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Published in Stream:
Russia Update: March 3, 2016
Press by
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Did Uzbek Nanny Who Beheaded Child Have Ties with 'Extremists' and a Tajik 'Islamist' Boyfriend?
4 years
Churov, Former Head of Russian Central Elections Commission, Falls Out of Restructured Commission

As we reported this morning, a source within Russian law-enforcement told Interfax that the Uzbek nanny suspected of murdering a 4-year-old child and parading with her severed head had the telephone numbers of two foreign extremists in her cell phone.

Vladimir Markin, spokesman for the Investigative Committee, denied any such extremist contacts were found in the phone saying "it does not correspond to reality."

The independent media has been torn between dropping this story of Gulchekhra Bobokulova, an Uzbek nanny murder suspect reported to be mentally ill, and following up on suspicions that there is more to her story implicating Islamist extremists. Russian state broadcasters have maintained a blackout on the story, fearing incitement of ethnic unrest, and the Investigative Committee often issues misleading statements, so they dig deeper.

Today, a Just Russia faction member in the State Duma filed a protest with the prosecutor over a symbol now being used by the Communist faction in their anti-migrant campaign: a ban sign of a woman holding up a severed child's head, Novaya Gazeta reported.


2016-03-03 22:01:40

After the complaint was filed, the image was removed but is still visible in Google cache and has spread around social media.

While there has been ample news suggesting Bobokulova could have been under the influence of drugs or suffering from a delusional attack, a number of details in the story don't check out.

Initially, officials said that she committed the murder because she was upset because her husband had cheated on her with another woman. But it turned out she was divorced in 2002, and that her three children had been sent to live with either relatives or their father. Subsequent reports indicated she had a boyfriend she met in Moscow, a Tajik, who may have been the figure in question, and who was said to have gone to another woman. 

Meanwhile, her father has given a lengthy interview to Gazeta.ru in which he describes his daughter's many incidents of displays of mental illness, including her hospitalization for two weeks and diagnosis of schizophrenia. He said she did not attend services at mosques, did not read the Koran, and had never worn a hijab until the day that she donned a veil and long dress and traveled to the Oktyabrskoye Pole metro stop to walk up and down with the child's severed head, crying "Allahu Akbar" and threatening to blow herself up. She had heard voices, however.

Yesterday, Uzbek authorities arrested her 19-year-old son in Samarkand Region and are still holding him, and it is not clear why -- possibly to interrogate him and force his cooperation with the investigation or perhaps for more serious charges. No information is available.

An unnamed law-enforcement source told Interfax that Bobokulova had two friends who were "related to an international extremist group" whose numbers were in her cell phone.

They said the contacts were added this year in January, when she was on vacation in her native Samarkind from her job as a nanny for a Moscow family.

At the time of the murder and the fire started at the apartment on Narodnogo Opolcheniya Street, one of Bobokulova's cell phone contacts shut off his phone, says the source. Investigators are now determining their location and whether they met with Bobokulova before or during the murder of the 4-year-old disabled girl.

During the court hearing yesterday, March 2, Bobokulova was placed under arrest for two months, a representative of the Investigative Committee said they believed there were "instigators" to her horrific act, and that if she was left free, she might get in touch with them.

Before the hearing, Bobokulova replied to journalists' questions that "Allah had ordered" the murder of the child. 

A law-enforcement source told Interfax:

According to our information, during the period of her stay in Russia, Bobokulova cohabitated with a citizen of Tajikistan, who was subjected to a work-over with the ideas of Islamist extremism.
He said that while on a visit home in January, she behaved aggressively and showed fellow villagers a hijab she had been given by her boyfriend although she did not give his name.

Yuliya Latynina, a columnist for both Novaya and Ekho Moskvy, has published a post in which she analyzed the fresh claim from law-enforcement that the nanny's Tajik boyfriend was known as an Islamist and had now gone missing.

She quipped that when the nanny cried that she "hated democracy" in the court room, she must have been insane as there is none in Russia. Says Latynina:

In a tape that has appeared on the Internet, Bobokulova herself confidentially explains to the investigator her act as revenge against Putin for bombing Syria.
Latynina does not provide a link to the alleged tape; a LifeNews tape of her purported interrogation has a number of parts muted. Latynina writes:

How is Bobokulova, with a severed head in her hands, different from the fighters in Syria with severed heads in their hands? Because she's crazy and they aren't? Answer: because they are part of an organization. But now it turns out that she is also a part of one.
Oh, no, people, this is not insanity. Insanity is not collective. When it is collective, it is called idelogy. And whether some number of the bearers of this ideology were not quite psychiatrically healthy to start with is a separate question.

So far, there's no evidence that her Tajik boyfriend is part of any organized terrorist group, however. And that's a major difficulty in assessing this story, given the propensity for not only Russia, but especially Central Asian governments, to find "terrorists" when they may not exist.

UPDATE: Here is the link to the video referenced by Latynina; Currentime.TV ran a transcript (in Russian).


-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick