CASE OF TAZUYEVA AND OTHERS v. RUSSIA (European Court of Human Rights)

THIRD SECTION

CASE OF TAZUYEVA AND OTHERS v. RUSSIA
(Applications nos. 36962/09 and 9 others – see list appended)

JUDGMENT
STRASBOURG
22 January 2019

This judgment is final but it may be subject to editorial revision.

In the case of Tazuyeva and Others v. Russia,

The European Court of Human Rights (Third Section), sitting as a Committee composed of:

Branko Lubarda, President,
Pere Pastor Vilanova,
Georgios A. Serghides, judges,
and Stephen Phillips, Section Registrar,

Having deliberated in private on 18 December 2018,

Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:

PROCEDURE

1.  The case originated in ten applications against Russia lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) on various dates indicated in the appended table.

2.  The applications were communicated to the Russian Government (“the Government”).

3.  The Government did not object to the examination of the applications by a Committee.

THE FACTS

I.  THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE

4.  The applicants are Russian nationals who, at the material time, lived in the Chechen Republic. Their personal details are set out in the appended table. They are close relatives of individuals who disappeared after allegedly being unlawfully detained by servicemen during special operations. The events concerned took place in areas under the full control of the Russian federal forces. The applicants have not seen their missing relatives since the alleged arrests.

5.  The applicants reported the abductions to law‑enforcement bodies, and official investigations were opened. The proceedings were repeatedly suspended and resumed, and have remained pending for several years without any tangible results being achieved. The applicants lodged requests for information and assistance in the search for their relatives with the investigating authorities and various law-enforcement bodies. Their requests received either only formal responses or none at all. The perpetrators have not been identified by the investigating bodies.

6.  Summaries of the facts in respect of each application are set out below. Each account is based on statements provided by the applicants and their relatives and/or neighbours to both the Court and the domestic investigative authorities. The Government did not dispute the principal facts of the cases, as presented by the applicants, but questioned the involvement of servicemen in the events.

A.  Tazuyeva v. Russia (no. 36962/09)

7.  The applicant is the mother of Mr Alik Tazuyev (in the documents submitted also spelled as Tuzayev), who was born in 1985.

1.  Abduction of Mr Alik Tazuyev

8.  At the material time Mr Alik Tazuyev was staying at his grandmother’s house in the village of Sernovodsk (also spelled as Sernovodskoye or Sernovodskaya).

9.  At about 2 a.m. on 15 July 2002 a group of armed men in camouflage uniforms arrived in three military UAZ vehicles, two Niva cars and one VAZ car, all without registration plates. Most of the men were unmasked and spoke unaccented Russian; those of them who were in balaclavas were apparently of Chechen origin. The men broke into the house of Mr Alik Tazuyev’s grandmother,forced Mr Tazuyev into one of their vehicles and drove off. Having passed unhindered through several checkpoints on the way, they drove to the Nadterechniy district department of the Federal Security Service (“the FSB”) located in the neighbouring village of Znamenskoye. Relatives of the abducted persons followed the abductors and found special pass no. 168 for an UAZ-3962 vehicle with the registration number C688XX95RUS (in some documents B688XX95RUS), which had been issued on 1 May 2002 by the commander of the United Group Alignment in the North Caucasus Region .

10.  According to the applicant, that night several other residents of Sernovodsk were abducted under similar circumstances.

2.  Official investigation into the abduction

11.  On 17 July 2002 the Achkhoy-Martan inter-district prosecutor opened criminal case no. 63049 under Article 126 of the Criminal Code (“the CC”) (abduction) into the abduction of Mr Alik Tazuyev and the other abducted residents of Sernovodsk.

12.  On 20 July 2002 the applicant was granted victim status in the case.

13.  Over the following months the investigators sent requests to law‑enforcement authorities in Chechnya, including the FSB,for them to check if the abducted persons had been taken intotheir custody. The replies were all in the negative.

14.  On 17 September 2002 the investigation in the case was suspended.

15.  On 25 June 2003 in reply to the applicant’s request the investigators informed her that the criminal proceedings had been suspended but that operational search activities continued.

16.  On 22 January 2004 a lawyer, who represented relatives of one of the abducted persons,lodged a complaint to the prosecutor of Chechnya,allegingthe ineffectiveness of the investigation. He also submitted that the relatives of the abducted persons had followed the abductors and had found the special pass issued by the commander of the United Group Alignment forces. A copy of that pass was attached to the complaint.

17.  On 11 March 2004 the investigators resumed the proceedings and several days later added the special pass to the evidence in the case file.

18.  Between 30 March and 10 April 2004 the investigators questioned several relatives of the abducted persons and their fellow village residents, who confirmed the relatives’account of the events.

19.  On 11 April 2004 the investigation was suspended.

20.  A copy of the criminal file submitted by the Government lacked one volume, the one covering the investigation between mid-2004 and early 2012.

21.  According to the documents submitted by the applicant, the investigation was resumed on 21 June 2007, andthen suspended on 31 July 2007.

22.  According to the documents submitted by the Government, on 23 January 2012 the investigators resumed the proceedings again. By February 2012 they hadestablished that the UAZ vehicle with a special pass had belonged to a private person, Mr A.E., who denied any involvement in the abduction.

23.  On 16 February 2012 the investigators obtained the applicant’s DNA sample for comparison with samples obtained from unidentified bodies, but to no avail.

24.  Subsequently, the investigation was suspended on 23 February and 25 September 2012, 22 August and 12 September 2013, and 16 January and 14 February 2014; it was resumed on 20 September 2012, 5 August, 11 September and 23 December 2013, and13 February 2014 respectively.

25.  In the meantime, on 23 January 2014 the investigators established that the military forces based in Khankala had been provided with vehicle registration plate K688XX95RUS.

26.  On 13 February 2014 the investigators found that they had wrongly identified Mr A.E. as the owner of the UAZ vehicle, and that his car was of a different series.

27.  It appears that the proceedings are still pending.

3.  Proceedings against the investigators

28.  On an unspecified date the applicant complained of the investigators’ inaction to the Achkhoy-Martan District Court, which on 26 June 2007 dismissed her complaint as unsubstantiated.

B.  Kulishova v. Russia (no. 37430/09)

29.  The applicant is the mother of Mr Dmitry Kulishov, who was born in 1980.

1.  Abduction of Mr Dmitry Kulishov

30.  At about 11 p.m. on 14 March 2005 a group of armed men in camouflage uniforms and balaclavas arrived in two grey VAZ vehicles and broke into Mr M.Ts.’s flat in Grozny, where Mr Dmitry Kulishov was temporarily residing. They took him away to an unknown destination.

2.  Official investigation into the abduction

31.  On 15 March 2005 Mr M.Ts. lodged a complaint with the local policeabout Mr Dmitry Kulishov’s abduction. The applicant joined that complaint.

32.  On 26 March 206 the Leninskiy district prosecutor in Grozny declined to open a criminal case.

33.  On 9 April 2005 the above decision was overruled by a supervising authority. Two days later the prosecutor opened criminal case no. 40071 under Article 126 of the CC (abduction).

34.  On 15 March 2005 the investigators questioned Mr M.Ts., who submitted that in the evening of 14 March 2005 his neighbours, Mr S. and Mr V., had visited his flat, where he lived with Mr Dmitry Kulishov. At about 10.55 p.m. he had left the flat to buy some bread in a nearby shop. On his way back he saw five men in camouflage uniforms and balaclavas. Armed with machineguns,they stood at the entrance to his block of flats. Mr M.Ts. tried to enter the block of flats, but the men did not let him in. They spoke Russian with a Chechen accent. Sometime later the armed men left the flat with Mr Dmitry Kulishov. They put him in a grey VAZ vehicle without registration plates and drove him away.

35.  On 16 April 2005 the applicant was granted victim status.

36.  On 14 June 2005 the investigators questioned Mr V. and Mr S. They confirmed the account of the events given by Mr M.Ts. Mr V. also submitted that he had heard that Mr Dmitry Kulishovhad been taken to the Chechen Ministry of the Interior and then transported to an unknown destination.

37.  On 11 July 2005 the investigation was suspended after it had failedestablish the identity of the perpetrators. On 13 February 2006 that decision was overruled by the supervising prosecutor and the investigation was resumed. One month later it was suspended again.

38.  Subsequently, the proceedings were resumed on 21 August 2006, 12 February 2007, 6 May 2009, 9 July and 21 September 2009, 20 December 2011, 4 June 2012, and 9 October and 12 December 2013; they were suspended on 25 August 2006, 16 March 2007, 5 June and 21 October 2009, 19 January and 4 July 2012, and 11 November 2013, respectively.

39.  It appears that the investigation is still pending.

3.  Proceedings against the investigators

40.  On an unspecified date, the applicant lodged a complaint with the Leninskiy District Court in Grozny, alleging that the investigation had been ineffective and that the investigators had failed to take basic steps. She also complained about the investigators’ decision to suspend the proceedings.

41.  On 6 December 2008 the court ruled in the applicant’s favour. It ordered the investigating authorities to resume the proceedings and take necessary investigative measures.

C.  Soltagirayeva and Others v. Russia (no. 43724/09)

42.  The first applicant is the mother of Mr Askhab Soltagirayev, who was born in 1973. The second applicant is his wife. The third, fourth, and fifth applicants are his children.

1.  Abduction of Mr Askhab Soltagirayev

43.  In 2001 Mr Askhab Soltagirayev was pardoned under a Government amnesty aimed at former members of illegal armed groups. In 2000 his brother, Mr Alikhan Soltagirayev, had allegedly been killed by Russian servicemen.

44.  At the material time the applicants, save for the first applicant, resided together in the town of Gudermes. On 12 April 2002 Russian servicemen conducted a special operation in the area, as a result of which many men were arrested.

45.  At around 3 a.m. on that date a group of ten to fifteen servicemen in camouflage uniforms (some in balaclavas), armed with grenades and machineguns broke into the applicants’ house. The unmasked intruders were of Slavic appearance and spoke unaccented Russian, while the masked ones spoke Chechen. Some of them searched the house, while the others seized Mr Askhab Soltagirayev and his passport, took him outside and put him in a grey UAZ minivan. Then the servicemen departed in the direction of the town centre, accompanied by another grey UAZ car and an Ural lorry.

46.  Later in the morning the applicants and their relatives went to the Gudermes District Department of the Interior (“the ROVD”), where many people were waiting for the release of relatives who had been detained on the same day under similar circumstances. At around 10 a.m. one of the arrested men, Mr Askhab from the village of Belorechye (also referred to as Ilaskhan‑Yurt), was released and told the applicants that their relative had been detained in the ROVD along with other men. On the same day two ROVD officers, Mr D.Yasayev and Mr I.Makayev, confirmed that Mr Askhab Soltagirayev had been detained there until at least 2 p.m. and then taken to the premises of a department of the Federal Security Service. The head of the ROVD later informed Mr Askhab Soltagirayev’s uncle that his nephew had not been detained on their premises.

47.  The applicants have not seen Mr Askhab Soltagirayev since his abduction.

2.  Official investigation into the abduction

48.  According to the applicants, despite attempts made by them to persuade the authorities to initiate a criminal investigation into the abduction of 12 April 2002, the Gudermes district prosecutor dissuaded them from lodging an official request. For that reason, their request for an investigation wasofficially registered only on 14 May 2004.

49.  Between 27 and 29 May 2004 the policequestioned the second applicant and her relatives and examined the crime scene. No evidence was collected.

50.  On an unspecified date in May or June 2004one of the police officers reported to his superior that according to the applicants’neighbours,a special operation hadbeen conducted on the day of the abduction.

