Where Aziz prefers to serve term? Two countries can’t divide one thief in law
A thief in law has absconded from Kyrgyzstan and is hiding in Chechnya. Earlier he had served a term for illegal storage of firearms; this time, he was convicted for a ‘drunk’ traffic accident. The Kyrgyz authorities are still figuring out who had released Aziz Batukaev and hope for his extradition from Russia. However, this is unlikely. Apparently, the thief in law feels more comfortable in Chechnya.
Chechen thief in law Aziz Batukaev, who has made a criminal career in Kyrgyzstan, fled to his ancestral land and does not intend to return back. He had served a prison term in Chechnya for illegal storage of firearms and got liberty in early September 2017. His release was anticipated not only in Chechnya, but in Kyrgyzstan as well. In 2013, the health of Aziz – who was detained in the Maximum Security Penal Colony № 24 of Naryn at that time – has deteriorated. Batukaev was diagnosed with acute leukemia. The diagnose has been established by a special medical board and the prison doctor. The terminal illness has made it possible to ask the court to release the detainee. The court has upheld the position of the medics stating that Batukaev won’t last for long. The court decision was based on Article 363 of the Criminal-Procedural Code stipulating the early release of seriously ill convicts.
On April 9, 2013, six hours after the court verdict announcement, Batukaev arrived to the Bishkek airport and flew away by a private jet performing a chartered flight from Bishkek to Grozny. According to some information, the transportation of Batukaev by a private Bombardier Challenger 300 aircraft (a luxury business jet) was arranged by Chechen politician and Deputy of the State Duma Adam Delimkhanov – a close associate of Ramzan Kadyrov. Interestingly, Batukaev was the first convict in Kyrgyzstan released due to a serious illness. His 16-year prison term has, in fact, been cut by 8 years, 3 months, and 7 days.
Video: Thief in law Aziz Batukaev in Manas International Airport
Shocked by the excellent coordination and smoothness of his release, the Kyrgyz authorities have put two and two together when the thief in law was already beyond their reach. Loud statements were made in the parliament – as well as mutual accusations by enforcement authorities and judges. Zarylbek Rysaliev, then-Head of the State Penitentiary Service, was among those blamed for the escape of Batukaev. He had denied any guilt and insisted that his agency only complies with court verdicts. Later Rysaliev said in an interview to the local press that the thief in law had called him from Chechnya.
«Aziz Batukaev called me and said: “I have paid off both the black and red. For me, prison is a second home. There is no difference for me whether I do time in a Kyrgyz or Russian jail. Perhaps, Deputies think that I come to the central tribune and tell everything. I am not a Deputy to come to the microphone and speak. If you need, I am ready to come and get jailed again. But I have paid off both the black and red. I am right. You understand the black and red laws,"» – Rysaliev told. He hasn’t specified though how could a thief in law get his telephone number and why had he explained his rightness in a friendly manner. The ex-Head of the State Penitentiary Service also said that he possesses information and records showing who had accompanied Batukaev from the prison to the airplane ramp and promised to publish those – but so far, he hasn’t done this.
On April 30, 2014, Naryn City Court has annulled its earlier decision to release Batukaev and put him on the international wanted list. The Kyrgyz authorities have submitted a request to extradite the fugitive. But the response received from Russia had stated that this was impossible: “According to the information provided by the relevant authorities of the Russian Federation, a criminal case against Aziz Batukaev is currently under investigation by the Administration of Criminal Investigation of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) for the Chechen Republic in the City of Grozny. He is charged with illegal acquisition, storage, and sale of firearms. This constitutes a bar to the extradition of Batukaev prior to the completion of the preliminary investigation, sentencing, and serving the punishment”. In September 2014, Leninsky District Court of Grozny has sentenced Batukaev to three years behind bars under part 1 of Article 222 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.
It seemed that upon completion of the new prison term, the fugitive would be escorted from Chernokozovo Penal Colony № 2 in Chechnya to Naryn to serve the rest of his earlier term. However, rumors started leaking from Chechnya that Batukaev is not only healthy but, being on the loose, he arranges criminal ‘meetings’ in the center of Grozny. At one of such ‘meetings’, Karyshkyr – the successor to Batukaev in Kyrgyzstan – was ‘crowned’. There were also photos of feasts having nothing to do with the prison environment.
Aziz Batukaev (second on the right), 2015
Aziz Batukaev (second on the right), 2017
The prison term of the fugitive thief in law has officially expired in early September 2017. The Prosecutor General’s Office of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan had expected to get back the criminal – but the Chechen court has delivered another judgment. In August, a district court in Grozny has sentenced Batukaev to 4 years and 10 days in a settlement colony with deprivation of the right to drive transportation means for 3 years.
According to the court records, Aziz Batukaev has committed this crime 1.5 month before his conviction for possession of firearms: on May 24, 2014 – i.e. on the same day when he was put on the international wanted list.
