.
In March 2013, L4L organized a letter writing campaign for Abubakarov. Here you can read a few interviews with Magamed in Dutch media (translation by Justitia et Pax).
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