Persoverzicht januari 2003

3 januari 2003

Col Budanov declared insane, cleared of criminal responsibility: (i) Col Budanov, the Russian army officer on trial for the murder of a young Chechen woman, was cleared of all criminal charges on 31 December, with a military court in Rostov-on-Don ruling he was temporarily insane at the time of the murder and ordering him to a psychiatric clinic. The court also pointed out to the Defence Ministry that, as a forensic report suggested, Budanov was insane when commanding a tank regiment during hostilities in Chechnya. Khamzayev, lawyer for the family of the killed Chechen woman Elza Kungayeva, said they would file an appeal at the Military Branch of the Russian Supreme Court within 10 days. (ii) Russia’s Human Rights Ombudsman Mironov said the decision was “a very alarming symptom” of problems in the Russian armed forces. Deputy Head of the Chechen Civilian Administration Taus Dzhabrailov said “the outcome was clear from the court proceedings”, adding that the court’s ruling may excite a negative response in Chechnya. (TVS, Interfax, Ekho Moskvy)

North Caucasus: OSCE AG in Chechnya stops operations: (i) Speaking on the activities of the OSCE Assistance Group in Chechnya, FM I.Ivanov said that its mandate which expired on 31 December, would not be extended and that the OSCE Group would cease to exist from 1 January 2003. He noted that Russia “had in advance, almost 2 months ago, circulated in the OSCE proposals regarding the prospects for the continuation of the Group’s activities in 2003”. Ivanov said the Russian government wanted the OSCE to focus its work on humanitarian relief operations. "Unfortunately, not all our partners were ready to adequately assess the situation and to fully understand the new realities in Chechnya," he said. (ii) Yesterday, 2 Russian military officers, kidnapped in Grozny earlier this week, managed to escape from their captors. The Russian Defence Ministry said it could not immediately clarify the information. (iii) Meeting with servicemen recovering in the Burdenko hospital in Moscow on 31 December, Defence Minister S.Ivanov said that another well-known rebel leader Idris Khatuyev was killed in Chechnya. (Rossia, TVS, Interfax, RIAN, www.mid.ru, Ekho Moskvy)

6 januari 2003

Reactions to closing of OSCE AG in Chechnya: (i) In a radio interview with Mayak on Saturday, Deputy FM Chizhov stressed that “a consensus decision to renew the mandate of the OSCE AG in Chechnya had not been reached” and “on 1 January the mission entered the stage of a technical shutdown” which would last until 21 March. He emphasized that Russia “would continue cooperation with the OSCE in this sector”, adding that the OSCE “is in a position to monitor an election process in Chechnya without having an Assistance Group there”. (ii) In an interview last Friday, Ella Pamfilova, Head of the Presidential Human Rights Commission, said that the OSCE AG in Chechnya should resume working “in a new quality, strengthen its humanitarian component and draw both financial and psychological resources for improving the position of refugees and forced migrants”. According to Lyudmila Alexeeva, Head of the Moscow Helsinki Group, presence of the OSCE AG in Chechnya could have helped the political settlement in the republic. Duma member Aslakhanov who represents Chechnya stressed that “it would be a serious mistake to close the mission just a few months before a referendum on a draft Chechen Constitution”. (ii) Media report the reaction by U.S. Department of State Spokesman Boucher, who is quoted as saying that the U.S. was “disappointed with the Russian Government’s decision to end the mandate of the OSCE AG in Chechnya” and that Washington “is engaged in an effort to find a suitable formula as soon as possible that will allow the mission to continue its humanitarian efforts”. (TVS, NTV, Interfax, RIAN, Ekho Moskvy, www.mid.ru)

North Caucasus: (i) According to Chechen Administration officials, 13,200 signatures have been collected in support for a referendum on a draft Chechen Constitution. (ii) Media report that a gunman named Khidirov who had been detained in Chechnya, gave evidence against warlords close to Ichkerian separatist leader Maskhadov, including Akhmed Zakayev. (iii) In a special statement issued yesterday, the Russian Foreign Ministry welcomed the decision by Kazakhstan to extradite a member of the Chechen illegal armed formation Gasanov. (iv) Speaking at a session of the federal commission for rehabilitation of Chechnya yesterday, Chechen PM Babich placed the death toll of the Grozny terrorist attack on 27 December at 72 dead and 210 injured. (Rossia, First Channel, Interfax, Ekho Moskvy, www.mid.ru)

