Amnesty International has called on the Russian authorities to allow immediate legal support for two brothers who appear to have been tortured in police custody in the North Caucasus territory of Ingushetia.
Beslan Tsechoev and Adam Tsechoev were arrested last week in a raid on their home by dozens of masked uniformed men, according to family members, and have been held incommunicado since then.
Beslan Tsechoev has been diagnosed with severe head and back injuries, prompting allegations he was beaten at the police station where the two men are being held.
"There is strong evidence that these men were tortured while in police custody and the Ingushetian authorities must ensure that they are protected from further abuse. Access to their lawyers is crucial in this regard," said Andrea Huber, Amnesty International's Europe and Central Asia deputy director.
"The torture allegations must be fully investigated by the Russian authorities."
The brothers' house was raided on 8 June by a group of men speaking Ingush and Russian, according to family members who spoke to Amnesty International.
The men searched the house, reportedly without identifying themselves or showing a search warrant, before producing a hand grenade they claimed to have found in the house.
Beslan and Adam Tsechoev were then taken away without further explanation. The family say the hand grenade was planted.
A few hours after the arrest, an ambulance was called to Malgobek police station. A medical certificate seen by Amnesty International confirms that Beslan Tsechoev suffered serious injuries to his back and head. There was a second ambulance visit on 11 June.
Neither the family, the brothers' lawyer or Ingushetian human rights officials have been able to establish any contact with the detainees, despite repeated attempts to do so.
The head of Malgobek police station has reportedly said the brothers were detained for resisting lawful actions of law enforcement officers. He did not mention the hand grenade allegedly found in the house, according to the brothers' lawyer and family.
Amnesty International has learned of various allegations of torture and other ill-treatment by law enforcement officials in the Russian Federation. Ethnic Chechen and Ingush men have reportedly been particularly targeted in the North Caucasus region, with some detainees being tortured or ill-treated to extract a “confession” or to incriminate another suspect.
The security situation in Ingushetia, a republic of 500,000 inhabitants situated between Chechnya and North Ossetia, has deteriorated since 2007.
There has been an increased number of attacks by illegal armed groups against government officials and civilians.