June 12, 2021

Chechens in France fear deportations

When the police arrived at his home at dawn on Wednesday, May 26, Anzor (the first name has been changed) ” not understood “. With his wife, he found himself handcuffed in the bedroom, in front of the children. “The police came to look for the son of my concubine”, explains this 38-year-old Chechen national, in France for seventeen years, and who lives in the Bas-Rhin. That day, four young people aged 16 to 18 were arrested in this department and placed in police custody for criminal terrorist association, suspected of having “Prepared a violent action plan”. They will finally be released three days later, without prosecution.

There are also suspicions about Anzor. The authorities want to deport him to Russia, believing that he represents a “Threat to order and public safety”. A political refugee in France after fleeing Chechnya, he was stripped of his status. He has never been prosecuted, but “white notes” issued by intelligence believe he is dating frequented radicals. He replies: “There is no evidence against me. My country, that of my children, is France. “ The Bas-Rhin expulsion commission gave an unfavorable opinion on his dismissal on April 27. The prefecture still has to decide its fate.

Read our survey: “Until recently, we managed to blend in”: the dismay of the Chechens

Against the backdrop of the fight against terrorism and suspicions of radicalization, the Chechens of France – a few tens of thousands of people in total – have faced increased pressure from the authorities in recent months. In the wake of the assassination of history and geography professor Samuel Paty, on October 16, 2020, in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine (Yvelines), by a young Chechen refugee, Gérald Darmanin announced his intention to intensify the dismissals of people from this Caucasian republic ruled by dictator Ramzan Kadyrov. In mid-November 2020, the Interior Ministry went to Moscow to discuss the issue with its Russian counterparts.

Darmanin hardened his tone

Since then, Amnesty International, the League for Human Rights and the Chechen Committee have recorded at least ten expulsions. That of Magomed Gadaïev, on April 13, created a stir within the community. This 36-year-old Chechen, suspected of Islamist radicalization by the interior ministry, is known to be an opponent of the Kadyrov regime and to be in danger of death. “To my knowledge, we have not heard from him since April 24”, reports his lawyer, Me Arnaud Toulouse. Upon his arrival in Russia, Mr. Gadayev was detained by the FSB, the Russian security services, then transferred to Chechnya. The Council of State, seized by his lawyers, rejected, in mid-May, the cancellation of his expulsion.

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