11 januari 2005
- Turkish PM arrives in Moscow: Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan began his three-day visit to Russia yesterday with a meeting with President Putin at a residence of the Russian President outside Moscow. Opening the talks yesterday, Putin stressed that the discussion would focus on bilateral relations and international issues of mutual concern. According to media reports, one key issue is likely to be the support among many Turks for Chechen rebels, as well as Turkey’s bid to join the EU. Erdogan is also due to meet with business representatives and to attend the opening of a Turkish trade centre in Moscow. (Interfax, RIA-Novosti, Ekho Moskvy, MT)
- Detention of Maskhadov’s relatives denied: On Sunday, Chechen law enforcement agencies denied media reports that Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhdov’s relatives were detained by federal troops or Chechen law enforcement agencies. Interfax reports that this comment was offered in response to a letter Chechen separatists had sent to the European Parliament claiming that Maskhadov’s relatives had been abducted during a so called mopping-up operation last week. (Interfax, Izvestia, MT)
13 januari 2005
- Tensions between Chechnya, Dagestan rise over detention of Ramzan Kadyrov’s sister: The detention of Chechen Deputy Premier Kadyrov’s sister by Dagestani policemen and her release following the arrival of a Chechen security service unit [headed by Ramzan Kadyrov] continues to draw attention. In Nezavisimaya gazeta’s view, the incident may have serious political consequences (Nezavisimaya gazeta, Trud).
14 januari 2005
- Chechen Deputy PM denies involvement in disappearance of Maskhadov’s relatives: Human rights NGO “Memorial” yesterday made public a statement that presents details of the disappearances in Chechnya of eight relatives of Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov, reports Izvestia. According to the statement, they have been allegedly kidnapped by the Chechen President’s security service, headed by Deputy Premier Ramzan Kadyrov. Kadyrov, however, denied this information and ordered an investigation into the case (Izvestia).
17 januari 2005
- Two militant groups exterminated in Dagestan: “Two groups of terrorists that had planned terrorist acts, including the taking of hostages, were exterminated in Makhachkala and Kaspiisk [Dagestan] on Saturday”, reports Izvestia (front page) in an article entitled “Second Beslan prevented in Dagestan”. The paper goes on to say that the first group of terrorists planned to seize a boarding school in Makhachkala on Saturday, while the second group was to attack a school in Kaspiisk today. Noting that the total number of militants that had been sent to Dagestan from Chechnya reached 50 people, Izvestia highlights that six of them have been killed, two detained and the whereabouts and plans of the rest are unknown. Vremya novostei (front page) adds that it has so far been impossible to identify the bodies of the killed militants as a tank that ‘assisted’ the special forces had levelled to the ground the house where the militants were staying (All media).
- Former Chechen Deputy President detained: According to Kommersant, former Chechen Deputy President Vakhu Arsanov [in former Chechen President Maskhadov’s administration] was detained in Grozny yesterday. The paper does not exclude, however, that Arsanov surrendered voluntarily, “as he had reportedly not taken part in the second Chechen war” (Kommersant).
18 januari 2005
- Chechen woman convicted for planning a terrorist attack: The Moscow City Court yesterday sentenced a Chechen woman, Zara Murtazaliyeva, to nine years in prison on charges of conspiring to carry out a terrorist attack in Moscow, recruiting two Russian women to act as suicide bombers, and acquiring explosives (All media).
- Special services warn of new terrorist attacks: “Russian special services have information indicating that Chechen separatist leaders Aslan Maskhadov and Shamil Basayev have ordered new large-scale terrorist attacks to be carried out in the republics of North Caucasus”, reports Izvestia (front page). The paper further recalls that two groups of terrorists had planned to seize schools in Dagestan last weekend, and that, although those acts were prevented, “a terrorist threat remains”. In the paper’s view, this information deserves attention, as Russian special services issue such warnings very rarely. Gazeta reports that the body of terrorist leader Rasul Makasharipov, whose grouping is believed to be responsible for murdering dozens of Dagestani policemen, was identified among the militants killed in Dagestan last weekend (Izvestia, Interfax, Gazeta).
19 januari 2005
- FSB reports on outflow of foreign mercenaries from the Caucasus: Reporting on yesterday’s press conference of FSB spokesman Sergey Ignatchenko, Rossiyskya gazeta (front page) highlights Ignatchenko’s statement that the number of terrorist leaders operating in Chechnya has shrunk to about 10, and the number of foreign mercenaries fighting in the republic has also fallen, from 2,500 to 3000 in the year 2000 to 200 last summer and 60 this winter (Rossiyskaya gazeta, Interfax).
- Chechen draft of power-sharing agreement completed: Chairman of the Chechen State Council Taus Dzhabrailov announced yesterday that the drafting of a power-sharing agreement between the federal and Chechen authorities had been completed in Chechnya. He said that the commission members agreed from the start not to include provisions dealing with political issues in the draft agreement. “We need economic concessions, not political autonomy”, he said, according to Interfax. Kommersant highlights that the Chechen draft envisages, in particular, the allocation to the republic of multi-billion sums for compensation payments to the victims of Stalinist repressions (Interfax, Kommersant, Izvestia).
24 januari 2005
- Putin addresses prosecutors’ meeting: President Putin, PM Fradkov, as well as the Interior Minister and the FSB chief, on Friday attended an expanded meeting of senior officials of the Prosecutor General’s office. Kommersant (front page) says that a report by Prosecutor General Ustinov at the meeting contained no mentioning of either the Beslan tragedy investigation, or of the crimes in Chechnya, but for ‘a tragic disappearance’ of a helicopter engine. Vremya novostei notes that the ‘important guests’ were reserved in the assessment of prosecutors’ work – there was neither ‘damning criticism’ nor praise. Gazeta highlights that the President singled out the fight against terrorism in Russia and abroad as the task for the Prosecutor General’s office for this year. The media emphasise Putin’s words that “a series of terrorist attacks, organised and carried out by international criminal groups last year, point to the necessity of serious restructuring in the security sphere” (All media)
26 januari 2005
- Chechen leadership slam separatist ideologue’s statement: Chechen Deputy PM Ziyad Sabsabi has commented on a recent statement by Chechen separatist ideologue Movladi Udugov who accused Russia of inability to maintain stability in the North Caucasus and criticised the West for an intention “to break up the Chechen resistance”. According to Sabsabi, Udugov, who, in his words, has been ‘forgotten altogether’, is trying to make his presence felt. Udugov’s statement is related to PACE’s initiative to hold a round table on Chechen settlement (Moscow, early March) (Kommersant, Interfax, Novye Izvestia).
28 februari 2005
- Chechen president to form own guard: Referring to a senior officer in the Russian Interior Ministry’s Chief Department for the Southern Federal District, the media report that a presidential guard department is being formed to protect Chechen President Alu Alkhanov and his family. Observers argue that the new department will significantly weaken the influence of the Chechen security service headed by 1st Chechen Deputy Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov. (Interfax, Kommersant, Vremya novostei)
- Russian refugees from Chechnya demand equal rights with Chechens: In a front-page article, today’s Izvestia report that a group of former Russian residents of Grozny, capital of Chechnya, sent a letter to President Putin demanding recognition of massive genocide of ethnic Russians in Chechnya in 1991-1994 and equal rights with Chechens as far as compensation payments for the destroyed housing is concerned. The authors of the letter accused the European Court for Human Rights of biased position, claiming that the Court “does not notice the fact of genocide of the non-Chechen population. (Izvestia)