8 januari 2003

Kadyrov on referendum in Chechnya; OSCE representative finds referendum premature: (i) Head of Chechen Administration Kadyrov said in an interview with Interfax on Monday that the perpetrators of the terrorist attack near the Chechen government building on 27 December have failed to hamper the referendum in the republic. He called the collection of signatures in support of the referendum “a kind of response to the terrorist attack” (Interfax). (ii) Former head of OSCE assistance group to Chechnya Jorma Inki is quoted by Ekho Moskvy as saying that the OSCE will hardly recognize the Chechen referendum, as it finds it premature (Ekho Moskvy, lenta.ru).

EC allocates €3 million for Chechen population: RIAN reports that the EC allocated €3 million for aid to the Chechen population

9 januari 2003

FM Ivanov on interaction with OSCE on Chechnya: Addressing a press conference at the end of his meeting with French FM de Villepin, Foreign Minister Ivanov said that Russia does not intend to stop working with OSCE on Chechnya, even though the mandate for the organization’s relating mission has come to an end. He stressed that Russia is prepared to interact with OSCE institutions that could really contribute to the settlement in Chechnya (Interfax, Vremya novostei).

Referendum in Chechnya likely to be held on 16 March: Interfax quotes a member of the action group for the referendum in Chechnya as saying that the referendum on the future constitution is likely to take place on 16 March. An official confirmation of the date is expected this week (Interfax).

Visit of EP delegation to Russia likely to be postponed: Interfax reports that the imminent visit of European Parliament delegation to Chechnya is likely to be postponed following a suggestion made by Duma chairman Seleznyov. The postponement was suggested after the European Parliament granted “a passport for freedom” to Maskhadov’s representative Zakayev, according to Interfax (Interfax, Novye izvestia)

Foreign Ministry confirms cancellation of German journalist’s entry visa: The Russian Foreign Ministry has officially confirmed that German reporter Gunther Wallraff was denied entry into Russia. According to the Ministry’s spokesman, Wallraff requested and obtained a tourist visa for visiting Moscow and St Petersburg but told a German magazine that his actual goal was to visit Chechnya to collect information for journalistic investigation (Interfax, The Moscow Times, Izvestia, Vremya novostei).

10 januari 2003

Poll: 56% favour peace negotiations with Chechen separatists: According to a recent opinion poll held by leading pollster VTSIOM, 56% of respondents favoured peace negotiations with Chechen separatists. 36% spoke out for the continuation of the military operation. The Moscow Times comments that the findings suggest that “public opposition to the war has returned to highs seen for much of 2001-02” reminding that support for the war momentarily swelled after the Moscow theatre siege (The Moscow Times, grani.ru).

Abducted NGO head released from Chechen captivity; two deputy district prosecutors abducted: (i) Nina Davidovich, head of NGO “Druzhba”, has been released during a special FSB raid after nearly six months in captivity in Chechnya. Davidovich said that she survived by a miracle stressing that she was kept in a pit, chained by her leg, and fed once a day (Interfax). (ii) According to reports, which appeared yesterday, on 27 December deputy prosecutors of Chechnya’s Shali and Shatoi districts were abducted in northwest Chechnya (Interfax, lenta.ru, Izvestia, Vremya novostei, Novye izvestia).

New wide-scale mop-up operations in Chechnya: Radio Svoboda reported yesterday about a new wide-scale mop-up operation in Chechnya’s third biggest town Argun. According to the report, the town was encircled by federal troops, 34 residents of the town have been detained. The radio also reported about similar operations held in two villages bordering with Argun, where 20 residents disappeared (Radio Svoboda).

