Persoverzicht Tsjetsjenië april 2003

1 april 2003

- Media on war in Iraq: (i) Nezavisimaya gazeta reports about the difficulties the U.S.-led forces came across in Iraq and stresses that the military operation in Iraq gradually begins to look like the Chechen war. Izvestia notes in a front-page article that U.S.-led forces are beginning to apply the tactics used by Russian federal forces in Chechnya. (ii) Several dailies analyse various consequences of the war in Iraq. Gazeta estimates Russia’s losses due to the war in Iraq at $ 50 billion. Nezavisimaya gazeta laments that the image of U.S. democratic leadership is dead. Kommersant reports that the war in Iraq might have unpredictable consequences for the UK and its government. Izvestia comments that due to the war, the prospects of Aznar’s People’s Party are becoming increasingly gloomy. (iii) Konservator tries to look at the roots of the war and claims that “the aggressiveness of America comes not from stupidity but from fine political calculation. Its addressee is Europe”. (iv) Marking 1 April, Izvestia publishes anecdotes about the war. One of them reads: “Question at a news conference: ‘Mr Bush, do you have any proof that Iraq has obtained WMD?’ Bush: ‘Yes, we kept the receipts confirming the payment”.

- Draft law on amnesty in Chechnya likely to be ready for Duma’s consideration next week: Nezavisimaya gazeta reports that a draft law on amnesty in Chechnya is likely to be ready for Duma’s consideration next week. According to the daily, the draft will contain about 20 articles enumerating those crimes, for which perpetrators will not be amnestied (Nezavisimaya gazeta, Gazeta).

- PACE to discuss Chechnya on 2 April: Interfax reports that PACE will discuss Chechnya as a separate issue at its session on 2 April. A resolution and a recommendation on the issue will be adopted. Interfax quotes head of Federation Council’s International Affairs Committee Margelov as saying that Tadeusz Iwinski, head of PACE Commission on Migration, may be appointed new PACE rapporteur on Chechnya (Interfax).

2 april 2003

- Chechen constitution comes into force, Kadyrov becomes acting Chechen President: Yesterday the constitution of Chechnya, adopted at the 23 March referendum, came into force. Head of Chechen Administration Kadyrov became acting Chechen President. Interfax quotes Kadyrov as saying that corresponding structural changes will be made soon. Kommersant reports that Kadyrov announced his decision to head the Chechen commission on compensation payments. According to the daily, control over big compensation allocations from the federal budget will give Kadyrov decisive advantages over other candidates at the presidential elections in Chechnya (All media).

- U.S. report on human rights sharply criticised: Following the presentation of the U.S. human rights report criticising inter alia the situation in Russia, Russia’s Press Ministry issued a statement saying that “the Ministry takes with sarcasm attempts by the U.S. State Department to describe Russia as a country without a free press”. The Moscow Times points out that the report was for the first time critical of Chechen rebels while in the previous reports only Russian federal forces were criticized over Chechnya. Vremya novostei quotes presidential human rights envoy Pamfilova as saying that the U.S. had no moral right to present such a report under the present circumstances (Interfax, The Moscow Times, Vremya novostei, Kommersant).

3 april 2003

- PACE calls for creation of a special tribunal for Chechnya: Yesterday PACE adopted a resolution calling to consider the creation of a special tribunal for military crimes and crimes against humanity in Chechnya. Interfax reports that MID voiced disappointment with the resolution stressing that “by taking this step, PACE has denied Chechnya’s realities”. Reacting to the resolution, head of Duma’s International Affairs Committee Rogozin proposed to cut Russia’s contribution to the Council of Europe. He also stressed that in the future “Russia will not consult with PACE on the political settlement in Chechnya” (All media).

4 april 2003

- Bus blast in Grozny claims lives of 8 people: All media report about a passenger bus blast in Grozny yesterday claiming the lives of 8 people. Some 30 people were wounded. An explosive device went off when the bus carrying construction workers was crossing a Grozny street. Interfax quotes head of Chechen Administration Kadyrov as saying that opponents to peace in Chechnya are behind the terrorist act (All media).