51.  On 3 June 2004 the Gudermes district prosecutor opened criminal case no. 35035 under Article 126 of the CC (abduction).

52.  Five days later the second applicant was granted victim status and questioned.

53.  In June 2004 the investigators contacted law-enforcement authorities in Chechnya to check whetherMr Askhab Soltagirayev had been arrested. The replies were all in the negative.

54.  In June and July 2004 the investigators questioned the first and second applicants and their six relatives, including Mr Said‑Magomed. They submitted that Mr Askhab Soltagirayev’s detention at the ROVD had been acknowledged by Mr D.Yasayev and Mr I.Makayev.

55.  On 21 June and 16 July 2004 the investigators questionedofficers Mr D.Yasayev and Mr I.Makayev. Both stated that they did not know Mr Askhab Soltagirayev and had neither arrested him nor informed anyone of his arrest.

56.  On 6 August 2004 the deputy head of the ROVD stated that Mr Askhab Soltagirayev had never been detained on their premises.

57.  On 3 August 2004 the investigation was suspended after it had failed to establish the identity of the perpetrators. The second applicant was informed of that decision.

58.  On 13 February 2008 the first applicant asked the investigators to grant her victim status in the case.

59.  On 6 March 2008 the proceedings were resumed and the first applicant’s request was granted. The proceedings were suspended one month later.

60.  On 21 April 2008 the investigation was resumed. In May 2008 the investigators questioned several of Mr Askhab Soltagirayev’s relatives, who reiterated their previous submissions.

61.  Subsequently the proceedings were suspended on 21 May and 11 July 2008, 29 June, and 13 September and 23 December 2009; they wereresumed on 11 June 2008, 5 May, 11 August and 13 November 2009 respectively.

62.  In the meantime, on 20 June 2008 the deputy district prosecutor criticised the investigators for their failure to take basic steps such as confronting the applicants with Mr D. Yasayev and Mr I. Makayev, or establishingwhether other persons had been detained in the ROVD on 12 April 2002.

63.  In August 2008 the investigators replied to the above-mentioned criticism. They submitted that, under the Russian Code of Criminal Procedure, they were under no obligation to conduct a confrontation. As regards persons detained in the ROVD at the time of the abduction, the investigation had not obtained any relevant information. Operational search measures to establish them would be taken.

64.  On 18 March 2009 the first applicant asked the investigators to allow her to study the case file. On 21 March 2009 her request was refused. The applicant lodged an appeal with the Gudermes District Court in Chechnya against the investigators’ refusal (see paragraph 67 below). Before the appeal court delivered its judgment she wasallowed to access the investigation file.

65.  On 30 October 2009 the deputy district prosecutor again criticised the investigators, noting that their failure to carry out confrontations between witnesses, to establish the persons allegedly detained with Mr Askhab Soltagirayev in the ROVD, or to check whetherformer servicemen from the “Vostok” battalion of the Russian Ministry of Defencehad been involved in the abduction.

66.  It appears that the proceedings are still pending.

3.  Proceedings against the investigators

67.  On an unspecified date the first applicant lodged a complaintwith the Gudermes District Court in Chechnya regarding the investigators’ refusal to allow her to access the case file.

68.  On 12 May 2009 the court dismissed the applicant’s complaint, stating that on 6 May 2009 she had already been granted access to the case file.

D.  Tangiyev v. Russia (no. 35816/10)

69.  The applicant is the brother of Mr Anzor Tangiyev, who was born in 1978.

1.  Abduction of Mr Anzor Tangiyev

70.  On 24 May 2000 Mr Anzor Tangiyev stayed overnight in the flat of his neighbour, Mr A.D.,in ablock of flats in Grozny.

71.  At about 4 a.m. on 25 May 2000 about twenty armed men in camouflage uniforms and balaclavas broke into the flat, took both Mr Anzor Tangiyev and Mr A.D. to the courtyard, tied their hands behind their backs, pulled their T-shirts over their heads and laid them on the ground. They then forced Mr A.D. in one of the UAZ vehicles, drove him to an unknown destination and placed him in a basement. Mr A.D. was ill-treated by the abductors for four days to make him confess to membership in illegal armed groups. On the fourth day of his detention Mr A.D. was taken to a different room, where he saw Mr Anzor Tangiyev, who bore signs of ill-treatment, including a broken finger on his right hand. Mr Anzor Tangiyev told the servicemen that Mr A.D. did not participate in illegal armed groups. Then Mr A.D. was taken back to the basement. From a conversation he had overheard between the servicemen andfrom the noise of nearby helicopters Mr A.D. understood that he was being detained at the Khankala military base, the headquarters of the federal military forces located in the suburbs of Grozny.

72.  On 17 June 2000 Mr A.D. was blindfolded and taken in an APC to the centre of Grozny, where he was released in front of the publishing house building.

2.  Official investigation of the abduction

73.  According to the applicant,immediately after the incident Mr Anzor Tangiyev’s mother complained to the military and civilian authorities about the abduction, but the criminal proceedings were not opened.The Government did not dispute that submission.

74.  Between 2003 and 2009 the applicant complained of his brother’s abduction to various authorities.He complained to the Chechen prosecutor’s office, the President of Chechnya, the Russian Prosecutor General, the Russian Ministry of the Interior, and the Russian Presidenton 21 June, 15 July, 4 and 9 August 2003 and 15 January 2004 respectively. It appears that no replies followed.

75.  On 9 March 2010the Shali district investigative committee opened criminal case no. 38001 under Articles 126 (abduction) and 286 (abuse of authority) of the CC.

76.  The Government did not submit a copy of the criminal casefile requested by the Court. From the documents submitted by the applicant, it appears that the investigation proceeded as follows.

77.  On 10 March 2010 Mr Anzor Tangiyev’s mother was granted victim status in the criminal case and questioned. She stated that immediately after the abduction she had contacted the mother of Mr A.D., who had already searched for him. The mother of Mr A.D.had told her that Mr Anzor Tangiyev and Mr A.D. had been detained together.On an unspecified date Mr Anzor Tangiyev’s motherhad met Mr S., who had promised her that she would arrange the release of her son in return for her handing over to Mr Ser. 1,000 United States dollars (USD). Mr Anzor Tangiyev’s mother had collected the money, but before she had been able to transfer it Mr S. had died. According to Mr Anzor Tangiyev’s mother, after the abduction she had lodged complaints about it with various civilian and military authorities (including prosecutors)but no proper investigation had followed.

78.  On 16 and 27 March 2010 the investigators questioned Mr A.D. His statements were similar to the account of the eventsgiven by the applicant in his submissions to the Court. Among other details he noted that some of the abductors had spoken unaccented Russian and that from his neighbors, who had witnessed the abduction,he had learned that the abductors had arrived in UAZ minivans. Mr A.D. alleged that the culprits had belonged to the federal forces and had apprehended him together with Mr Anzor Tangiyev on suspicionof membershipin illegal armed groups. Mr A.D. stated that after his release he had been questioned about the circumstances of the abduction by police officers from the Staropromislovskiy district temporary department of the interior.

79.  On 9 June 2010 the investigators suspended the proceedings after it had failed to establish the identity of the perpetrators. On an unspecified date that decision was overruled, and the investigation was resumed.

80.  On 11 January 2011 the proceedings were suspended again. The applicant was not informed thereof.

81.  On an unspecified date between January and April 2013 the applicant lodged a request with the investigatorsfor them to resume the investigation and grant him victim status in the criminal case. On 15 April 2013 the request was refused asill-founded.

82.  It appears that the investigation is still pending.

E.  Tsakayeva and Others v. Russia (no. 54733/10)

83.  The first applicant is the mother of Mr Timur Tsakayev, who was born in 1976. The second applicant is his grandmother, and the third applicant is his brother.

1.  Abduction of Mr Timur Tsakayev

84.  Mr Timur Tsakayev was a relative of Mr Ramzan Tsakayev, a well‑known Chechen fighter against the Russian federal forces who lived in the village of Alkhan-Yurt. Fearing persecution on that account, Mr Timur Tsakayev and his family moved to Ingushetia in 1999. In order to visit his relatives in Chechnya, he used, again, for fear of persecution,a passport in the name of Mr Islam Khalidov.

85.  In October 2001 Mr Timur Tsakayev went to Alkhan-Yurt to visit his grandmother. At about 3 a.m. on 2 November 2001 the family members were woken up by the noise of two APCs and an Urallorry, which pulled up at their gate. A group of forty to fifty armed servicemen in balaclavas and camouflage uniforms cordoned off the house and searched its premises. Mr Timur Tsakayev showed them his passport, which was in the name of Islam Khalidov. The servicemen took him and his uncle Musa to the backyard and questioned them in unaccented Russian.

86.  Meanwhile, the other servicemen locked Mr Timur Tsakayev’s relatives in the house. An hour later, they letMusa go and put Timur Tsakayev in the Ural lorry, which, according to local residents, already contained other apprehended men with sacks over their heads. The Ural and one of the APCs drove away shortly thereafter. The other APC left later in the morning.

87.  The whereabouts of Mr Timur Tsakayev remain unknown.

2.  Official investigation of the abduction

88.  For several months after Mr Timur Tsakayev’s abduction his relatives complained to various authorities, referring to him by the name of Islam Khalidov. In February 2002 the first applicant disclosed her son’s true identity to the authorities.

89.  On 3 August 2003 Mr Timur Tsakayev’s aunt asked the Urus‑Martan district prosecutor to open a criminal case into his abduction. On the same day the investigators questioned her and examined the crime scene. No evidence was collected.

90.  On 5 October 2003 the Urus-Martan district prosecutor opened criminal case no. 34095 under Article 126 of the CC (abduction).

91.  After the opening of the criminal proceedings the investigators requested various law-enforcement authorities to inform them of whether they had arrested or detained Timur Tsakayev. The replies received were in the negative.

92.  On 5 December 2003 the investigation was suspended after it had failed to establish the identity of the perpetrators.

93.  On 1 January 2004 the investigation was resumed, and one month later suspended again.

94.  The Government did not submit a copy of the case-file documents concerning the subsequent developments in the proceedings. According to the applicants, the proceedings were resumed on 25 March 2006, 12 April 2007, and 10 February 2010 and suspended on 25 April 2006 and 16 May 2007 respectively.

95.  In the meantime, on 9 June 2008 the first applicant asked the investigators to grant her victim status, but to no avail.

96.  On 26 March and 19 May 2009 the applicant repeated her request for victim status. She also asked the investigators to grant her access to the case‑file documents.

97.  On 10 February 2010 the first applicant was granted victim status, and on 27 May 2010 she was provided with copies of documents from the investigation file.

98.  In 2012 the Government submitted to the Court an update on the criminal proceedings; according that update the investigation had been resumed on 12 December 2011.

99.  On 30 December 2011 the investigators questioned a former head of the Alkhan-Yurt municipal administration, who stated that Mr Timur Tsakayev had been involved in an illegal armed group. At that time (the year 2001), several authorities – including the FSB, the Main Intelligence Directorate (ГлавноеРазведывательноеУправление), the federal military forces and the police – conducted arrests of the members of that group. He also stated that illegal armed groups also moved around in the vicinity of the village.

100.  On 31 January 2012 the investigators asked the FSB, the Federal Armed forces and the Ministry of the Interior whether special operations had been conducted in Alkhan-Yurt in 2002. No relevant information was provided.

101.  On 3 February 2012 the first applicant’s DNA was compared with DNA samples taken from unidentified corpses, but no match was found.

