Persoverzicht Tsjetsjenië - Juli 2004

2 juli 2004

- Chechen Interior Minister to chair public compensation control council: Alu Alkhanov, Chechen Interior Minister and a presidential candidate, was elected yesterday as chairman of a public council that will control the payment of compensations for lost housing in the republic. The 50-person council includes authors, athletes, cultural figures, lawyers, and other public figures (Interfax).

5 juli 2004

- Chechen warlord Basayev says rebels will not attack abroad: Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev said in a rare television statement broadcast by Al Jazeera that rebels would not target Russian officials abroad and insisted their battle was solely against the Moscow government. Interfax quotes spokesman for the federal forces in Chechnya Ilya Shabalkin as saying that Basayev’s videotape was aimed at drawing attention to the rebels in a bid to raise more money. Kommersant interprets Basayev’s statement as an indication that Chechen rebels are preparing new terrorist attacks in Russia. According to the daily, “the FSB fears that the terrorists will try to stage an attack similar to the Nord Ost [hostage] seizure” (All media).

6 juli 2004

- Restrictions on night transportation introduced in Grozny: Kommersant reports that temporary restrictions on the movement of transport during the night have been re-introduced in the Chechen capital with a view to preventing incidents similar to the recent rebel raids in Ingushetia. The paper recalls that the restrictions had been lifted after the Chechen presidential election in October 2003. According to the daily, human rights advocates interpret the re-introduction of restrictions as an attempt by the military to restore control over Grozny and “to perform night mop-up operations without witnesses” (Kommersant, Interfax).

7 juli 2004

- Government to provide additional 2.8 billion roubles for Chechnya’s restoration: Kommersant reports in an article entitled “Alu Alkhanov got money for election” that addressing a meeting on Chechnya’s restoration yesterday, Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov promised to allocate an additional 2.8 billion roubles to restore Chechnya’s economic and social sectors. The daily highlights that it was Alu Alkhanov, the Chechen Interior Minister and the Kremlin’s ‘favourite’ in the upcoming Chechen presidential election, who informed the press about the decision. Vremya novostei reports on the issue under the headline “The financing of restoration is growing but its efficiency is falling” (Kommersant, Interfax, Vremya novostei, Gazeta).

- Chechen Interior Minister: talks with Maskhadov impossible: Kommersant reports on a recent interview by Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov published by a separatist web site, in which Maskhadov threatened a “doubling and tripling” of military actions unless peace negotiations are launched. Interfax quotes Chechen Interior Minister Alu Alkhanov as saying that it would be impossible to hold any kind of talks with Maskhadov and Basayev. “I see neither the participants in nor the agenda for such talks”, he said (Kommersant, Interfax, Rossiyskaya gazeta).

12 juli 2004

- Editor of Russian Forbes assassinated in Moscow: Most Russian dailies carry front-page articles reporting that Paul Khlebnikov, the American editor of the new Russian edition of Forbes magazine, was shot dead on Friday evening in Moscow. Investigators link the murder to Khlebnikov’s professional activities. For years he investigated the dealings of Russia’s reach and powerful and authored a book on controversial businessmen Boris Berezovsky entitled “Godfather of the Kremlin: Boris Berezovsky and the Looting of Russia”. Khlebnikov’s last book, “Conversation with a Barbarian”, reports on his conversations with Chechen rebel commander Nukhayev. According to Kommersant, the latter book gave rise to serious dissatisfaction in the Chechen community. Izvestia has published the last interview Khlebnikov gave to the daily seven hours before his death (All media).

- Upcoming events: (i) Gela Bezhuashvili, secretary of the Georgian Security Council, will arrive in Moscow today to discuss the situation in South Ossetia (Kommersant). (ii) Armenian Prime Minister Andranik Markaryan will arrive in Moscow today on an official visit (Kommersant). (iii) 14 July is the deadline for the submission of documents by potential Chechen presidential candidates (Kommersant).

14 juli 2004

- Acting Chechen President survives in bomb attack: Most Russian dailies report in front-page articles that acting Chechen President Sergey Abramov narrowly escaped injury in a bomb attack in the Chechen capital yesterday. The bomb exploded on a roadside as Abramov’s convoy was passing by. One of Abramov’s guards was killed in the explosion. Kommersant quotes Chechen Prosecutor Kravchenko, who blames the military for their failure to properly protect roads even in the republic’s capital (All media).

- Rebels step up activities in Chechnya: Gazeta reports in a front-page article that rebels have stepped up their activities in Chechnya in the last few days. According to the daily, 18 members of the Chechen presidential security service were killed in gunfights near the village of Avtury. However, according to Chechen Deputy Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov, only 6 servicemen were killed and 12 others wounded (Kommersant). According to several media sources, 24 rebels were killed in the Avtury gunfights (Gazeta, Kommersant, The Moscow Times, Interfax).

- Chechen children denied Estonian visas: Estonia has refused to issue entry visas to eight Chechen children planning to attend English language courses at a summer camp funded by George Soros. Interfax quotes Estonian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ehtel Halliste as saying that “the visas were denied in compliance with Estonia’s law on foreigners” (Interfax, NTV, Vremya novostei, Rossiyskaya gazeta).

15 juli 2004

- 12 captured Chechen policemen to be exchanged for rebels?: Izvestia reports that 12 Chechen policemen were taken hostage by rebels during their recent attack on the Chechen village of Avtury. According to the daily, rebels may try to release the captured policemen in exchange for the participants in the recent raids on Ingushetia who were arrested by the police (Izvestia).

16 juli 2004

- Chechen Interior Minister registered for presidential race: Chechen Interior Minister Alu Alkhanov became the first registered candidate for the 29 August presidential election in Chechnya. Alkhanov, as well as three other potential candidates, had placed an election deposit, while nine other candidates have presented signatures in their support, which are to be verified within ten days (Interfax).

19 juli 2004

- Mobile phones to become more accessible in Chechnya: Vremya novostei reports in a front page article entitled “FSB and GSM – Moscow establishes mobile communication with Chechnya” that GSM mobile telephone networks have become generally accessible in Chechnya, while until recently, less than 2,000 people used mobile phones in Chechnya as a special permission from the FSB was necessary. The daily notes that it was Minister of Communications Leonid Reiman who made this news public at a meeting on the Chechen restoration held in Moscow on Friday (Vremya novostei, Interfax).

- Maskhadov once again threatens with terror: Gazeta reports in an article entitled “Maskhadov threatens Russia with terror again” that Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov has once again threatened that his fighters would spread their war with Moscow into the whole territory of Russia. The paper goes on to say that, in the meantime, rebel raids in Chechnya continue – Tamara Khadzhiyeva, a relative of the well-known Chechen public leader Salambek Khadzhiyev, was murdered on Sunday morning (Gazeta, The Moscow Times, Interfax).

- Spanish embassy denies visas to Chechen dancers: Kommersant reports that the Spanish embassy in Moscow has denied visas to Chechen dancers who had been invited to an international folklore festival. The Spanish side refused to explain the reasons for the visa denial, but the dancers are convinced that it is all about their nationality, informs the daily (Kommersant, Novye izvestia).

20 juli 2004

- Terrorist act in Voronezh claims two lives: A bomb explosion killed two people and injured seven others at a bus stop in the city of Voronezh (South of Russia) yesterday. Prosecutors opened investigations into “terrorism and premeditated murder”. Gazeta (front page) comments that the terrorist act in Voronezh occurred immediately after the threats of Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov who said that his fighters would spread their war with Moscow into the whole territory of Russia (All media).

22 juli 2004

- Kremlin concerned over excessive concentration of power in hands of Kadyrov’s son: Nezavisimaya gazeta links the recent liquidation of the Chechen presidential security service with the Kremlin’s concerns over the excessive concentration of power in the hands of its chief, the son of the late Chechen President Kadyrov. Vremya novostei adds that a Chechen special purpose regiment has been set up instead, which is to fight against terrorists both in Chechnya and in any other Russian region where necessary (Nezavisimaya gazeta, Vremya novostei).

- Ingush policemen involved in June rebel raids: Izvestia (front page) reports that three Ingush policemen have been arrested for having participated in the rebel raids on Ingushetia last month. The daily quotes some unconfirmed reports, according to which one of the arrested policemen has testified that he had recruited at least ten local policemen to join the rebels. Moskovsky komsomolets has published an interview with Beslan Gantamirov, a former member of the Chechen government, who claims that about 2,000 rebels took part in the raids on Ingushetia (Izvestia).