13 januari 2003

Chechen referendum on constitution set for 23 March: Interfax reports that the referendum on the draft constitution of Chechnya has been scheduled for 23 March. Some 530,000 Chechen residents and 38,000 federal troops permanently stationed in Chechnya will be eligible to vote in the referendum. Interfax quotes Central Elections Commission head Veshnyakov as saying that only 6-7% of the signatures of the request for the referendum have been recognized as invalid (Interfax, Kommersant, The Moscow Times, Vremya novostei).

Human rights advocates say Chechen refugees are forced to leave camps: Moscow Helsinki Group chairman Alekseyeva and head of Civil Assistance Committee Gannushkina made a statement following their recent visit to Chechnya saying that Chechen refugees are being forced to leave camps in Ingushetia. Recalling the liquidation of a camp in Aki-Yurt, they said that “no direct physical violence was used, but extremely strong psychological pressure was exerted” (Interfax, Kommersant
Military prosecutors appeal verdict on Budanov’s case: On Thursday military prosecutors appealed the verdict against colonel Budanov, who was found insane and not criminally responsible for the murder of a Chechen girl. The prosecutors insist on the annulment of the verdict and ask for his conviction (Interfax, Kommersant, Izvestia, The Moscow Times).

14 januari 2003

Conflict in Chechen government: Yesterday Chechen Prime Minister Babich openly disagreed with the decree issued by head of Chechen Administration Kadyrov replacing Sergei Abramov, Finance Minister of Chechnya, with his former deputy Isayev. Babich qualified Kadyrov’s decision as “an attack on the system of personnel appointment of the Chechen Republic”. Kommersant comments in a front-page article “Akhmat Kadyrov unleashed war with his Premier” that the outcome of this dispute may have serious political consequences for the republic and its current leaders. Kadyrov’s chances of becoming President of Chechnya depend on the position of the federal centre: will it ask Kadyrov to reconsider his decision or not (Kommersant, Izvestia, Interfax, Vremya novostei).

Manual for production of ricin found in Chechnya: Presidential aid Yastrzhembsky said to Interfax yesterday that when a special task force had destroyed a group of rebels led by Maskhadov in Chechnya, a manual for the production of toxic ricin was found on one of them (Kommersant, Interfax, Rossiyskaya gazeta).

15 januari 2003

Conflict in Chechen government unresolved: All media report about the continuing conflict in the Chechen government over the appointment of new Chechen finance minister Isaev by head of Chechen Administration Kadyrov without prior coordination with Republic’s Prime Minister Babich. Izvestia speculates that Kadyrov does not enjoy anymore Putin’s support and informs that Chechen Prosecutor Kravchenko indicated a violation of the procedure in the appointment made by Kadyrov. Interfax quotes Kadyrov calling Babich’s disagreement a provocation. Kommersant publishes an interview with Babich who states that Kadyrov will have to revoke the appointment (All media).

Presidential envoy for human rights in Chechnya – crucial year for future of Chechen people: Rossiyskaya gazeta publishes a front-page interview with presidential envoy for human rights in Chechnya Sultygov, who stresses the importance of the upcoming referendum on the Chechen constitution saying that this year will be crucial for the future of Chechen people. Sultygov also shares his views on the current conflict in the Chechen government noting that it is important not to over-dramatize the situation.

Lord Judd to arrive in Moscow: Interfax reports that Lord Judd, co-chairman of PACE-Duma Group on Chechnya, will arrive in Moscow this weekend

Rallies in Chechnya: About 300 people held a demonstration in Grozny yesterday protesting against the abduction of five people the previous night. In Argun about 200 protesters alleged that eight young men had gone missing during a recent sweep operation (The Moscow Times).

16 januari 2003

Conflict in Chechen government still high in the news: Media report about the continuing conflict in the Chechen government over the appointment of new Chechen finance minister Isaev by head of Chechen Administration Kadyrov without prior coordination with Republic’s Prime Minister Babich. Kommersant reports in a front-page article that yesterday Presidential envoy in Southern Federal district Kazantsev gave open support to Kadyrov calling the conflict “a minor shortcoming in the work of Babich”. However, the daily believes that support by Kazantsev does not imply support by the Kremlin. Yesterday Babich further exacerbated the conflict by appointing his own nominee Ibragimov as acting Finance Minister of the republic. According to Interfax Babich attributed the hasty resignation of former Finance Minister Abramov to upcoming inspections by the Audit Chamber (All media).