102.  It appears that the proceedings are still pending.

F.  Bachakovy v. Russia (no. 24748/11)

103.  The applicants are three sisters of Mr Aslan Bachakov, who was born in 1974.

1.  Abduction of Mr Aslan Bachakov

104.  On 9 October 2001 Russian military forces in Chechnya conducted a special operation in the town of Argun. It was cordoned off and surrounded by military vehicles.

105.  At about 8 a.m. a group of armed servicemen in balaclavas and camouflage uniforms arrived at the applicants’ house in an APC bearing the identification number 023, two UAZ vehicles and one VAZ vehicles. Prior to the incident, the APC had been seen on the premises of the Argun military commander’s office.

106.  The servicemen threatened the applicants with firearms, searched the premises and detained Mr Aslan Bachakov. One of them, having introduced himself as an officer from the military commander’s office, assured the applicants that their brother would be questioned and then released. Thereafter, the men forced Mr Bachakov into one of the UAZ vehicles and drove off to an unknown destination.

107.  The whereabouts of Mr Aslan Bachakov remain unknown. His abduction took place in the presence of several witnesses, including the applicants and their neighbours.

2.  The applicants’ search for Mr Aslan Bachakov and the ensuing criminal investigation

108.  Immediately after the events, the applicants went to the Argun military commander’s office, where an unidentified officer confirmed Mr Bachakov’s detention on their premises. However, in the course of the applicants’ subsequent visits to the office, the serviceman denied it and refused to disclose information about his whereabouts.

109.  On the same date, 9 October 2001, the applicants formally informed the authorities of the abduction and requested that a criminal case into the incident be opened.

110.  On 1 March 2002 the Argun inter-district prosecutor opened criminal case no. 78026 under Article 126 of the CC (abduction).

111.  On 7 March 2002 the first applicant was granted victim status in the criminal proceedings.

112.  On 10 March 2002 the Argun Department of the Ministry of the Interior (the Argun town police) provided the investigators with a statement that between 7 and 10 October 2001 a special sweeping-up operation had been conducted in the town. Several military vehicles, including two APCs,had been involved in that operation. Shortly after the end of the operation, another town resident, Mr Kh.U., complained that on 9 October 2001 armed men in camouflage uniform had abducted Mr A.B. and driven him off to an unknown destination. The Argun town police had no information about Mr Aslan Bachakov’s apprehension.

113.  On 1 May 2002 the investigation was suspended after it had failed to establish the identity of the perpetrators.

114.  On 10 April 2003 the first applicant asked the investigators to resume the proceedings. Nine days later the proceedings were resumed.

115.  On 16 May 2003 the investigators questioned Mr L.S., who was the neighbour of Mr Bachakov. He confirmed that on the morning of 9 October 2001 a sweeping-up operation had been carried out by servicemen and police officers in APCs. Immediately after the APCs’ departure at the end of the operation, several UAZ vehicles and a Zhiguli car had arrived at Mr Bachakov’s house. Armed men in camouflage uniform had forced him into a vehicle and taken him away to an unknown destination. Later that day Mr L.S., Mr Aslan Bachakov’s wife and the applicants had gone to the Argun military commander’s office. They had been told that the military authorities had not arrested Mr Aslan Bachakov.

116.  On 19 May 2003 the investigators suspended the proceedings. The first applicant was informed of that decision.

117.  On 22 March 2005 the Argun town prosecutor examined the investigation file and concluded that Mr Aslan Bachakov had most probably been abducted by an illegal armed group. He also noted several shortcomings on the part of the investigators, including the fact that they had sent no information requests to the law-enforcement authorities.

118.  On 20 April 2009 the first applicant asked a member of the Chechen Parliament for help in the search for her brother. That request was forwarded to the investigators. By a letter dated 18 May 2009 the investigators informed her that the proceedings had been suspended but that operational search measures were ongoing.

119.  On 7 October 2010 the proceedings were resumed.

120.  On 28 October 2010 the investigators obtained a sample of the first applicant’s DNAfor comparison with DNA taken from unidentified remains; the results of that comparison remain unknown.

121.  In November 2010 the investigators questioned several witnesses to the events, who mainly confirmed the account of the events submitted by the applicants, and examined the crime scene. No evidence from Mr Aslan Bachakov’s house was collected.

122.  On 26 November 2010 the proceedings were suspended. Subsequently, they were resumed on 21 June and 5 October 2011, 27 January and 8 May 2014; and then suspended again on 21 July and 6 October 2011 and 27 February and 8 June 2014 respectively.

123.  It appears that the proceedings are still pending.

3.  Proceedings against the investigators

124.  On 23 September 2010 the first applicant lodged a complaint with the Shali Town Court in Chechnya, alleging that the investigators had failed to take basic steps and had prematurely suspended the proceedings.

125.  On 18 October 2010 the court dismissed the complaint, having found that on 7 October 2010 the proceedings had been resumed. On 8 December 2010 the Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic upheld that decision on appeal.

G.  Osmayevy v. Russia (no. 29826/11)

126.  The applicants are close relatives of Mr Olkhazur Osmayev, who was born in 1971. The first applicant was his father, who died on 12 June 2017. The second applicant is his mother. The third and fourth applicants are his brothers.

1.  Abduction of Mr Olkhazur Osmayev

127.  At about 1 a.m. on 20 April 2002 about fifteen servicemen in camouflage uniforms and balaclavas armed with machineguns broke into the applicants’ house in the village of Mesker, ordered the men to go out to the courtyard and locked the women and children in the house. After searching the premises, the servicemen handcuffed Mr Olkhazur Osmayev and his two brothers (the third and fourth applicants) pulled their jackets over their heads and put them in a car waiting in the street. Then they took the three men first to the Shali district military commander’s office and then the Shali ROVD, where they were questioned by a Russian-speaking investigator. A few days later the third and fourth applicants were released. As for Mr Olkhazur Osmayev, the applicants have had no news of him since the above-mentioned events.

2.  Official investigation of the abduction

128.  On 20 April 2002 the applicants complained of the abduction to the Shali district prosecutor.

129.  On 24 April 2002 the third and fourth applicants were questioned by the police. Their statements were similar to those submitted by them to the Court.

130.  On 26 April 2002 the Shali district prosecutor opened criminal case no. 59097 under Article 126 of the CC (abduction).

131.  In May 2002 the investigators sent requests concerning Mr Osmayev’s whereabouts to various authorities, including the Shali military commander, the FSB and the police stations in the Shali district.

132.  On 26 June 2002 the investigation was suspended after it had failed to establish the identity of the perpetrators.

133.  On 29 May 2003 the supervising prosecutor overruled the decision to suspend the investigation and ordered the proceedings be resumed.

134.  On 5 June 2003 the second applicant was granted victim status in the criminal case.

135.  On 29 June 2003 the investigation was suspended again.

136.  On 19 July 2003 the Department of the Federal Security Service of the Chechen Republic (“the Chechen FSB”) in the Shali district of Chechnya confirmed at the investigators’ request that the third and fourth applicants had been arrested between 10.20 p.m. and 11.05 p.m. on 20 April 2002. The arrest had been carried out by Major K., who had left the Chechen Republic and could therefore not be questioned.

137.  On an unspecified date in 2005 the second applicant contacted the Chechen Parliament, seeking its assistance in the search for her son. On 18 July 2005 her letter was forwarded to the Chechnya Prosecutor; on 20 June 2005 it was forwarded onwards to the Shali district prosecutor. It is not clear whether a reply followed.

138.  On 27 February 2006 the second applicant asked the Shali district prosecutor to expedite the investigation into Mr Osmayev’s abduction. On 14 March 2006 the prosecutor informed her that the proceedings had been suspended but that the search was still in progress.

139.  On 3 March 2008 the NGO Materi Chechni on the applicants’ behalf asked the head of the Chechen Parliament by letter to assist in the search for Mr Osmayev. The letter was forwarded to the investigators, who replied on 17 April 2008 that operational search activities in respect of the case were ongoing.

140.  On 18 May 2009 the second applicant repeated the request to the head of the Chechen Parliament. On 21 June 2009 she received a reply similar to that of 17 April 2008.

141.  On 22 March 2010 the applicants requested that the investigation be resumed and that they be allowed to access the investigation file.

142.  On 18 May 2010 the investigators replied that the criminal case had been transferred to the Main Investigations Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation in the South Federal Circuit and that the applicants would be able to access the file once it had been returned.

143.  On 23 June 2010 the deputy Shali prosecutor noted numerous shortcomings in the investigation; two days later he gave instructions to the investigators comprising a list of thirty nine measures to be taken.

144.  On 28 June 2010 the investigation was resumed. On 7 June 2010 the investigators asked the Chechen FSB to send them a copy of the criminal case file related to the arrest of the third and fourth applicants on 20 April 2002. On 24 July 2010 the FSB replied that the case file had been sent to the Chechnya Prosecutor in 2003. The investigators searched for that file in the archives, but to no avail.

145.  In July 2010 the investigators questioned two brothers, Mr R.S. and Mr Sh.R. Both of them had been apprehended in Mesker on the night of 19‑20 April 2002 and had been put in an UAZ vehicle, together with three other detainees. On the morning of 20 April 2002 the brothers had been taken to the Shali police station, questioned and subsequently released.

146.  On 28 July 2010 the proceeding were suspended. It appears that they are still pending.

3.  Proceedings against the investigators

147.  On 15 June 2010 the applicants lodged a complaint with the Shali District Court regarding the investigators’ failure to resume the investigation and to take all measures possible to solve the crime.

148.  On 28 June 2010 the Shali District Court dismissed the complaint, referring to the recent decision to resume the proceedings (see paragraph 144 above), which had been taken earlier.

149.  The applicants appealed against that decision to the Chechnya Supreme Court, which dismissed their appeal on 22 December 2010.

H.  Movsarova and Others v. Russia (no. 34256/11)

150.  The first applicant is the mother of Mr Ilyas Movsarov, who was born in 1975. The second applicant is his brother and the third applicant is his wife.

1.  Abduction of Mr Ilyas Movsarov and subsequent events

151.  At the material time Mr Ilyas Movsarov lived with his wife, the third applicant, and their two minor children in Grozny.

152.  On the night of 29-30 April 2002 a group of armed servicemen in camouflage uniforms and balaclavas arrived in three UAZ vehicles at Mr Movsarov’s house. Having broken in, they searched the premises and checked Mr Movsarov’s identity documents. Then they forced him outside, put him in one of the vehicles and drove off to an unknown destination.

153.  The next day the applicants went to the Staropromyslovskiy ROVD in Grozny. The head of the department, Mr B., informed them that their relative had been detained by officers from the Regional Department of the Fight against Organised Crime of the Chechnya Ministry of the Interior (Региональное управление по борьбе с организованной преступностью Министерства внутренних дел Чеченской Республики – “the RUBOP”).

154.  According to the applicants, Mr Ilyas Movsarov was subsequently seen while being held in detention on the premises of the RUBOP. His whereabouts remain unknown.

2.  Official investigation into the abduction

155.  On 30 April 2002 the third applicant complained to the Grozny prosecutor about Mr Movsarov’s abduction.

156.  On the same day the third applicant and three neighbours of Ilyas Movsarov were questioned by investigators. Their statements were consistent with the applicants’ submissions to the Court, as described above. The third applicant noted that the abductors had spoken unaccented Russian.

157.  On 4 June 2002 the Grozny prosecutor’s office opened criminal case no. 54031 under Article 126 of the CC (abduction).