- Officials, media criticize PACE resolution on Chechnya: Russian officials and media continue to comment on Wednesday’s PACE resolution, which called for the creation of a special tribunal for Chechnya. Interfax quotes a Foreign Ministry report as saying that the resolution “raises profound surprise”. According to the report, PACE ignored the results of the Chechen referendum. Duma Chairman Seleznyov said that a number of PACE members “tried to blackmail the Russian delegation, promising to soften their position on Chechnya if Russian parliamentarians supported a PACE resolution on Iraq”. Presidential aide Yastrzhembsky described the resolution as legally pointless and politically harmful. Trud points out that the resolution contradicts present-day realities in Chechnya (Trud, Vremya novostei, Interfax).

7 april 2003

- EU Troika ambassadors, EP delegation to visit Chechnya; future of Duma-PACE group on Chechnya: (i) Interfax reports that EU Troika ambassadors will visit Ingushetia and Chechnya on 7-9 April (Interfax, Kommersant). (ii) Interfax quotes head of Duma’s International Affairs Committee Rogozin as saying that an EP delegation is likely to visit the North Caucasus including Chechnya in the near future. (iii) Interfax quotes head of Federation Council’s International Affairs Committee Margelov as saying that the future of the Duma-PACE working group on Chechnya, which suspended its work after the resignation of its co-chairman Judd, will be decided in June. Margelov stressed that the working group’s format should be changed.

- Chechen Interior Minister resigns: Chechen Interior Minister announced his resignation last week. Interfax quotes the head of Chechen Administration, Kadyrov, as saying that he had expressed dissatisfaction with the operation of the Chechen police many times. President Putin appointed Tsakayev to the post in December in an attempt to demonstrate that federal authorities were handing over police functions to Chechens themselves. According to Interfax, Tsakayev will be transferred to a different post in Moscow in the near future (Interfax, Izvestia, The Moscow Times).

- Three mass graves discovered in Chechnya: Three mass graves with maimed male bodies were discovered in Chechnya. Criminal investigations were opened. It is unclear as yet whether the dead were civilians, militants or federal troops (Interfax, The Moscow Times).

8 april 2003

- Car explosion in Chechnya kills 8 people: Yesterday a car exploded in Grozny killing five law enforcement officers and three civilians. The vehicle exploded after hitting a land mine (Vremya novostei, The Moscow Times, Izvestia).

- Five checkpoints to be closed in Chechnya: Interfax reports that the Combined Federal Forces command decided to close five checkpoints in the plain areas of Chechnya. Chechnya’s military commandant Abrashin is quoted as saying that the decision was made due to the normalization of the situation in the republic (Interfax).

9 april 2003

- EU Troika ambassadors visit North Caucasus: Interfax reports about the visit of the EU Troika Ambassadors to the North Caucasus. According to secretary of the Chechen Security Council Dudayev, “EU representatives have confirmed solid positive changes in the republic”. Interfax also quotes Greek Ambassador Paraskevopoulos as saying that the recent constitutional referendum will be the first substantial step towards restoring the republic’s economy and advancing a political settlement (Interfax).

- Chechen issue and international bodies: (i) Media report that yesterday the EU and seven non-EU states submitted a resolution to the UN Human Rights Commission condemning human rights violations in Chechnya. ITAR-TASS quotes Chair of Duma’s International Affairs Committee Rogozin as saying that “different international organizations continue to speculate on Russia’s problems in Chechnya, trying to render support to the defeated side” (Izvestia, The Moscow Times, ITAR-TASS). (ii) In an article published by Trud, Rogozin writes that, following the tough PACE resolution on Chechnya, “the Chechen dossier will be closed for PACE”. Moreover, according to Rogozin, a decision was taken to cut the Russian contribution to the CoE by half and to spend the released funds on the economic rebuilding of the Chechen republic.