Firing at bus in Chechnya?; rally in Grozny: (i) According to some sources quoted by Interfax, drunken servicemen fired upon a bus killing one and wounding four people on Grozny – Gudermes road in Chechnya. However, according to chief official of Gudermes administration also quoted by Interfax, there were no such incidents in the Gudermes district at all. An investigative team was sent by Chechen Prosecutor to probe the incident on the spot (Interfax, The Moscow Times, Kommersant, Vremya novostei). (ii) Yesterday a group of about 150 people held a protest action in Grozny demanding the release of three detainees (Interfax, Nezavisimaya gazeta).

London ricin connected to Chechnya: Several dailies report about the story of ricin found in the UK and the death of a police officer and inform about a statement made by a Georgian official on Chechen training in poison weapons. Rossiyskaya gazeta reports in a front-page article “From Pankisi to Manchester” that Georgia had admitted that international terrorists prepared military poisons on its territory (Izvestia, Rossiyskaya gazeta, Komsomolskaya Pravda).

17 januari 2003

Public arguments over Chechen Finance Minister appointment continue: (i) Upon his arrival in Grozny yesterday, head of Chechen Administration Kadyrov gave final approval to his appointment of Eli Isaev to the post of Finance Minister and annulled an instruction of Chechen Prime Minister Babich on the appointment of Ibragimov as acting Finance Minister of Chechnya. Another decree of Kadyrov reprimands Babich for “violating labour discipline”. It is also reported that Babich left for Moscow yesterday (Interfax, Kommersant, Vedomosti). (ii) Presidential aide Yastrzhembsky lamented yesterday the conflict between Kadyrov and Babich was carried out in public. He said presidential envoy in the Southern Federal District Kazantsev is in charge of settling the dispute (Interfax, Izvestia).

FM, Presidential aid on possible return of OSCE mission to Chechnya: (i) Foreign Minister Ivanov said yesterday that Russia is ready to discuss with the OSCE the possibility of further cooperation in the political settlement of the problems of Chechnya. He expressed hope for soonest negotiations with the OSCE Chairman-in-Office “to define mutually acceptable forms of interaction with the OSCE in the Chechen situation” (Interfax). (ii) Presidential aid Yastrzhembsky said yesterday he did not rule out that the OSCE mission would return to Chechnya provided “a new mandate is put in place” (Interfax).

Strasbourg court accepts Chechen cases for consideration: The European Court of Human Rights announced yesterday that it would hear six cases filed by Chechens alleging military abuses in Chechnya. According to Interfax, presidential envoy for human rights in Chechnya Sultygov qualified it as an attempt to put political pressure on Russia. Kommersant notes that the cases were not given prior consideration by courts at national level, which is usually a prerequisite for their consideration in Strasbourg (Kommersant, Interfax, Vremya novostei, Nezavisimaya gazeta

Draft Chechen constitution sent to PACE: Interfax reports that the draft Chechen constitution, which is to be submitted for a referendum in the republic in March, was sent to PACE Secretary General Haller (Interfax).

20 januari 2003

Conflict in Chechen government to be resolved on 22 January: The conflict in the Chechen government over the appointment of new Chechen Finance Minister is likely to be resolved on 22 January when the two parties in the conflict, head of Chechen Administration Kadyrov and Chechen Prime Minister Babich, will meet with Russian Finance Minister Kudrin and make a final decision on the ministerial candidate. In the meantime, Kadyrov has rejected protest of the Chechen Prosecutor over the appointment of Isayev as Chechen Finance Minister (Kommersant, Interfax, Izvestia, Nezavisimaya gazeta).