23 juli 2004

- Chechen businessman barred from vote: In what seems to be a repetition of events preceding last year’s presidential election in Chechnya, the Chechen Election Commission refused yesterday to register the candidacy of businessman Malik Saidullayev, the sole real competitor to Kremlin-backed Alu Alkhanov in the upcoming Chechen presidential election. According to Kommersant, Saydullayev was denied registration due to the incorrect indication of his birthplace in the passport. The daily quotes the former Chechen Vice-Premier, Movsar Khamidov, as calling the registration denial “a blow on the Chechen democracy” (Kommersant, Nezavisimaya gazeta, Vremya novostei, The Moscow Times, Gazeta).

26 juli 2004

- Registration of presidential candidates in Chechnya completed: The Chechen Election Commission on Friday completed granting registration to people seeking to run for the Chechen President. The Commission has registered seven candidates, including Chechen Interior Minister Ilu Alkhanov who enjoys the support of the Kremlin. The media note that none of Alkhanov’s opponents pose a serious challenge to him. According to Nezavisimaya gazeta, Alexander Veshnyakov, head of the Central Election Commission, described as “justified” the decision of the Chechen Election Commission to withdraw the major rival of Alkhanov, Malik Saidullayev, from the race. The Moscow Times quotes Aaron Rhodes, executive director of the International Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, as saying that “the Russian authorities are apparently not interested in running a free and fair election in Chechnya” (Interfax, The Moscow Times, Izvestia, Nezavisimaya gazeta).

27 juli 2004

- FSB not ruling out Chechen track of bus stop explosion in Voronezh: The media report that a bomb explosion at a bus stop yesterday in Voronezh (Southern Russia) wounded one person, a week after the 19 July attack at a bus stop had killed a woman. Officials at the Voronezh branch of the Federal Security Service (FSB) do not rule out the theory of the ‘Chechen track’, pointing out that Chechen rebels repeatedly declared Voronezh “a site for staging terrorist attacks”. (RG, Kommersant, Izvestia, Vremya novostei)

28 juli 2004

- Top official confirms that Basayev led Ingushetia raids: Interfax reports that Russian Deputy Prosecutor General Sergey Fridinsky has confirmed that Chechen rebel warlord Shamil Basayev led the recent rebel raids on Ingushetia. One of the videotapes that had appeared on the Internet showed Basayev in a seized weapons depot in Ingushetia. Vremya novostei highlights that another videotape shows Basayev as presenting trophies of his Ingushetia raids to Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov, who usually affirms to the West that Basayev acts “on his own” (Interfax, The Moscow Times, Vremya novostei, Izvestia, Rossiyskaya gazeta, Novye izvestia).

29 juli 2004

- Paper: big Russian cities getting ready for terrorist attacks: Izvestia reports in a front-page article entitled “Big cities are getting ready for terrorist attacks” that the Interior Ministry and the FSB are preparing to deal with a threat by Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev to carry out attacks similar to the recent rebel raids on Ingushetia in big Russian cities. According to the daily, St Petersburg policemen have been instructed about the possibility of a rebel group penetration into the city (Izvestia).

30 juli 2004

- Qatari court leaves life sentence against two Russian citizens unchanged: The Qatari court of appeals left unchanged the life sentence brought against two Russian citizens accused of murdering Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, a former Chechen separatist leader. Interfax quotes the Russian Foreign Ministry as saying that “the persistent efforts to bring our citizens home will be continued”. Izvestia notes that the return of the two Russian convicts to Russia seems to be dealt with at high-level unofficial contacts. The daily recalls that President Putin had a telephone conversation with Qatar’s emir on 23 March, and Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov visited Qatar shortly before the session of the court of appeals (Interfax, Izvestia, Gazeta, Vremya novostei, Nezavisimaya gazeta).

- Moscow Chechen community to support Alu Alkhanov in Chechen presidential election: (i) Interfax reports that during a roundtable discussion yesterday, the Chechen community of Moscow voiced its support for Chechen Interior Minister Alu Alkhanov in the upcoming presidential election in the republic. (ii) Vremya novostei (front page) reports that the Political Council of the United Russia party discussed the Chechen presidential election at its session yesterday. In the paper’s view, the party will undoubtedly support Alkhanov in the election (Interfax, Vremya novostei).

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