- The Moscow Times publishes an article entitled “EU accuses Russia of Chechen abuses” by Jonathan Fowler (See Political headlines).

11 april 2003

- Budanov trial to begin on 21 April: Interfax reports that a new trial of the well-known case of colonel Budanov, who is charged with the murder of a Chechen girl, will begin on 21 April.

14 april 2003

- Moscow rally against war in Chechnya: On Saturday, several hundred people gathered in the centre of Moscow to protest against the war in Chechnya. According to The Moscow Times, the number of protestors reached 1,500 people. The rally war organized by the Memorial society, the PEN-centre and by the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers. As Interfax puts it, many of those present at the rally were just “observing events”. Several speakers addressing the rally urged the Russian authorities to settle the conflict by political means (Interfax, The Moscow Times, Kommersant).

15 april 2003

- Presidential elections in Chechnya to be put off until next spring?: Vremya novostei reports that presidential elections in Chechnya, originally scheduled for December 2003, may be put off till next spring. The daily quotes Chechen Prime Minister Popov as saying that presidential elections are too important to be combined with elections to the Duma. According to the daily, head of Chechen Administration Kadyrov and Federal Minister for Chechnya Ilyasov also support the idea (Vremya novostei).

- Kadyrov denies large-scale executions of civilians in Chechnya: Yesterday Head of Chechen Administration Kadyrov dismissed foreign press reports about large-scale executions in Chechnya. He stressed that the figures recently presented by Le Monde “are obviously exaggerated, and the facts are dubious” (Interfax, Izvestia, Gazeta).

- Kadyrov names new Chechen Interior Minister: Izvestia reports that Head of Chechen Administration Kadyrov named Alu Alkhanov as his candidate to the post of Chechen Interior Minister. According to Kadyrov, Putin’s decree approving the appointment is expected in the near future (Izvestia).

16 april 2003

- Duma to consider amnesty in May: According to Duma Chairman Seleznyov, quoted by Interfax, the Duma plans to consider a draft amnesty resolution on Chechnya as early as mid-May. Interfax also quotes Chechen Security Council Secretary Dudayev as saying that the preparations for amnesty in Chechnya have entered a final phase (Interfax, Izvestia).

- MID criticises EU-proposed UN resolution on Chechnya: Interfax quotes Foreign Ministry sources as condemning the resolution on human rights in Chechnya submitted by the EU last week to the UN HR Commission in Geneva. Interfax notes that if passed, the resolution will become “an unnecessary obstacle to settlement in Chechnya, which will not, however, prevent Russia from giving priority to its own interests on this matter”.

- Sultygov: no mass killings in Chechnya; investigation commission to be set up; Chechen Prosecutor admits military involved in kidnapping: (i) Presidential envoy for human rights in Chechnya Sultygov called recent reports of Western media about mass killings in Chechnya a provocation. He stressed that this action is aimed at “discrediting the referendum and the judicial system in Chechnya and thwarting the amnesty” (Interfax, The Moscow Times). (ii) Interfax quotes Sultygov as saying that a national commission in charge of investigating crimes in Chechnya will be established after presidential elections in the republic. (iii) Nezavisimaya gazeta reports in a front-page article entitled “Scandalous confession of the republic’s prosecutor” about a confidential report by Chechen Prosecutor Kravchenko, which partially confirms the critical publications of Western media regarding the situation in Chechnya. According to the daily, the military were involved in some 300 cases of kidnappings in Chechnya.

17 april 2003

- UN rejects EU-proposed resolution on Chechnya: Yesterday the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva rejected the EU-proposed resolution on the human rights situation in Chechnya. Interfax quotes an official of the Russian Foreign Ministry as calling the rejection “a triumph of common sense”. Izvestia believes it is paradoxical that Russian efforts on the Chechen settlement are supported internationally at the highest level, but when it comes to resolutions, Moscow has to take defence positions (Interfax, Izvestia, The Moscow Times, Vremya novostei).