20 billion roubles to be spent on restoration of Chechnya in 2003: Federal Minister for Chechnya Ilyasov said on Saturday that 20 billion roubles (over €600 million) would be spent in 2003 on the reconstruction and restoration of Chechnya. Kommersant doubts the efficiency of restoration in Chechnya, as “whatever is restored will be blown up and vice versa” (Kommersant, Interfax, Vremya novosteHuman rights group on people missing in Chechnya: Head of Human Rights Research Centre Melnikova said on Friday that around 2,500 people have gone missing in Chechnya because military had abducted them during sweep operations. According to Melnikova, draftees serving in Chechnya are also victims, and very little is being done to find prisoners of war (Interfax).

Conflict in Chechen government to be resolved on 22 January: The conflict in the Chechen government over the appointment of new Chechen Finance Minister is likely to be resolved on 22 January when the two parties in the conflict, head of Chechen Administration Kadyrov and Chechen Prime Minister Babich, will meet with Russian Finance Minister Kudrin and make a final decision on the ministerial candidate. In the meantime, Kadyrov has rejected protest of the Chechen Prosecutor over the appointment of Isayev as Chechen Finance Minister (Kommersant, Interfax, Izvestia, Nezavisimaya gazeta).

Human rights group on people missing in Chechnya: Head of Human Rights Research Centre Melnikova said on Friday that around 2,500 people have gone missing in Chechnya because military had abducted them during sweep operations. According to Melnikova, draftees serving in Chechnya are also victims, and very little is being done to find prisoners of war (Interfax).

21 januari 2003

FM Ivanov addresses UN ministerial meeting on fight against terrorism: Addressing a ministerial meeting of the UN Security Council in New York yesterday, Foreign Minister Ivanov expressed disappointment over low progress with the elaboration of two new conventions on terrorism. He also said that Russia has proof linking Chechen rebels to al Qaeda and called for prosecuting Chechen rebels no matter where they are. Media highlight Ivanov’s statement on inadmissibility of double standards with regard to terrorists hiding in foreign countries (Vremya novostei, Interfax, Vedomosti).

PACE delegation discusses Chechen issue in Moscow: Yesterday PACE delegation headed by Lord Judd discussed the situation in Chechnya with Russian officials, including Minister for Chechnya Ilyasov, First Deputy Prosecutor General Biryukov and others. Vremya novostei reports about the visit in an article “Lord changes his mind”. According to the daily, Lord Judd said that during this visit he intends “to support the President and the government of Russia in its drive for a political settlement in Chechnya”. The paper stresses that this is the first visit of a PACE delegation beginning with such a peaceful statement (Interfax, Vremya novostei, Nezavisimaya gazeta).

U.S. may put certain Chechen organizations on terrorist list: Meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister Mamedov yesterday, U.S. Ambassador to Moscow Vershbow said that the U.S. government is considering the inclusion of a number of Chechen organizations on a list of international terrorist groups (Interfax, Rossiyskaya gazeta).

22 januari 2003

Conflict in Chechen government to be resolved today; Chechen Prosecutor threatens Kadyrov with lawsuit: (i) Head of Chechen Administration Kadyrov and Chechen Prime Minister Babich are to meet today with Finance Minister Kudrin to put an end to their dispute over the appointment of the new Chechen Finance Minister. Some TV channels showed Kadyrov and Babich peacefully talking at a meeting in Grozny yesterday claiming that they seem to have reconciled (Kommersant). (ii) Yesterday Chechen Prosecutor Kravchenko threatened Kadyrov with a lawsuit following the latter’s disregard for the Prosecutor’s protest against procedural violations in the appointment of the new Chechen Finance Minister (Kommersant, Vremya MN, Izvestia).

PACE delegation holds meetings on Chechnya; human rights advocates dissatisfied with activities of Duma-PACE group on Chechnya: (i) Yesterday visiting PACE delegation headed by Lord Judd met with Duma Chairman Seleznyov and Chairman of Duma’s International Affairs Committee Rogozin, student representatives of Chechen youth and human rights advocates. (ii) Kommersant reports in an article “Lord Judd is looking for compromise between human rights advocates and Russian authorities” about the dissatisfaction of human rights advocates with the activities of Duma-PACE group on Chechnya noting that they doubt “the sincerity of the Group’s intentions” to protect the rights of Chechen residents (Kommersant, Interfax).