158.  On 21 August 2002 the third applicant was granted victim status in the criminal case and questioned by the investigators. During the interrogation she stated that her husband’s abductors had taken their television set.

159.  On 4 September 2002 the investigation was suspended after it had failed to establish the identity of the perpetrators.

160.  On 11 April 2003 the proceedings were resumed.

161.  On 14 May 2003, having questioned several witnesses, who made statements similar to those of the applicants’, the investigators suspended the proceedings.

162.  On an unspecified date between 2007 and 2008 a relative of Mr Movsarov (apparently his daughter) asked the Chechen President to assist in the search for her father. By a letter dated 30 January 2008 she was informed that the proceedings had been suspended, but that operational search activitieswere still ongoing.

163.  On 6 June 2009 the investigators resumed the proceedings and sent a number of requests to various authorities, including law-enforcement bodies, concerning Mr Movsarov’s whereabouts, but no positive replies were received.

164.  On 4 July 2010 the first applicant was granted victim status in the case. Two days later the proceedings were suspended. They were subsequently resumed on 8 September and 23 December 2010, 8 October and 6 December 2011, and 3 July 2012 and suspended on 8 October 2010, 23 January and 9 October 2011, and 6 January and 3 August 2012, respectively.

165.  In the meantime, on 28 December 2010 the investigators opened criminal case no. 23083 under Article 162 of the CC (robbery) into the misappropriation of the applicants’television set. The third applicant was granted victim status in that case. Shortly thereafter it was joined with case no. 54031.

166.  It appears that the proceedings are still pending.

3.  Proceedings against the investigators

167.  On 30 July 2010 the first applicant lodged a complaint with the Staropromyslovskiy District Court in Grozny, challenging the investigators’ failure to take basic investigative steps.

168.  On 27 September 2010 the court dismissed the complaint on the grounds that the decision to suspend the proceedings had already been overruled. The Chechnya Supreme Court upheld that decision on appeal on 15 December 2010.

I. Moltayevy v. Russia (no. 42835/11)

169.  The application was lodged by the parents of Mr Adlan Moltayev (also spelled as Maltayev), who was born in 1979.

170.  On 25 September 2018 the Court was informed that the father and the mother of Mr Adlan Moltayev had died on 16 January 2017 and 1 April 2018 respectively, and that their daughter, Ms Larisa Khatsiyeva, wished to pursue the application in their stead.

1.  Abduction of Mr Adlan Moltayev

171.  At about 4 a.m. on 11 March 2002 a group of armed men in camouflage uniforms arrived in an APC and an UAZ vehicle at the applicants’ house in the village of Achkhoy-Martan. Speaking unaccented Russian, the men searched the premises, forced Mr Adlan Moltayev outside, put him in the APC and drove off to an unknown destination.

172.  The abduction took place in the presence of several witnesses, including the applicants and their neighbours.

173.  The whereabouts of Mr Adlan Moltayev have remained unknown ever since.

2.  Official investigation into the abduction

174.  On 11 April 2002 Mr Adlan Moltayev’s relatives informed the authorities of his abduction. On the same day the crime scene was examined by investigators from the Achkhoy-Martan inter-district prosecutors’ office. No evidence was collected.

175.  The next day the Achkhoy-Martan prosecutor opened criminal case no. 63027 under Article 127 of the CC (unlawful deprivation of liberty). Several requests were sent to law-enforcement authorities in order to establish whether Mr Adlan Moltayev had been arrested and placed in custody. The replies received were all in the negative.

176.  In April 2002 the investigators questioned several witnesses; the copies of their statements furnished by the Government to the Court were illegible.

177.  On 14 April 2002 the first applicant was granted victim status in the criminal case and questioned by the investigators. Her account of the events was similar to those submitted by the applicants to the Court.

178.  On 12 June 2002 the investigators suspended the proceedings after it had failed to establish the identity of the perpetrators.

179.  Between 2003 and 2007 the second applicant lodged a number of requests with various authoritiesfor them to assist in the investigation and in the search for her son: on 16 July 2003 she contacted the Chechnya Prosecutor; on 16 February 2004 she contacted the Russian President; on 24 January 2005 she contacted the Chechen President; on 29 June 2005 she contacted the Russian State Duma; on 3 February 2006 she contacted the Chechen President and the Chechen Government; and on 3 August 2007 she contacted the Achkhoy-Martan prosecutor. Each request was forwarded to the investigators, who replied that the proceedings had been suspended but that operational search measures were being undertaken.

180.  On 17 June 2008, the proceedings were after the supervisors voiced their criticism. Having sent dozens of requests for information concerning the possible participation of Mr Moltayev in illegal armed groups, the investigators suspended the proceedings on 17 July 2008.

181.  On 27 March 2009 the proceedings were resumed again. Three days later the investigators questioned (i) Mr Moltayev’s neighbour, who had witnessed the abduction and who confirmed the account of the events submitted by the applicants, and (ii) the second applicant, who repeated the statements that she had previously given.

182.  On 17 April 2009, at his own request, the first applicant was granted the status of civil claimant in the criminal case.

183.  On 30 April 2009 the investigators suspended the proceedings and on 3 March 2010 resumed them. On the same date the second applicant was granted victim status. The next day the proceedings were suspended again.

184.  On 18 January 2011 the first applicant lodged a request to be allowed to access the case file. His request was dismissed on 20 January 2011. Subsequently he lodged a complaint with the Urus‑Martan Town Court in Chechnya against the investigators on that account (see paragraph 188below).

185.  It appears that the investigation is still pending.

3.  Proceedings against the investigators

186.  On 15 March 2010 the applicants complained to the Achkhoy‑Martan District Court in Chechnya. They alleged that the instigators had not taken all necessary measures to investigate the incident. The court allowed the complaint in part on 12 April 2010.

187.  On 29 September 2010 the applicants again lodged a complaintregarding the investigators’ inaction. The outcome of that complaint remains unknown.

188.  On 1 February 2011 the applicants lodged a complaint with the Urus‑Martan Town Court in Chechnya concerning their lack of access to the case file. On 5 April 2011 their complaint was allowed and the investigators were ordered to grant the applicants full access to the investigation file.

J.  Bashkuyeva and Arsayeva v. Russia (no. 4887/14)

189.  The applicants are the mothers of Mr Bayali (also spelled as Bay‑Ali) Bashkuyev and Mr Umar Arsayev, who were born in 1987 and 1986 respectively.

1.  Abduction of Mr Bayali Bashkuyev and Mr Umar Arsayev

190.  In the early hours of 31 March 2004 a group of armed servicemen in camouflage uniforms arrived at the village of Elistanzhi, Chechnya, in APCs that bore no registration plates. The servicemen spoke unaccented Russian and were of Slavic appearance. Between midnight and 1.15 a.m. on that date they made a forced entry into the applicants’ houses, arrested Mr Bashkuyev and Mr Arsayev, put them into the military vehicles, and drove off to an unknown destination.

191.  The whereabouts of Mr Bashkuyev and Mr Arsayev have remained unknown ever since. Their abduction took place in the presence of the applicants and several neighbours.

2.  Official investigation into the abduction

192.  On 31 March 2004 an officer from the Vedeno police department, after the applicants had lodged a complaint with it, reported to the deputy Vedenskiy district prosecutor the abduction of Mr Bayali Bashkuyev and Mr Umar Arsayev. On the same date the crime scene was examined. No evidence was collected.

193.  On 1 April 2004 the Vedeno district prosecutor opened criminal case no. 43017 under Article 126 of the CC (abduction).

194.  On 8 April 2004 the investigators questioned police officers stationed at road checkpoints along the way to the applicants’ village. According to the copies of their statements furnished by the Government, the road police officers confirmed the passage of two APCs on the night of the abduction.

195.  On 16 July 2004 the applicants were granted victim status in the case and questioned. Their statements were similar to thosesubmitted by them to the Court.

196.  On 1 June 2004 the investigation was suspended after it had failed to establish the identity of the perpetrators.

197.  On 24 July 2007 the investigators’ supervisors overruled as unlawful thedecision to suspend the investigation and ordered the investigation to be resumed. Between July and August 2007 the investigators sent a number of requests to law-enforcement authorities asking whether Mr Bashkuyev and Mr Arsayev had been suspected of criminal activities and arrested on that account. Replies in the negative were given.

198.  On 24 August 2007 the proceedings were suspended; on 21 December 2010 they were resumed.

199.  On 11 and 12 January 2011 the second and then the first applicant were questioned by the investigators. Both applicants submitted that neither Mr Bashkuyev nor Mr Arsayev had participated in or supported illegal armed groups.

200.  On 12 January 2011 the investigators obtained DNA samples from both applicants for comparison with those held in a database of unidentified remains.

201.  Subsequently, the proceedings were suspended on 27 January 2011, 10 September 2012 and 28 November 2013, and resumed on 30 August 2012 and 28 October 2013.

202.  By a letter of 6 March 2017 the investigators informed the applicants that the proceedings had been suspendedbut that operational search measures to establish the identity of the perpetrators continued.

203.  It appears that the investigation is still pending.

3.  Proceedings before domestic courts

204.  On an unspecified date in September 2013 the applicants lodged a complaint with the Vedeno District Court alleging the investigators’ failure to take basic steps to solve the crime and asking that the proceedings be resumed.

205.  On 18 September 2013 the court dismissed the complaint, having found that the investigators had already resumed the criminal investigation. In a separate ruling given on the same date the court pointed to certain procedural flaws in the investigation.

206.  On unspecified dates in 2015 the applicants lodged claims against the Ministry of Finance of Russia seeking compensation for non-pecuniary damage sustained as a result of the abduction.

207.  On 12 May 2015 the court, in decisions adopted separately in respect of each applicant, dismissed the claims as unfounded. On 7 and 16 July 2015 the Chechnya Supreme Court upheld the above decisions on appeal.

208.  According to the applicants, in 2017 the domestic courts declared Mr Umar Arsayev dead.

II.  RELEVANT DOMESTIC LAW AND INTERNATIONAL MATERIALS

209.  For a summary of the relevant domestic law and international and domestic reports on disappearances in Chechnya and Ingushetia, see Aslakhanova and Others v. Russia (nos. 2944/06, 8300/07, 50184/07, 332/08 and 42509/10, §§ 43-59 and §§ 69-84, 18 December 2012).

THE LAW

I.  JOINDER OF THE APPLICATIONS

210.  In accordance with Rule 42 § 1 of the Rules of Court, and given their similar factual and legal background,the Court decides to join the applications.

II.  LOCUS STANDI

211.  The Court notes that the both applicants in Moltayevy v. Russia (no. 42835/1)died after the case had been communicated to the Government, and that their daughter, Ms Larisa Khatsiyeva, expressed her wish to pursue the application in their stead (see paragraph170above). The Government left the issue of Ms Larisa Khatsiyeva’s participation to the Court’s discretion.

212.  The Court normally permits the next of kin to pursue an application, provided they have a legitimate interest, where the original applicant died after lodging the application with the Court (see Murray v. the Netherlands [GC], no.10511/10, § 79, 26 April 2016, and Maylenskiy v. Russia, no. 12646/15, § 27, 4 October 2016; for cases concerning abductions in Chechnya see Sultygov and Others v. Russia, nos. 42575/07 and 11 others, §§ 381-386). Having regard to the subject matter of the application and all the information in its possession, the Court considers that the applicants’ daughter, Ms Larisa Khatsiyeva, has a legitimate interest in pursuing the application and that she thus has the requisite locus standiunder Article 34 of the Convention.

