On November 24, Akim Kuliyev arrived at a hospital in a small village in Dagestan with a police escort and several injuries that looked to be torture wounds. The 32-year-old was one of five suspects believed to have set fire to a local government building in September. However, while the government denies any wrongdoing, Kuliyev’s relatives, as well as his longtime friend and UFC fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov, believe he was tortured by Dagestani police in an attempt to extract a confession.
According to OC-Media, the incident began on November 4th in the mountain village of Rutul, where five men were arrested on suspicion of committing arson. The suspects were charged with arson, as well as for large scale illegal storage of drugs. Kuliyev and another suspect were also charged with illegal storage of weapons.
The men were arrested for a fire that took place on September 13, one that was not analyzed by experts to confirm that arson was to blame for the blaze. According to Kuliyev’s relatives, the fire’s cause was viewed as “probable” though was never confirmed.
Despite no official investigation into the fire, police surrounded Kuliyev’s home and arrested him on November 4. According to his wife, police officers planted drugs on him at the time and staged a search thereafter to frame him.
‘Some of them, right in front of my eyes, put drugs into my husband’s pocket. And then they called their witnesses, turned on the camera, recorded me, my husband, and our children, as if it was all scripted, and began to conduct the second search’, Elada said (h/t OC-Media).
Kuliyev was detained in Makhachkala for 20 days, where it is believed he was repeatedly tortured in an attempt to extract a confession. According to Khabib Nurmagomedov, Kuliyev opted to tear open his stomach rather than sign a testimony admitting to a crime he did not commit.
Nurmagomedov eventually took to Instagram in his friend’s defence:
"The person you see in the photo is my friend Akim Kuliyev, whom I know since my childhood, first of all, as a very brave man. Those who had tortured and abused him got convinced of it, I'm sure... During another act of torture, he cut his stomach open, stating that he would not sign to what he hadn't done.”
Срочно❗️❗️❗️ Салам Аллейкум Всем. Этот пост я хочу посвятить ДАГЕСТАНУ, который утопает в несправедливости. Человек, которого вы видите на фотке это мой друг Кулиев Аким, я знаю его с детства, в первую очередь как очень храброго Мужчину, те кто его мучали и пытали убедились в этом я уверен, и я даже уверен они удивились на сколько он Мужественен, его не первый день мучают и во время очередных пыток, он вскрыл свой живот, говоря что не подпишет то, что не сделал. Его и ещё пару человек вместе с ним обвиняют в поджоге Администрации Рутульского района. Если человек сделал какое то преступление, ну так судите его по ЗАКОНУ РФ, в чем проблема вообще? пусть СУД рассудит виновны они или нет, или пытки Людей входят в Законы РФ? Хочу обратиться к Депутатам Гос Думы РФ от ДАГЕСТАНА, общественным нашим деятелям, спортсменам и политикам, чтоб подключились к этой теме и не оставались в стороне, сегодня кого то не коснулось это, но такими темпами не многие останутся в стороне. И пусть АЛЛАХ накажет всех тех, кто сеет НЕСПРАВЕДЛИВОСТЬ в нашем Дагестане. #МаксимальныйРепост #пыткиЛюдей #Дагестан #ВсевышнийВсеВидит
Khabib’s claim that his friend had cut himself open was later confirmed by the Dagestani government website. The website stated that a local resident “inflicted himself with an injury using fragments of tiles in the abdomen and hands at a temporary detention facility.”
The fighter also appealed to the State Duma (Russia’s lower parliament), as well as other politicians and athletes, not to remain “indifferent to the injustice taking place in Dagestan.”
The UFC fighter’s comment about injustice in Dagestan comes on the heels of several recent changes within Nurmagomedov’s native republic. According to reports, Kuliyev’s relatives believe the new police chief, Artyom Magomedov, is behind the arrests and recent rise in police brutality.
The Russian State Duma has since reacted to Nurmagomedov’s statement.
"It follows from Khabib's message, unlawful investigation methods are applied to Kuliyev," Rizvan Kurbanov, a Russian State Duma MP from Dagestan, says in his video appeal posted in his Instagram.