23 januari 2003

Conflict in Chechen government remains unresolved?: Kommersant reports that the conflict between head of Chechen Administration Kadyrov and Chechen Prime Minister Babich over the appointment of a new Finance Minister was not resolved yesterday, as Kadyrov did not turn up at the Russian Finance Ministry where an end to the dispute was to be put. Vremya novostei reports that the meeting did take place but behind closed doors noting that it is still unclear who won in the dispute (Kommersan, Vremya novostei).

24 januari 2003

U.S. First Undersecretary of State on preventive strikes; Chechnya: (i) Kommersant reports that in yesterday’s interview with Ekho Moskvy radio station, visiting U.S. First Undersecretary of State Armitage made “a sensational statement” giving Russia free hand to bomb Chechen rebels in Georgia. The daily stresses that preventive strikes against Georgia’s Pankissi Gorge are off the agenda now, that relations improved, and the American carte blanche is needed not by Russia but by the U.S. who expects a similar gesture from Moscow over Iraq. (ii) On Chechnya, Armitage said that the U.S. is working “very closely” with Russia “in the designation of some Chechen terrorist groups as foreign terrorist organizations” (The Moscow Times).

Chechen PM takes a time-out: Against the background of an ongoing conflict in the Chechen government over the appointment of new Chechen Finance Minister, Chechen Prime Minister Babich is reported to have taken a leave. Vremya novostei quotes a source in the Chechen government as saying that Babich had to take a time-out, as “he has no conditions for efficient work due to the current situation in the Chechen Finance Ministry” (Kommersant, Vremya novostei).

Lord Judd concludes visit to Chechnya: Interfax reports that PACE delegation headed by Lord Judd concluded its visit to Chechnya. Interfax quotes delegation member Iwinsky as saying that PACE supports the referendum on a new Chechen constitution, but stressed the importance that it be democratic and that refugees and displaced persons take part in it. According to Interfax, Ingush President Zyazikov said at a meeting with Lord Judd that international humanitarian aid to tent camps of Chechen refugees in Ingushetia can be reduced and the focus of such aid should be moved to temporary settlements (Interfax, Kommersant, Parlamentskaya gazeta).

27 januari 2003

Lord Judd calls for delay of Chechen referendum; Russian official reactions to criticism: (i) Following his visit to Chechnya, head of PACE delegation Lord Judd said he would ask Russia to reconsider the date for the referendum on the Chechen constitution noting that information on the draft constitution was not sufficient. He also blamed security issues for the lack of a comprehensive discussion. (ii) Hours after Judd’s statement, President Putin told head of Central Elections Commission Veshnyakov to do more to educate voters. It was noted that a sufficient number of copies of the draft constitution would be printed. Vremya MN publishes an interview with Veshnyakov who informs about the measures, which are to be taken in this respect. (iii) Almost immediately after the press conference of Lord Judd, head of Chechen Administration Kadyrov denied criticism voiced by Lord Judd saying that “to draw any conclusions and to give recommendations, one should live in the republic a bit longer”. Rossiyskaya gazeta publishes a lengthy interview with presidential envoy for human rights in Chechnya Sultygov who backs up the need for the referendum to be held on 23 March, as originally planned (Kommersant).

FM Ivanov on U.S. refusal to include Chechen rebels into terrorist list: On Saturday Foreign Minister Ivanov described U.S. refusal to enter Chechen rebels on its list of terrorist organizations as a double-standard policy and “a Cold War relapse” (Interfax, The Moscow Times, Vremya novostei, Vedomosti).

Kadyrov visits Libya and Jordan: Kommersant reports that on Friday head of Chechen Administration Kadyrov left for a visit to Jordan and Libya with a view to convince the leaders of those countries and expatriates from the Caucasus living there that the war in Chechnya is aimed against international terrorists and bandits (Kommersant, Izvestia).