III.  COMPLIANCE WITH THE SIX-MONTH RULE

A.  The parties’ submissions

1.  The Government

213.  In their observations, the Government argued that the applicants had lodged their applications with the Court several years after the abductions of their relatives and either (i) more than six months after the date on which they ought to have become aware of the ineffectiveness of the ensuing investigation, or (ii) more than six months after the most recent decision of the investigators. They also pointed out that the applicants had remained passive and had not maintained contact with the investigating authorities for a significant amount of time. As regards the case ofTangiyev v. Russia (no. 35816/10) the Government questioned whether the applicant had lodged any complaints with the domestic authorities before 2010. They also noted that he had not applied for victim status in the criminal proceedings. According to the Government, all the applications should be declared inadmissible as having been brought “out of time”.

2.  The applicants

214.  The applicants submitted that they had complied with the six‑month rule. They had taken all possible steps within a reasonable time to initiate the search for their missing relatives and assist the authorities in the proceedings. They submitted that there had been no excessive or unexplained delays in lodging their applications with the Court, which had been lodged as soon as they had considered the domestic investigations to have been ineffective. According to them, the armed conflict which was taking place in Chechnya at the material time had led them to believe that investigative delays were inevitable. Owing to their lack of legal knowledge and financial means to hire a lawyer, and in the absence of any domestic provisions for free legal assistance to victims of enforced disappearances, they had been unable to assess the effectiveness of the investigations. It had been only with the passage of time and a lack of information from the investigating authorities that they had begun to doubt the effectiveness of the investigation and had started looking for free legal assistance in order to assess the effectiveness of the proceedings and then, subsequently, to lodge their applications with the Court without undue delay. In the case ofTangiyev v. Russia (no. 35816/10) the applicant stated that Mr Anzor Tangiyev’s mother had contacted the authorities immediately after the abduction of her son but that no criminal case had been opened,despite her and his efforts, until he had lodged his complaint in 2010. The applicant substantiated this assertion by furnishing copies of the relevant documents.

B.  The Court’s assessment

1.  General principles

215.  A summary of the principles concerning compliance with the six‑month rule in disappearance cases may be found in Sultygov and Others,cited above, §§ 369‑74, 9 October 2014.

2.  Application of the principles to the present case

216.  Turning to the circumstances of the cases, the Court notes that in each application the applicants lodged their complaints with the Court within less than ten years of the incidents and the initiation of the related investigations (see Varnava and Others v. Turkey [GC], nos. 16064/90 and 8 others, § 166, ECHR 2009).

217.  It furthermore notes that in each application the applicants informed the authorities about the abductions of their relatives within a reasonable time.

218.  Specifically, the applicants lodged formal complaints shortly after the incidents in the following six cases:Tazuyeva v. Russia (no. 36962/09), Kulishova v. Russia (no. 37430/09);Bachakovy v. Russia (no. 24748/11);Osmayevy v. Russia (no. 29826/11);Movsarova and Others v. Russia (no. 34256/11); and Bashkuyeva and Arsayeva v. Russia (no. 4887/14). In Moltayevy v. Russia (no. 42835/11) the formal complaint was lodged one month after the abduction, which does not appear to be unreasonable, given the circumstances of the case.

219.  Even though in Soltagirayeva and Others v. Russia (no. 43724/09) and Tangiyev v. Russia (no. 35816/10) the applicants delayed lodging their formal complaints about the abductions of their relatives, the Government did not dispute that in those cases the investigative authorities had become aware of the incidents shortly thereafter (see paragraphs 46 and 73 above). In the latter case the Government only questioned the date of the applicant’s initialcomplaint to the domestic authorities, alleging that it had been lodged not earlier than in 2010. However,given that the Government submitted no evidence to support its allegation, the Court has no grounds to doubt the veracity of the applicant’s submissions, which were substantiated by copies of the relevant complaints.

220.  InTsakayeva and Others v. Russia (no. 54733/10) the applicant’s initial complaint broughtafter the incident gave the wrong name of the abducted person (see paragraph88above). The Government did not dispute that his true identity was disclosed in February 2002, that is to say three months later. The Court considers that this delay was regrettable, but not unreasonable, particularly given the fact that the abductedman was a relative of a well-known Chechen fighter against the Russian federal forces, which could explain the applicant’s initial fear of disclosing his real name to the authorities (see paragraph 84 above).

221.  The Court furthermoreobserves that in each of the applications the authorities opened a criminal investigation into the applicants’ complaints of abduction, which was repeatedly suspended and then resumed following criticism from the supervisors. In each case the investigation was still pending when the application was lodged with the Court (see paragraphs 27, 39, 66, 82, 102, 123, 146, 166, 185 and 203above).

222.  The Court also notescertain lulls in the criminal proceedings.The most significant ones took place in Bachakovy v. Russia (no. 24748/11), Osmayevy v. Russia (no. 29826/11), Movsarova and Others v. Russia (no. 34256/11) and Moltayevy v. Russia (no. 42835/11). In those four cases the investigation remained dormant for periods varying from six to seven and a half years (see paragraphs116, 119, 135, 141, 161, 163, 178 and 180above), while the applicants remained active and contacted various authorities in an effort to either expedite the respective investigation or obtain information on progress in the respective proceedings.

223.  In Tazuyeva v. Russia (no. 36962/09), Tangiyev v. Russia (no. 35816/10) and Tsakayeva and Others v. Russia (no. 54733/10) the investigators suspended the proceedings for periods which did not exceed four and half years. Owing to the Government’s failure to submit complete copies of the relevant investigation files (see paragraphs 20, 76 and94above), it is impossible to establish the applicants’ conduct during the time frame in question.

224.  In Kulishova v. Russia (no. 37430/09), Soltagirayeva and Others v. Russia (no. 43724/09) and Bashkuyeva and Arsayeva v. Russia (no. 4887/14) the periods of the investigators’ inactivity were less significant and did not exceed three years and six months. Even though during those periods the applicants did not contact the investigating authorities, they demonstrated an unwavering interest in the search for their missing relatives (see paragraphs 38, 57, 58,196 and 197above).

225.  In assessing the circumstances of the cases, the Court takes into account the factthat the overall timeframe for lodging the applicationsdid not exceed ten years. It also bears in mind the fact that the authorities became aware of the abductions within a reasonable time. The alleged delay in lodging formal complaints invoked by the Government in respect of some of the applications cannot be held against the applicants, as it did not preclude the authorities from launching an inquiry into the applicants’oral requests for the initiation of an investigation, given the seriousness of the matter complained of.

226.  The Court also notes the applicants’ efforts to force a resumption in the dormant proceedings in respect ofBachakovy v. Russia (no. 24748/11), Osmayevy v. Russia (no. 29826/11), Movsarova and Others v. Russia (no. 34256/11) and Moltayevy v. Russia (no. 42835/11). It considers that the absence of important information concerning the applicants’ conduct during the lulls in the proceedings in Tsakayeva and Others v. Russia (no. 54733/10), Tangiyev v. Russia (no. 35816/10) and Tazuyeva v. Russia (no. 36962/09) cannot be held against the applicants, given that it resulted from the Government’s failure to submit copies of the relevant investigation files. Therefore, the Court concludes that the applicants acted diligently and maintained contact with the investigators. Lastly, the Court takes into account the fact that in Kulishova v. Russia (no. 37430/09), Soltagirayeva and Others v. Russia (no. 43724/09) and Bashkuyeva and Arsayeva v. Russia (no. 4887/14) the periods of inactivity were less significant and that the applicants in those casesdemonstrated an active stance in the proceedings as a whole. The Government’s argument that in Tangiyev v. Russia (no. 35816/10) the applicant did not showdue interest in the investigationis rebutted bythe numerous complaints that he lodged with the authorities and his unsuccessful application for victim status in the criminal case (see paragraphs 74 and 81 above).

227.  Given the fact that the investigations are complex and concerned very serious allegations, the Court concludes that it was reasonable for the applicants to wait for developments that could have resolved crucial factual or legal issues (see El-Masri v. the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia [GC], no. 39630/09, § 142, ECHR 2012). The delays in the opening of the criminal cases or the lulls in the proceedings cannot, therefore,be interpreted as constituting a failure on the part of the applicants to comply with the six-month requirement (see Abdulkhadzhiyeva and Abdulkhadzhiyev v. Russia, no. 40001/08, §§ 9, 15 and 67, 4 October 2016, where the delay in lodging a formal complaint amounted to eight months; contrastDoshuyeva and Yusupov v. Russia (dec.), 58055/10, §§ 41-47, 31 May 2016, where the applicants did not contact the investigating authorities for about eight years and three months, even though the investigation was seemingly dormant).

228.  The Court therefore concludes that the investigations in the cases at hand, albeit sporadic, were being conducted during the periods in question and that it is satisfied with the explanations submitted by the applicants(see paragraph 166 above) (see Varnava and Others, cited above).Accordingly, they complied with the six-month rule.

IV.  COMPLIANCE WITH THE EXHAUSTION RULE

A.  The parties’ submissions

1.  Government

229.  The Government argued that it had been open to the applicants to challenge in court any actions or omissions on the part of the investigating authorities orto raise the issue of the effectiveness of the investigation, and to claim compensation for pecuniary damage, but that the applicants inSoltagirayeva and Others v. Russia (no. 43724/09), Tangiyev v. Russia (no. 35816/10) andTsakayeva and Others v. Russia (no. 54733/10) had failed to do so. Accordingly, they had not exhausted the domestic remedies.

2.  The applicants

230.  The applicants stated that lodging complaints against the investigators would not have remedied the shortcomings in the proceedings. They submitted that the only effective remedy – a criminal investigation – had proved to be ineffective.

B.  The Court’s assessment

231.  The Court has already concluded that the ineffective investigation of disappearances that have occurred in Chechnya between 2000 and 2006 constitutes a systemic problem, and that criminal investigations are not an effective remedy in this regard (see Aslakhanova and Others v. Russia, nos. 2944/06, 8300/07, 50184/07, 332/08 and 42509/10, § 217, 18 December 2012).

232.  As regards a civil action to obtain redress for damage sustained through the allegedly illegal acts or unlawful conduct of State agents, the Court has already found in a number of similar cases that this procedure alone cannot be regarded as constituting an effective remedy in the context of claims brought under Article 2 of the Convention (see Avkhadova and Others v. Russia, no. 47215/07, § 76, 14 March 2013, with further references).

233.  In such circumstances, and noting the absence of tangible progress in any of the criminal investigations into the abductions of the applicants’ relatives, the Court concludes that this objection must be dismissed, since the remedy relied on by the Government is not effective in the circumstances (for similar reasoning see Ortsuyeva and Others v. Russia, nos. 3340/08 and 24689/10, § 79, 22 November 2016).

V.  ASSESSMENT OF THE EVIDENCE AND THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE FACTS

A.  The parties’ submissions

1.  The Government

234.  The Government did not contest the essential facts underlying each application, but submitted that the applicants’ allegations were based on mere assumptions, as there was no evidence proving beyond reasonable doubt that State agents had been involved in the alleged abductions, or that the applicants’ relatives were dead.

2.  The applicants

235.  The applicants submitted that it had been established “beyond reasonable doubt” that the men who had taken their relatives had been State agents. In support of that assertion, they referred to evidence contained in their submissions and in the documents from the criminal investigation files disclosed by the Government. They also submitted that they had each made a prima facie case that their relatives had been abducted by State agents, and that the essential facts underlying their complaints had not been challenged by the Government. Given the lack of any news about their relatives for a long time and the life‑threatening nature of unacknowledged detention in Chechnya at the relevant time, they asked the Court to consider their relatives dead.