- Russia requests extradition of Chechen rebel Udugov from Turkey: Yesterday the Office of Prosecutor General sent a second request asking Turkey to detain and extradite Chechen separatist leader Udugov. The previous request was filed last summer, but the Turkish Justice Ministry failed to respond to it (Interfax).

18 april 2003

- FM Ivanov opposes double standards in human rights: Speaking at a roundtable conference yesterday, Foreign Minister Ivanov reiterated Russia’s opposition to “any double standards in the area of human rights”. He stressed that Russia “cannot share the stance of certain countries which voice ‘concern’ over the human rights situation in Chechnya and turn a deaf ear to the state of the Russian-speaking population in Latvia and Estonia” (Interfax).

- 240,000 roubles in compensation for loss of housing to be paid in Chechnya: Kommersant quotes Chechen Prime Minister Popov as saying that the ceiling on compensation for the loss of housing as a result of hostilities in Chechnya will be 240,000 roubles (about €7,300). According to the daily, only those residing in the republic will be able to get the compensation. Rossiyskaya gazeta publishes an interview with Popov (Kommersant, Interfax, Rossiyskaya gazeta).

- Georgia extradites Chechen rebel to Russia: Interfax reports that Georgia extradited to Russia Amirkhad Lidigov, one of 13 rebels detained by Georgian border guards in August 2002 on the Russian-Georgian border. Five rebels had already been extradited to Russia. Other six are still being held in a Tbilisi prison (Interfax, Vremya novostei).

21 april 2003

- Audit Chamber: 366 million roubles misspent in Chechnya: Kommersant quotes Audit Chamber chairman Stepashin as saying that 366 million roubles (about € 11 million) from the funds allocated for the Chechen restoration were misspent. The audit results will be sent to the Office of the Chechen Prosecutor (Kommersant, Vremya MN, Nezavisimaya gazeta, Vremya novostei).

- New Chechen Interior Minister appointed Ali Alkhanov, former head of the Grozny interior office for transport, was appointed new Chechen Interior Minister. Kommersant comments that his career will prove to be successful, as he is a nominee of Chechen Administration head Kadyrov (Kommersant, Interfax, Izvestia, Vremya novostei, Gazeta).

22 april 2003

- Command of anti-terrorist operation in Chechnya to be transferred to Interior Ministry this year: Interfax quotes Deputy Interior Minister Tikhomirov as saying that the command of the antiterrorist operation in Chechnya is to be transferred from the FSB to the Interior Ministry this year (Interfax).

- Budanov re-trial begins in Rostov: Yesterday a military court in Rostov-on-Don began a re-trial of colonel Budanov accused of killing a Chechen girl. Media note the plaintiff’s attempts to delay the trial and turn it into “a political battleground”. Yesterday the plaintiff continued challenging the make up of the court panel (All media).

25 april 2003

- Chechen officials call for resisting abductions: The Chechen Security Council met yesterday to discuss the problem of abductions. Council’s head Rudnik Dudayev is quoted as criticizing the behaviour of federal servicemen and the Chechen police, which he believes are responsible for the illegal detention and disappearance of many people. Dudayev also proposed the creation of a federal inter-agency commission to investigate such crimes. The article in Kommersant is entitled “If we are Russian citizens, why don’t you protect us?” (Kommersant, Interfax).

29 april 2003

- Kadyrov calls for increase in compensation payments: Kommersant reports that head of Chechen Administration Kadyrov called for an increase in announced compensation payments to residents of Chechnya for loss of housing from a maximum of 240,000 to 420,000 roubles per family. Kommersant quotes federal minister for Chechnya Ilyasov as saying that an increase in funding cannot be provided. In the meantime, according to Interfax, news about upcoming compensation payments considerably increased the flow of refugees voluntarily returning from Ingushetia to Chechnya (Kommersant, Interfax).

30 april 2003

- Budanov admits murdering Chechen girl: During his ongoing retrial, yesterday Colonel Budanov accused of murdering a Chechen girl confessed to the charges and refused to undergo a new forensic medical examination (All media).

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