Three suspects in downing federal helicopters in Chechnya detained: Three Chechen rebels who are suspected to be behind the crashes of three federal helicopters in 2001-2002 were detained in a refugee camp in Ingushetia (Kommersant, Interfax)

28 januari 2003

Rogozin against postponement of Chechen referendum; disagreement within PACE on referendum?: (i) Rogozin, head of Russian delegation at the ongoing PACE session, said that the delegation would insist on the amendment of draft PACE recommendations on Chechnya proposing to postpone the Chechen constitutional referendum to a later date. Rogozin also said that if PACE does not support the amendments, the Russian delegation would ask to replace rapporteur Lord Judd (Interfax, Vremya novostei). (ii) Yesterday PACE Chairman Schieder said that a delay of the Chechen referendum could hinder the positive changes, which it could bring to the political life of Chechnya, and noted that PACE would like to send its observers to the referendum. On the other hand, Schieder also referred to the opinion of Lord Judd who suggested a delay of the referendum. Nezavisimaya gazeta reports about the issue in the article “Schieder makes dubious statement” (Nezavisimaya gazeta, Interfax).

Telephone hotline in Chechnya: Kommersant reports in an article “Hot line to hot spot” that following criticism by Lord Judd over lack of information on the Chechen referendum, a hot telephone line was set up in Grozny yesterday to provide information on the referendum. The daily doubts the efficiency of this innovation, as there are only 25 cable telephone lines in Grozny at the moment.

29 januari 2003

Russian officials continue to reject Judd’s proposal on Chechen referendum delay: (i) Following earlier reactions by other officials, Presidential representative in the Southern Federal district Kazantsev said yesterday that Lord Judd’s proposal “is based on shallow observations and disjointed facts that fail to reflect the situation in Chechnya”. (ii) Russian ombudsman Mironov criticised the proposal to postpone the referendum saying that it will “delay the process of creating a solid state structure in Chechnya”. The issue will be discussed today at PACE (Interfax, The Moscow Times, Vremya novostei, Nezavisimaya gazeta, Izvestia).

Human rights advocates: anti-terror campaign in Moscow targets ethnic Chechens: Human rights advocates said yesterday that following the Moscow hostage crisis last October, Moscow police have targeted ethnic Chechens detaining them for identity checks and fingerprinting and often framing them for crimes (The Moscow Times).

30 januari 2003

PACE does not call for postponement of Chechen referendum: Yesterday PACE adopted a resolution on the situation in Chechnya, which contains no direct suggestion that Russia postpone a referendum on the Chechen constitution. According to the approved document, PACE supports the intention to hold the referendum on 23 March, as originally planned, but voices concern that the necessary conditions may not be ensured by the set date. Earlier in the day, head of Russian delegation at PACE Rogozin had said that the Chechen settlement would continue without PACE if the latter should call for a postponement of the referendum (Interfax, Kommersant, Nezavisimaya gazeta, Izvestia, Vedomosti, Rossiyskaya gazeta, Vremya novostei).

Security Council to consider situation in Chechnya: The Russian Security Council will consider the current situation in Chechnya and prospects for the settlement at its session today (Interfax).

Kommersant carries an article “Dmitry Rogozin sacrificed Chechnya for Kaliningrad” by Vladimir Vodo. The article reports that last night presidential envoy for the Kaliningrad issue Rogozin left Strasbourg, where he led the Russian delegation at the PACE session, for Vilnius to discuss plans of Lithuania to introduce new rules for Kaliningrad transit as from 1 February. According to the paper, the issue of recognizing birth certificates as valid transit documents has been resolved. Now, of particular concern is the plan of Lithuania to exclude military certificates from the list of valid transit documents, as it may seriously hinder the travel for Russian military servicemen. The article also informs about urgent measures taken by Russia with a view to issue passports to the military: at the week before last it was reported that 95% of Baltic Fleet servicemen do not have foreign travel passports, and only 20% have domestic passports, while yesterday it was announced that the number of domestic passport holders within the same group of people reached 85%. However, the problem is still unresolved, therefore Russia requested that Lithuania does not impose this restriction. This issue is also addressed in Novye izvestia, Novaya gazeta and Vremya novostei.