B.  The Court’s assessment

1.  General principles

236.  The summary of the principles concerning the assessment of evidence and the establishment of facts in disappearance cases and the life‑threatening nature of such incidents may be found in Sultygov and Others(cited above, §§ 393‑96).

2.  Application of the above principles to the present case

237.  Turning to the circumstances of the cases presently before it, and in view of all the material, including the copies of the documents from the relevant criminal case files, as submitted by the parties, the Court finds that the applicants have presented prima facie cases that their relatives were abducted by State agents in the circumstances set out above. The Court notes that each of the abductions took place in areas under State control.

238.  In the case of all of the applications, armed abductors in camouflage uniforms entered the houses or block of flats where the applicants resided.

239.  In Tsakayeva and Others v. Russia (no. 54733/10),Bachakovy v. Russia (no. 24748/11), Moltayevy v. Russia (no. 42835/11)and Bashkuyeva and Arsayeva v. Russia (no. 4887/14) they arrived in APCs(see paragraphs85,105, 171 and 190 above).

240.  In Tazuyeva v. Russia (no. 36962/09),Soltagirayeva and Others v. Russia (no. 43724/09), Tangiyev v. Russia (no. 35816/10) and Movsarova and Others v. Russia (no. 34256/11) they used other forms of military transport – UAZ vehicles or Ural lorries (see paragraphs 9, 45, 71, and 152above).

241.  In Tangiyev v. Russia (no. 35816/10) and Osmayevy v. Russia (no. 29826/11), persons apprehended and detained together with the applicants’ relatives stated that Mr Anzor Tangiyev had been kept on the premises of the Khankala military base, and that Mr Olkhazur Osmayev had been kept in the Shali district commander’s office and then at the Shali ROVD. According to witness evidence in Movsarova and Others v. Russia (no. 34256/11), Mr Ilyas Movsarov was seen in detention on the premisesof the RUBOP (see paragraphs71, 127 and 153 above).

242.  The Court notes that in the cases at hand, the investigating authorities themselves accepted as fact the primary versions of events presented by the applicants and took steps to verify whether State servicemen had indeed been involved therein by sending information requests to the relevant authorities.

243.  In their submission to the Court, the Government did not provide a satisfactory and convincing explanation for the events in question. They have therefore failed to discharge their burden of proof.

244.  Bearing in mind the general principles enumerated above, the Court finds that the applicants’ relatives were taken into custody by State agents during the special operations. Given the lack of any news about them since their detention and its the life‑threatening nature of such incidents in Chechnya at the relevant time, Mr Alik Tazuyev, Mr Dmitry Kulishov, Mr Askhab Soltagirayev, Mr Anzor Tangiyev, Mr Timur Tsakayev, Mr Aslan Bachakov, Mr Olkhazur Osmayev, Mr Ilyas Movsarov, Mr Adlan Moltayev, Mr Bayali Bashkuyev and Mr Umar Arsayev may be presumed dead following their unacknowledged detention.

VI.  ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 2 OF THE CONVENTION

245.  The applicants complained, under Article 2 of the Convention, that their relatives had disappeared after being detained by State agents and that the domestic authorities had failed to carry out effective investigations into the matter. Article 2 reads as follows:

“1. Everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law. No one shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of a sentence of a court following his conviction of a crime for which this penalty is provided by law…”

A.  The parties’ submissions

246.  In Tazuyeva v. Russia (no. 36962/09), Soltagirayeva and Others v. Russia (no. 43724/09), Bachakovy v. Russia (no. 24748/11), Osmayevy v. Russia (no. 29826/11), Movsarova and Others v. Russia (no. 34256/11) and Moltayevy v. Russia (no. 42835/11) the Government contended that Article 2 of the Convention was inapplicable to the applicants’ complaints of abductions, which had to be examined under Article 5 of the Convention. In support of their argument they referred to the case of Kurt v. Turkey, 25 May 1998, §§ 101‑09, Reports of Judgments and Decisions 1998‑III.

247.  In Kulishova v. Russia (no. 37430/09), Tangiyev v. Russia (no. 35816/10) and Tsakayeva and Others v. Russia (no. 54733/10) the Government submitted that the complaints should be dismissed because the applicants had failed to substantiate their allegations of enforced disappearances perpetrated by State servicemen. Furthermore, the Government argued that the domestic investigation had obtained no evidence that the applicants’ relatives had been held under State control or that they had been killed.

248.  InTazuyeva v. Russia (no. 36962/09), Soltagirayeva and Others v. Russia (no. 43724/09), Osmayevy v. Russia (no. 29826/11), Movsarova and Others v. Russia (no. 34256/11), Moltayevy v. Russia (no. 42835/11), Bachakovy v. Russia (no. 24748/11) and Tsakayeva and Others v. Russia (no. 54733/10) the Government submitted that the mere fact that the investigations had not produced any specific results, or had produced only limited ones, did not mean that they had been ineffective. In certain cases the applicants themselves had undermined the prospects of the investigations by failing to lodge formal complaints in due time. The Government submitted that all necessary steps had been taken to comply with the positive obligation under Article 2 of the Convention.

249.  The applicants maintained their complaint, alleging that their relatives had been abducted and intentionally deprived of their lives in circumstances violating Article 2 of the Convention. They furthermore argued that the investigations into the incidents had fallen short of the standards set down in the Convention and national legislation. Lastly, they noted that some of the case files submitted by the Government had not been furnished in their entirety, as had been requested by the Court.

B.  The Court’s assessment

1.  Admissibility

250.  The Court considers, in the light of the parties’ submissions, that the complaints raise serious issues of fact and law under the Convention, the determination of which requires an examination of the merits. The complaints under Article 2 of the Convention must therefore be declared admissible.

2.  Merits

(a)  Alleged violation of the right to life of the applicants’ relatives

251.  The Court observes that it is undisputed by the parties that the whereabouts of the applicants’ relatives remained unaccounted for from the time of their abduction to the lodging of the applications with the Court. The question arises whether, as the Government submit, Article 2 of the Convention is applicable to the applicants’ situations.

252.  The Court has already examined the Government’s objection in similar cases concerning alleged abductions by State agents and dismissed it (see, for example, Sultygov and Others, cited above, §§ 441-42 and Dzhabrailov and Others v. Russia, nos. 8620/09 and 8 others, §§ 317-18, 27 February 2014), Accordingly, the Court finds that Article 2 of the Convention applies and that the Government’s objection in this respect should be rejected.

253.  On the basis of the above, and noting that it has already been found that in all of the applications under examination the applicants’ relatives may be presumed dead following their unacknowledged detention by State agents (see paragraph 244 above), the Court finds, in the absence of any justification put forward by the Government, that the deaths of the applicants’ relatives can be attributed to the State and that there has been a violation of the substantive aspect of Article 2 of the Convention in respect of Mr Alik Tazuyev, Mr Dmitry Kulishov, Mr Askhab Soltagirayev, Mr Anzor Tangiyev, Mr Timur Tsakayev, Mr Aslan Bachakov, Mr Olkhazur Osmayev, Mr Ilyas Movsarov, Mr Adlan Moltayev, Mr Bayali Bashkuyev and Mr Umar Arsayev.

(b)  Alleged inadequacy of the investigations into the abductions

254.  The Court notes that despite its request, the Government failed to submit copies of the investigation files, as requested in Tsakayeva and Others v. Russia (no. 54733/10), Tangiyev v. Russia (no. 35816/10) and Tazuyeva v. Russia (no. 36962/09) (see paragraphs 20, 76 and 94 above). However, considering the volume of the material provided by the applicants, the Court considers that it is not precluded from examining the issues raised in the applications.

255.  The Court has already found that a criminal investigation does not constitute an effective remedy in respect of disappearances which have occurred, in particular, in Chechnya between 1999 and 2006, and that such a situation constitutes a systemic problem under the Convention (see paragraph 231 above). In the case at hand, as in many previous similar cases reviewed by the Court, the investigations have been pending for many years without any significant developments in respect of determining to the identities of the perpetrators or the fate of the applicants’ missing relatives. As for the Government’s argument that the applicantshad undermined the investigations by failing to lodge formal complaints in due time, the Court notes that, firstly, the local authorities became aware of the abductions before the formal complaints were lodged (see paragraphs 48, 73 and 88above) and that they were not precluded from verifying the applicants’ allegations at once. Secondly, the obligation to investigate effectively is one of means and not of results. Even assuming thatacomplaint was lodged belatedly, the authorities were nevertheless under an obligation to conduct a fully-fledged investigation and to take prompt steps to secure the evidence and follow an obvious line of inquiry in order to establish the identity of those responsible(see Mustafa Tunç and Fecire Tunçv. Turkey [GC], no. 24014/05, §§ 173-75, 14 April 2015).

256.  The Court furthermore observes that each set of criminal proceedings has been plagued by a combination of defects similar to those enumerated in the judgment in Aslakhanova and Others, cited above, §§ 123‑25. Each set of proceedings was subjected to several decisions to suspend the investigation, and each such decision was followed by a period of inactivity, which further diminished the prospects of solving the crime in question. No timely and thorough measures have been taken to identify and question the servicemen who could have participated in the abductions.

257.  In the light of the foregoing, the Court finds that the authorities failed to carry out effective criminal investigations into the circumstances of the disappearance and deaths of Mr Alik Tazuyev, Mr Dmitry Kulishov, Mr Askhab Soltagirayev, Mr Anzor Tangiyev, Mr Timur Tsakayev, Mr Aslan Bachakov, Mr Olkhazur Osmayev, Mr Ilyas Movsarov, Mr Adlan Moltayev, Mr Bayali Bashkuyev and Mr Umar Arsayev. Accordingly, there has been a violation of the procedural aspect of Article 2 of the Convention.

VII.  ALLEGED VIOLATIONS OF ARTICLES 3, 5 AND 13 OF THE CONVENTION

258.  The applicants in all the applications except forTazuyeva v. Russia (no. 36962/09) and Kulishova v. Russia (no. 37430/09) complained of a violation of Article 3 of the Convention on account of the mental suffering caused to them by the disappearance of their relatives.

259.  The applicants in all of the applications complained of a violation of Article 5 of the Convention on account of the unlawfulness of their relatives’ detention.

260.  The applicantsin each of the applications also argued that, contrary to Article 13 of the Convention, no domestic remedies had been available to them in respect of the alleged violation of Article 2 of the Convention.

261.  Furthermore, the applicants in Bachakovy v. Russia (no. 24748/11), Movsarova and Others v. Russia (no. 34256/11), Moltayevy v. Russia (no. 42835/11) and Bashkuyeva and Arsayeva v. Russia (no. 4887/14) alleged a lack of effective domestic remedies in respect of their complaints under Article 3 of the Convention.

262.  Lastly, the applicants in Tazuyeva v. Russia (no. 36962/09), Kulishova v. Russia (no. 37430/09), Bachakovy v. Russia (no. 24748/11), Movsarova and Others v. Russia (no. 34256/11), Moltayevy v. Russia (no. 42835/11) and Bashkuyeva and Arsayeva v. Russia (no. 4887/14) alleged a lack of effective domestic remedies in respect of their complaints under Article 5 of the Convention.

263.  The invoked Articles read, in so far as relevant:

Article 3

“No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Article 5

“1. Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be deprived of his liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law:

(c) the lawful arrest or detention of a person effected for the purpose of bringing him before the competent legal authority on reasonable suspicion of having committed an offence or when it is reasonably considered necessary to prevent his committing an offence or fleeing after having done so;

2. Everyone who is arrested shall be informed promptly, in a language which he understands, of the reasons for his arrest and of any charge against him.

