The Topography of Abductions in The North Caucasus
On the 21st of February, 2001, twenty armed and masked military officials stormed the Abdulazizov household in Goity Village, Chechnya. The men arrived in several standard-issue UAZ vehicles and an Armored Personnel Carrier (“APC”) with its number plates obscured by mud. They provided no explanation for their arrival. After conducting an unwarranted house search the men beat Zina Pukhigova and dragged her husband, Salman Abdulazizov, into the APC, driving him to an undisclosed location. The following morning, Zina went to the Urus Martan prosecutor’s office with a request for an official investigation but was sent away without an answer. Later that day she learned that five other men were also abducted in Goity that night. Zina continued to re-open the case for several years, but each time it was dropped due to a lack of evidence. Over the course of her appeals, Zina sent nearly a hundred letters to the authorities, but received only two replies. They were standard documents informing her that the case was being investigated, and that it had been referred back to the law-enforcement officials in Chechnya. The case was finally closed due to a lack of evidence and identifiable suspects. The whereabouts of Salman and the other five men remain unknown.