Novye izvestia reports that despite urgent measures, many military servicemen in Kaliningrad will not be able to get Russian passports on time. This group of people includes students of military universities who turned 20 (a new passport is to be issued but it could be done only in the regions they come from), and many others. According the daily, every sixth military servicemen in the region does not have any passport at the moment. The article criticises Rogozin, Kasyanov and Putin for taking no action to remedy the situation. The article by Valery Gromak is entitled “I want to go to Russia, home”.

Parlamentskaya gazeta reports that yesterday the Federation Council sent an enquiry to Prime Minister Kasyanov requesting information on the measures being taken by the government to issue foreign travel passports to residents of the Kaliningrad region. According to the article, as of today, only 30 percent of Kaliningraders have foreign travel passports, while passport services of the region do not have the necessary amount of passport forms. The article is entitled “The life of foreign travel passport to be prolonged”.

Novye izvestia reports in an article “Poland for EU. But against abortions” by Alexandre Ivanitsky that Poland does not intend to adapt its legislation on abortions to EU norms.

70% Chechens support referendum?: Izvestia reports that according to an opinion poll held by Grozny polling institute “Ala” among 1000 residents of all Chechen districts in December - January, 71.5% of Chechens support the upcoming referendum on the Chechen constitution, while 6.4% voice a negative attitude towards it (Izvestia).

31 januari 2003

Lord Judd announces his resignation: Yesterday Lord Judd announced his resignation as Co-Chairman of PACE-Duma working group on Chechnya, following the negative reaction by PACE to his proposal on the delay of the constitutional referendum in Chechnya. Kommersant calls this news “a sensation, which will drastically change relations between Russia and the Council of Europe” and can put an end to the “era of squabbling between the West and Russia over the Chechen issue”. Interfax quotes Chairman of Duma’s International Affairs Committee Rogozin as saying that the Duma-PACE working group on Chechnya may cease to exist, as it has “outlived its usefulness”. Presidential aide Yastrzhembsky commented that “the main reason for Lord Judd’s resignation is that the political times in Chechnya have moved forward, and Lord Judd is no longer able to catch up with them”. (Interfax). PACE Bureau will consider Judd’s resignation today (All media).

Russian Security Council discusses Chechen settlement: Yesterday the Russian Security Council discussed the issue of Chechen settlement. It was admitted that “despite the positive dynamics, the reconstruction and the anti-terrorist operation have not normalized the situation in the republic… and have not fully liquidated the rebel network”. Security Council Deputy Secretary Sobolev stated that in future the FSB might transfer control over the anti-terrorist campaign in Chechnya to the Interior Ministry (Interfax, Vremya novostei).

Moscow presents evidence on Chechen extremist groups to Washington: Yesterday Yastrzhembsky, on visit to the U.S., supplied Washington with more evidence for including a number of Chechen extremist groups in a U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations. Vremya MN carries an interview with U.S. Ambassador to Russia Vershbow who says that the inclusion of three Chechen terrorist organizations in the list is only “a procedural matter, which will take a couple of days” (Interfax, Vremya MN, Rossiyskaya gazeta).

Moscow presents evidence on Chechen extremist groups to Washington: Yesterday Yastrzhembsky, on visit to the U.S., supplied Washington with more evidence for including a number of Chechen extremist groups in a U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations. Vremya MN carries an interview with U.S. Ambassador to Russia Vershbow who says that the inclusion of three Chechen terrorist organizations in the list is only “a procedural matter, which will take a couple of days” (Interfax, Vremya MN, Rossiyskaya gazeta).

GroenDe enige partij die sociaal én milieuvriendelijk is.

www.groen.be

De Groenen/EVAGroenen en Europese Vrije Alliantie in het Europees Parlement.

www.greens-efa.eu

Sympathisant, ijveraar, pertinente vraag of melding...?