3. Everyone arrested or detained in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 1 (c) of this Article shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorised by law to exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release pending trial. Release may be conditioned by guarantees to appear for trial.

4. Everyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings by which the lawfulness of his detention shall be decided speedily by a court and his release ordered if the detention is not lawful.

5. Everyone who has been the victim of arrest or detention in contravention of the provisions of this Article shall have an enforceable right to compensation.”

Article 13

“Everyone whose rights and freedoms as set forth in [the] Convention are violated shall have an effective remedy before a national authority notwithstanding that the violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity.”

A.  The parties’ submissions

264.  The Government contested the applicants’ claims. They alleged, in particular, that the applicants’ mental sufferings had not reached the minimum level of severity required for them to fall within the scope of Article 3 of the Convention, particularly on account of the minor age of certain of the applicants, and that there was no evidence that the applicants’ relatives’ had been arrested by State agents. Lastly, they averred that the domestic legislation – including Articles 124 and 125 of the Russian Code of Criminal Procedure and Article 1069 of the Russian Civil Code – provided the applicants with effective remedies for their complaints.

265.  The applicants maintained their complaints.

B.  The Court’s assessment

1.  Admissibility

266.  The Court notes that these complaints are not manifestly ill‑founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 (a) of the Convention. It furthermore notes that they are not inadmissible on any other grounds. They must therefore be declared admissible.

2.  Merits

267.  The Court has found on many occasions that a situation of enforced disappearance gives rise to a violation of Article 3 of the Convention in respect of the close relatives of the victim, irrespective of their age (see, among many other authorities, Aslakhanova and Others, cited above, § 133, and Dzhabrailov and Others, cited above, §§ 326-27).

268.  Given the above findings regarding the State’s responsibility for the abductions of the applicants’ relatives and the failure to carry out meaningful investigations into the incidents (see paragraphs253-257 above), the Court finds that the applicants in Soltagirayeva and Others v. Russia (no. 43724/09), Tangiyev v. Russia (no. 35816/10), Tsakayeva and Others v. Russia (no. 54733/10), Bachakovy v. Russia (no. 24748/11), Osmayevy v. Russia (no. 29826/11), Movsarova and Others v. Russia (no. 34256/11), Moltayevy v. Russia (no. 42835/11) and Bashkuyeva and Arsayeva v. Russia (no. 4887/14), who are close relatives of the relevant abducted men, must be considered victims of a violation of Article 3 of the Convention on account of the distress and anguish that they suffered, and continue to suffer, as a result of their inability to ascertain the fate of their missing family members and of the manner in which their complaints have been dealt with.

269.  The Court has found on a number of occasions that unacknowledged detention constitutes a complete negation of the guarantees contained in Article 5 of the Convention and discloses a particularly grave violation of its provisions (see Çiçek v. Turkey, no. 25704/94, § 164, 27 February 2001, and Luluyev and Others v. Russia, no. 69480/01, § 122, ECHR 2006-XIII (extracts)). The Court furthermore confirms that since it has been established that the applicants’ relatives were detained by State agents, apparently without any legal grounds or acknowledgement of such detention (see paragraph 244 above), this constitutes a particularly grave violation of the right to liberty and security of persons enshrined in Article 5 of the Convention.

270.  The Court reiterates its findings regarding the general ineffectiveness of criminal investigations in cases such as those under examination. In the absence of the results of a criminal investigation, any other possible remedy becomes inaccessible in practice.

271.  In the light of the above and taking into account the scope of the applicant’s complaints, the Court finds that the applicants in all cases did not have at their disposal an effective domestic remedy for their grievances under Article 2, in breach of Article 13 of the Convention.

272.  In addition, the applicants in Bachakovy v. Russia (no. 24748/11), Movsarova and Others v. Russia (no. 34256/11), Moltayevy v. Russia (no. 42835/11) and Bashkuyeva and Arsayeva v. Russia (no. 4887/14)did not have at their disposal an effective domestic remedy for their grievances under Article 3, in breach of Article 13 of the Convention.

273.  As regards the alleged breach of Article 13, read in conjunction with Article 5 of the Convention, as submitted by the applicants inTazuyeva v. Russia (no. 36962/09), Kulishova v. Russia (no. 37430/09), Bachakovy v. Russia (no. 24748/11), Movsarova and Others v. Russia (no. 34256/11), Moltayevy v. Russia (no. 42835/11) and Bashkuyeva and Arsayeva v. Russia (no. 4887/14), the Court has already stated in similar cases that no separate issue arises in respect of Article 13, read in conjunction with Article 5 of the Convention (see, amongst many examples, Zhebrailova and Others v. Russia, no. 40166/07, § 84, 26 March 2015 and Aliyev and Gadzhiyeva v. Russia, no. 11059/12, § 110, 12 July 2016).

VIII.  APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION

274.  Article 41 of the Convention provides:

“If the Court finds that there has been a violation of the Convention or the Protocols thereto, and if the internal law of the High Contracting Party concerned allows only partial reparation to be made, the Court shall, if necessary, afford just satisfaction to the injured party.”

A.  Damage

1.  Pecuniary damage

275.  The applicants in all of the cases, except forTangiyev v. Russia (no. 35816/10) and Bashkuyeva and Arsayeva v. Russia (no. 4887/14),claimed compensation for the loss of financial support from their respective family breadwinner. They submitted their calculations as follows.

276. The applicants in Kulishova v. Russia (no. 37430/09), Soltagirayeva and Others v. Russia (no. 43724/09), and Tsakayeva and Others v. Russia (no. 54733/10) made their calculations on the basis of the UK Ogden Actuary Tables, using domestic subsistence levels. The applicants in Bachakovy v. Russia (no. 24748/11), Osmayevy v. Russia (no. 29826/11), Movsarova and Others v. Russia (no. 34256/11) and Moltayevy v. Russia (no. 42835/11) relied on the minimum wage rate and its expected increase in the future. Lastly, the applicant in Tazuyeva v. Russia (no. 36962/09) referred tothe average salary that Mr Alik Tanzuyev would have received.

277.  The amounts claimed by the applicants were as follows.

278.  In Tazuyeva v. Russia (no. 36962/09) the applicant claimed 40,000 euros (EUR).

279.  In Kulishova v. Russia (no. 37430/09) the applicant claimed 1,149,366 Russian roubles (RUB – approximately EUR 15,850).

280.  In Soltagirayeva and Others v. Russia (no. 43724/09) the first and the second applicants claimed RUB 1,012,807 (approximately EUR 24,400) each; the third, fourth and fifth applicants claimed RUB 138,599 (approximately EUR 3,340), RUB 103,748 (approximately EUR 2,500) and RUB 126,982 (approximately EUR 3,060), respectively.

281.  In Tsakayeva and Others v. Russia (no. 54733/10) the first applicant claimed RUB 641,923 (approximately EUR 16,590), the second applicant claimed RUB 452,075 (approximately EUR 11,680) and the third applicant claimed RUB 56,036 (approximately EUR 1,450).

282.  In Bachakovy v. Russia (no. 24748/11) the applicants claimed EUR 9,000 jointly.

283.  In Osmayevy v. Russia (no. 29826/11) the applicants claimed EUR 23,501 jointly.

284.  In Movsarova and Others v. Russia (no. 34256/11) the applicants claimed EUR 44,265; this sum included compensation for the loss of the family breadwinner and the cost of the television set allegedly taken by the federal servicemen.

285.  In Moltayevy v. Russia (no. 42835/11) the applicants claimed EUR 21,000 jointly.

286.  The Government stated that the applicants in Tazuyeva v. Russia (no. 36962/09) and Soltagirayeva and Others v. Russia (no. 43724/09)had failed to substantiate the allegation that their disappeared relatives had been the family breadwinners. The Government also noted thatthe UK Ogden Actuary Tables were not applicable to Russia and that it was open for the applicants to apply for a social allowance to cover the loss of the family breadwinner.

287.  In Tsakayeva and Others v. Russia (no. 54733/10) the Government claimed that the issue of pecuniary damage should be solved at the national level as the applicants couldinitiate civil proceedings in order to obtain compensation for pecuniary damage caused by the loss of the family breadwinner.

288.  In Moltayevy v. Russia (no. 42835/11) the Government submitted that no compensation for pecuniary damage should be paid to Ms Larisa Khatsiyeva, because she had not been a victim of the alleged violation.

289.  In the remainder of the cases the Government left the issue to the Court’s discretion.

2.  Non-pecuniary damage

290.  The applicant inTazuyeva v. Russia (no. 36962/09) claimed EUR 500,000.

291.  In Kulishova v. Russia (no. 37430/09) the applicant claimed non‑pecuniary damage in “the amount that the Court considers to be appropriate”.

292.  InSoltagirayeva and Others v. Russia (no. 43724/09)and in Tsakayeva and Others v. Russia (no. 54733/10)the applicants claimed EUR 100,000 in respect of each application.

293.  In Tangiyev v. Russia (no. 35816/10) the applicant claimed EUR 250,000.

294.  In Bachakovy v. Russia (no. 24748/11) the applicants claimed EUR 80,000 jointly.

295.  In Osmayevy v. Russia (no. 29826/11),Movsarova and Others v. Russia (no. 34256/11) and Moltayevy v. Russia (no. 42835/11) the applicants claimed EUR 70,000.

296.  In Bashkuyeva and Arsayeva v. Russia (no. 4887/14) the applicants claimed “average compensation” in respect of non-pecuniary damage.

297.  The Government submitted in Soltagirayeva and Others v. Russia (no. 43724/09) that the claim was excessive.Referring to Tumayeva and Others v. Russia, no. 9960/05, 16 December 2010 and Mutsolgova and Others v. Russia, no. 2952/06, 1 April 2010, the Government stated that the Court had awarded the applicants between EUR 2,000 and EUR 5,000 under that head. In the Government’s opinion,the minor applicants should not receive any award,in the light of their age.

298.  In Moltayevy v. Russia (no. 42835/11) the Government submitted that no compensation for non-pecuniary damage should be paid to Ms Larisa Khatsiyeva, because she had not been a victim of the alleged violation.

299.  In the remainder of the cases the Government left the issue to the Court’s discretion.

B.  Costs and expenses

300.  The applicant inTazuyeva v. Russia (no. 36962/09) claimed EUR 3,618 for legal and translation costs and administrative expenses.

301.  InKulishova v. Russia (no. 37430/09) the applicant claimed EUR 1,846 for legal costs and administrative and postal expenses

302.  InSoltagirayeva and Others v. Russia (no. 43724/09) the applicants claimed EUR 4,219 for legal costs and administrative and postal expenses.

303.  In Tangiyev v. Russia (no. 35816/10) the applicant claimed EUR 1,770 for legal costs and administrative and postal expenses. On 29 January 2016, at the applicant’s request, the Court granted him legal aid in the amount of EUR 850.

304.  In Tsakayeva and Others v. Russia (no. 54733/10) the applicants claimed EUR 4,150 for legal costs and administrative and postal expenses.

305.  In Bachakovy v. Russia (no. 24748/11) the applicants claimed EUR 9,790 for legal and translation costs and administrative expenses incurred during their representation at the domestic level and before the Court.

306.  In Osmayevy v. Russia (no. 29826/11) the applicants claimed EUR 8,989 for legal and translation costs and administrative expenses incurred during their representation at the domestic level and before the Court.