The indictment against Batukaev states that on that day, the intoxicated thief in law was behind the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz 500 and caused a traffic accident near Starye Atagi village located 20 km from Grozny. According to the case file, while making a prohibited overtaking maneuver, Batukaev has hit a VAZ-2110 vehicle at a speed of 120 km per hour. As a result, the driver of the VAZ-2110 was killed on the scene. Aziz Batukaev has fled the scene by a car share in fear of revenge from victim’s relatives.
It is necessary to note that relatives of Batukaev have promptly visited the relatives of killed Magomed Ampukaev and made peace with them. The incident was forgotten for a while. But then it has been remembered again. It is hard to say now whether a deadly traffic accident had occurred in reality or not. Traffic violation records of the MIA for the Chechen Republic for the year of 2014 do not list any similar incidents. Of course, not all car crashes are shown on the MIA web site, but deadly accidents must be posted there. However, no information is available on the official portal about an incident involving drunk internationally wanted ‘thief-in-law’ Batukaev who had attempted to flee the scene.
This is not the first time when criminals and suspects hide in Chechnya. For instance, Ruslan Mukhudinov charged in the framework of the ‘Nemtsov case’ and arrested in absentia by Basmanny Court of Moscow is in Chechnya. Most probably, he resides in the Nozhai-Yurt district of the republic. Ruslan Geremeev, Company Commander in Sever (North) Battalion, believed to be the true mastermind behind the murder of Boris Nemtsov resides there as well. Geremeev is not even a witness in that criminal case. Magomed Suleimanov, the murderer of colonel Budanov, had left Moscow and was hiding in Chechnya. However, the investigators managed to lure him to the capital and arrest. The point is that they had to lure the suspect – instead of arresting him in the North Caucasus. Rustam Makhmudov, the murderer of Anna Politkovskaya, had been hiding for many years in his own home in his ancestral village. Ramzan Tsitsulaev, ex-Plenipotentiary Envoy of the Head of the Republic, charged with swindling on a large scale and resistance to representatives of authority in 2014 is on the loose in Chechnya as well.
The premeditated escape of Batukaev had likely cost plenty of money in Kyrgyzstan. Was his liberty in Chechnya cheaper? No one can say why did the Chechen authorities need a ‘thief-in-law’. Perhaps, Chechnya wants to be able to exercise some influence upon the criminal world via an ‘authoritative’ ‘crowned thief’ in the person of Batukaev? Despite his drug addiction (he had a personal marijuana patch in the Kyrgyz penal colony) and political views (there were portraits of Maskhadov and Basaev on the walls of his cell, as well as the flag of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria)? In addition, many people challenge his ‘thievish title’ calling him an ‘orange thief’ – i.e. self-proclaimed criminal ‘authority’.
Ryspek Akmatbaev, another Kyrgyz criminal ‘authority’ killed on May 10, 2006 (he was not ‘crowned’ due to his biography) had openly called Aziz Batukaev a ‘ biscuit’ – this means a dummy figure in the thieves’ argot.
“They often range Aziz Batukaev against me, but he never was a thief in law. The MIA has made him a thief in law to range against me. We call such persons ‘biscuits’. If he were placed to a prison camp, anybody considering himself worthy had to kill him – therefore, he was never moved outside. He was convicted under the ‘rape’ article; he had raped and killed a 14-year-old girl from Tokmak. He had to be killed in the prison camp for this. All of you understand why he wasn’t killed. He had collaborated with the cops since the first day,” – Akmatbaev had remembered in his lifetime.
However, according to the official information, Batukaev has been crowned in 1993 in Moscow by thief Datiko ‘Dato Tashkentsky’ Tsikhelashvili. The Chechen ‘authority’ was born in Kyrgyzstan and made his criminal career there – up until his triumphal release, Batukaev was getting all his sentences and serving terms in Kyrgyzstan.
In early 2017, the Prosecutor Generals of the two countries have specifically discussed the future deportation of Batukaev at a meeting. In fact, they have at least four years to discuss all the details of this matter. According to Indira Dzholdubaeva, Prosecutor General of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan, it is currently impossible to prove the forgery of Batukaev’ medical tests and punish the offenders. Real bone marrow samples are required for this.
Indira Dzholdubaeva, Prosecutor General of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan
“Samples taken from Batukaev have been received, but the experts found those unsuitable for the assessment. We have submitted a request to the Prosecutor’s Office of Russia to send us new samples. But the response stated that Batukaev has refused to provide samples,” – Dzholdubaeva said. There are no legal grounds to collect the specimens on a compulsory basis. No one was charged so far in the framework of the criminal case instituted after the illegal release of the convict.
In 2015, the members of the organized crime group were acquitted by the Moscow Regional Military Court, however, subsequently, the sentence was revoked by the Supreme Court, and the case was joined with that related to two other members of the gang.
A federal judge other than retired Catherine Forrest will consider the case of Razhden Shulaya, who is charged with the creation of a criminal syndicate and other crimes, in the Federal District Court of the Southern District of New York.