307.  In Movsarova and Others v. Russia (no. 34256/11) the applicants claimed EUR 9,598 for legal and translation costs and administrative expenses incurred during their representation at the domestic level and before the Court.

308.  In Moltayevy v. Russia (no. 42835/11) the applicants claimed EUR 8,689 for legal and translation costs and administrative expenses incurred during their representation at the domestic level and before the Court.

309.  The applicants listed above requested the Court that the awards be paid into the bank accounts of their legal representatives.

310.  In Bashkuyeva and Arsayeva v. Russia (no. 4887/14) the applicants did not make any claim under that head.

311.  The Government argued that in Tazuyeva v. Russia (no. 36962/09), Kulishova v. Russia (no. 37430/09), Tsakayeva and Others v. Russia (no. 54733/10) and Soltagirayeva and Others v. Russia (no. 43724/09) the legal expenses had been excessive and unnecessary. In Soltagirayeva and Others v. Russia (no. 43724/09) they also questioned the validity of the contract for legal representation and the authorisation forms submitted by the applicants. They also noted that the translation services invoices did not have stamps confirming that the respectivepayment had been made. In Tsakayeva and Others v. Russia (no. 54733/10) the Government stated that the applicants had failed to submit documents confirming that the amounts claimed had been incurred.

312.  In the remainder of the cases the Government left the issue to the Court’s discretion, noting that the award should be made in accordance with the well-established relevant case-law.

C.  The Court’s assessment

313.  The Court reiterates that there must be a clear causal connection between damages claimed by applicants and a violation of the Convention, and that this may, where appropriate, include compensation in respect of loss of earnings. The Court furthermorehas found that the right to compensation to cover loss of earnings may apply to close relatives of disappeared persons, including spouses, elderly parents and minor children (see, among other authorities, Imakayeva v. Russia, no. 7615/02, § 213, ECHR 2006‑XIII (extracts)).

314.  Wherever the Court finds a violation of the Convention, it may accept that the applicants have suffered non-pecuniary damage which cannot be compensated for solely by the finding of a violation, and make a financial award.

315.  As to costs and expenses, the Court has to establish whether they were actually incurred and whether they were necessary and reasonable as to quantum (see McCann and Others v. the United Kingdom, 27 September 1995, § 220, Series A no. 324).

316.  Having regard to the conclusions and principles set out above, as well asthe parties’ submissions, and the fact that the applicant in Tangiyev v. Russia (no. 35816/10) has benefited from legal aid in the amount of EUR 850, the Court awards the amounts specified in the appended table, plus any tax that may be chargeable to them on those amounts. The awards in respect of costs and expenses are to be paid into the representatives’ bank accounts, as indicated by the applicants.

D.  Default interest

317.  The Court considers it appropriate that the default interest rate should be based on the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank, to which should be added three percentage points.

FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT, UNANIMOUSLY,

1.  Decides to join the applications;

2.  Decides that in the application Moltayevy v. Russia (no. 42835/11) Ms Larisa Khatsiyeva has locus standi in the proceedings before the Court;

3.  Declares the applications admissible;

4.  Holds that there has been a substantive violation of Article 2 of the Convention in respect of the applicants’ relatives Mr Alik Tazuyev, Mr Dmitry Kulishov, Mr Askhab Soltagirayev, Mr Anzor Tangiyev, Mr Timur Tsakayev, Mr Aslan Bachakov, Mr Olkhazur Osmayev, Mr Ilyas Movsarov, Mr Adlan Moltayev, Mr Bayali Bashkuyev and Mr Umar Arsayev;

5.  Holds that there has been a procedural violation of Article 2 of the Convention on account of the failure to investigate effectively the disappearance of the applicants’ relatives;

6.  Holds that there has been a violation of Article 3 of the Convention in respect of the applicants in Soltagirayeva and Others v. Russia (no. 43724/09), Tangiyev v. Russia (no. 35816/10), Tsakayeva and Others v. Russia (no. 54733/10), Bachakovy v. Russia (no. 24748/11), Osmayevy v. Russia (no. 29826/11), Movsarova and Others v. Russia (no. 34256/11), Moltayevy v. Russia (no. 42835/11) and Bashkuyeva and Arsayeva v. Russia (no. 4887/14) on account of the mental suffering caused to them by their relatives’ disappearance and the authorities’ response to their suffering;

7.  Holds that there has been a violation of Article 5 of the Convention in respect of the applicants’ relatives on account of their unlawful detention;

8.  Holds that there has been a violation of Article 13 of the Convention in conjunction with Article 2 of the Convention;

9.  Holds that there has been a violation of Article 13 of the Convention in conjunction with Article 3 of the Convention in respect of Bachakovy v. Russia (no. 24748/11), Movsarova and Others v. Russia (no. 34256/11), Moltayevy v. Russia (no. 42835/11) and Bashkuyeva and Arsayeva v. Russia (no. 4887/14);

10.  Holds that no separate issue arises under Article 13 of the Convention in conjunction with Article 5 of the Convention in Tazuyeva v. Russia (no. 36962/09), Kulishova v. Russia (no. 37430/09), Bachakovy v. Russia (no. 24748/11), Movsarova and Others v. Russia (no. 34256/11), Moltayevy v. Russia (no. 42835/11) and Bashkuyeva and Arsayeva v. Russia (no. 4887/14);

11.  Holds

(a)  that the respondent State is to pay the applicants, within three months, the amounts indicated in the appended table, plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicants, to be converted into the currency of the respondent State at the rate applicable at the date of settlement. The awards in respect of costs and expenses are to be paid into the representatives’ bank accounts as indicated by the applicants;

(b)  that from the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amounts at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period, plus three percentage points;

12.  Dismisses the remainder of the applicants’ claims for just satisfaction.

Done in English, and notified in writing on 22 January 2019, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.

Stephen Phillips                                                                   Branko Lubarda
Registrar                                                                              President

 

APPENDIX

No. Application no. and date of introduction Applicant

Date of birth

Place of residence

Kinship with the abducted person(s)

Abducted person(s) Represented by Pecuniary damage Non-pecuniary damage Costs and expenses
1. 36962/09

05/06/2009

Ms Maret TAZUYEVA

16/05/1957

Groznyy

mother

 

Mr Alik

TAZUYEV

 

 

 

Mr Dokka ITSLAYEV EUR 12,000

(twelve thousand euros)

EUR 60,000 (sixty thousand euros) EUR 2,000

(two thousand euros)

2. 37430/09

25/06/2009

Ms Valentina KULISHOVA

15/05/1952

Bogoroditskoye

mother

 

Mr Dmitry KULISHOV

 

SRJI/ ASTREYA EUR 8,000

(eight thousand euros)

EUR 60,000

(sixty

thousand euros)

 

EUR 1,846

(one thousand eight hundred and forty six euros)

3. 43724/09

16/07/2009

1) Ms Zura SOLTAGIRAYEVA

03/04/1955

Gudermes

mother

 

2) Ms Rukiyat KHEZRIYEVA

20/11/1975

Gudermes

wife

 

3) Mr Islam SOLTAGIRAYEV

03/09/2001

Gudermes

son

 

4) Mr Sayfulla SOLTAGIRAYEV

05/04/1998

Gudermes

son

 

5) Ms Inzhila SOLTAGIRAYEVA

27/02/2000

Gudermes

daughter

Mr Askhab SOLTAGIRAYEV

 

SRJI/ ASTREYA EUR 12,000

(twelve thousand euros) to the first and second applicants each

 

EUR 1,500

(one thousand five hundred euros) to the third and fifth applicants each

 

EUR 1,300 (one thousand three hundred euros) to the fourth applicant

 

EUR 60,000 (sixty thousand euros) to the applicants jointly EUR 2,000

(two thousand euros)

4. 35816/10

14/05/2010

Mr Timur TANGIYEV

24/07/1977

Groznyy

brother

Mr Anzor TANGIYEV Mr Valeriy SHUKHARDIN EUR 60,000 (sixty thousand euros)
5. 54733/10

08/09/2010

1) Ms Khamsat TSAKAYEVA

20/05/1954

Alkhan-Yurt

mother

 

2) Ms Rakhat (also spelled as Rakat) DUBAYEVA

24/03/1939

Gekhi

grandmother

 

3) Mr Magomed-Salyakh TSAKAYEV

04/12/1990

Grozny

brother

Mr Timur TSAKAYEV SRJI/
ASTREYA
EUR 8,000 (eight thousand euros) to the first applicant

 

 

EUR 700 to the second and third applicants each

EUR 60,000 (sixty thousand euros) to the applicants jointly EUR 2,000

(two thousand euros)

6. 24748/11

17/03/2011

1) Ms Maryan BACHAKOVA

15/11/1961

Argun

sister

 

2) Ms Marita BACHAKOVA

12/02/1966

Argun

sister

 

3) Ms Madina BACHAKOVA

28/07/1971

Argun

sister

Mr Aslan BACHAKOV MATERI CHECHNI EUR 5,000

(five thousand euros) to the applicants jointly

EUR 60,000 (sixty thousand euros) to the applicants jointly EUR 1,000

(one thousand euros)

7. 29826/11

18/04/2011

1) Mr Vakha OSMAYEV

05/05/1943

Mesker-Yurt

father, passed away

 

2) Ms Shaist OSMAYEVA

24/04/1949

Mesker-Yurt

the mother

 

3) Mr Alvi OSMAYEV

13/04/1973

Mesker-Urt

brother

 

 

4) Mr Shamkhan OSMAYEV

19/03/1977

Mesker-Yurt

brother

 

Mr Olkhazur OSMAYEV MATERI CHECHNI EUR 12,000

(twelve thousand euros) to the second, third and fourth applicants jointly

EUR 60,000 (sixty thousand euros) to the second, third and fourth applicants jointly EUR 1,000

(one thousand euros)

8. 34256/11

13/05/2011

1) Ms Esyat (also spelled as Eset) MOVSAROVA

12/06/1956

Grozny

mother

 

2) Mr Idris MOVSAROV

24/10/1976

Grozny

brother

 

3) Ms Madina DEVNIYEVA

21/10/1972

Grozny

wife

Mr Ilyas MOVSAROV MATERI CHECHNI EUR 12,000

(twelve thousand euros) to the applicants jointly

EUR 60,000 (sixty thousand euros) to the applicants jointly EUR 1,000

(one thousand euros)

9. 42835/11

27/06/2011

1) Mr Ziyavdi MOLTAYEV

01/01/1942

Achkhoy-Martan

father, passed away

 

2) Ms Shema MOLTAYEVA

25/09/1941

Achkhoy-Martan

mother, passed away

Ms Larisa KHATSIYEVA

21/09/1970

Achkhoy-Martan

sister, pursued the application on behalf of Mr Ziyavdi MOLTAYEV and

Ms Shema MOLTAYEVA

Mr Adlan MOLTAYEV

(also spelled as MALTAYEV)

MATERI CHECHNI EUR 60,000 (sixty thousand euros) to Ms Larisa KHATSIYEVA

 

EUR 1,000

(one thousand euros)

10. 4887/14

17/12/2013

 

1) Ms Alpatu BASHKUYEVA

17/04/1965

Elistanzhi

mother of Mr Bayali

(also spelled as Bay-Ali)

BASHKUYEV

 

2) Ms Malika ARSAYEVA

01/04/1965

Grozny

motheror Mr Umar ARSAYEV

 

(1) Mr Bayali

(also spelled as Bay-Ali)

BASHKUYEV

 

(2) Mr Umar ARSAYEV

Mr Suleyman KHADZHIMURATOV EUR 60,000 (sixty thousand euros) to each of the applicants

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