Persoverzicht Tsjetsjenië - juni 2007

4 juni 2007

- Official accuses foreign special services of involvement in Nalchik raid: (i) On Friday in Nalchik, Deputy Interior Minister Arkady Yedelev told journalists that ex-FSB officer Litvinenko, who died in London last November, visited Chechnya “via Georgia” “to destroy evidence of Berezovsky’s involvement in financing illegal armed groups and Basayev’s contacts”. According to Yedelev, “there is evidence that the organisers of the armed raid on Nalchik in 2005 had contacts with Western special services”. Press notes that Yedelev’s statements came a day after the press conference of businessmen Lugovoi and Kovtun, at which they claimed that Litvinenko maintained contacts with North Caucasus terrorists. (ii) Media quote Foreign Minister Lavrov as saying that Britain uses the Litvinenko case for “a political campaign”. (iii) Izvestia publishes a lengthy interview with Lugovoi, who is named by British prosecutors the chief suspect in Litvinenko’s poisoning. Gazeta, Interfax, RG, RIAN, Izvestia)

- Ethnic violence in Stavropol?: Press reports on the killing over the weekend in Stavropol of two Russian students. Kommersant writes that one of the versions of the killing was revenge for the killing of a Chechen student in a brawl on 24 May between local residents and people from the Caucasus. The authorities, however, dismissed suggestions that the conflict was ethnically motivated. (Gazeta, Kommersant, RG, Interfax)

5 juni 2007

- New ethnic conflict in Stavropol?: Dailies report on developments in Stavropol after two ethnic Russian students were killed over the weekend and amid fears of a repetition in the city of the last year’s Kondopoga ethnically motivated riots. Officials dismissed the suggestion that the killings were committed to avenge the earlier killing in a brawl of a Chechen man. At the same time, Stavropol law enforcement agencies have stepped up efforts to ensure order. (Gazeta, Kommersant, MT, NG, Novye Izvestia)

6 juni 2007

- Chechnya seeks tax-free regime: The Chechen Parliament submitted to the Duma a draft bill relieving the republic for the next 7 years of all the taxes to the federal Government (except in the oil sector, the power sector, production and trade of alcohol, and air and railway transport), and permitting paying half of such taxes in the following 7 years, as well as proclaiming Chechnya a free customs zone. The attached explanatory note says that 80% of the Chechen population is unemployed, Chechnya’s GDP per capita is 10 times lower than Russia’s GDP per capita, and that the Chechen per capita industrial output is 8 times lower than Russia’s average figure. Duma deputies and Government officials cited by Vedomosti object the proposal referring to the already adopted federal programmes for rehabilitation of Chechnya and negative experience of granting various preferential statuses in the 90th. (Vedomosti, VN)

9 juni 2007

- New youth movement in Chechnya: Kommersant reports on a founding congress of the first official youth movement in Chechnya called the ‘Ramzan’ patriotic club. (Kommersant)

14 juni 2007

- Refugee camp to be closed in Grozny; camp for Ingush refugees closed in N. Ossetia: (i) According to Gazeta, a camp in Grozny which provides shelter to 188 refugees from different districts of Chechnya will be closed on the instructions of Chechen authorities. (ii) Dailies report that North Ossetian authorities have closed an impromptu settlement of Ingush refugees in Maiskoye (North Ossetia) where the refugees have lived since 1992. (Gazeta, Kommersant, Novye Izvestia)

- Justices of the Peace to be set up in Chechnya: The Federation Council has approved a bill introducing Justices of the Peace in Chechnya. Novye Izvestia notes that 1 January 2010, when jury trials are planned to be introduced in Chechnya, might become not only the date of Chechnya’s returning to Russia’s judicial space, but also the date of restoring the death penalty in Russia. In this context, the daily refers to the 1999 Russian Constitutional Court’s ruling not to sentence people to death until the jury trial system is introduced everywhere in Russia. (Novye Izvestia, PG)

15 juni 2007

- Defendants in high-profile ‘Ulman case’ convicted: The North Caucasus District Military Court yesterday sentenced to prison terms ranging from 9 to 14 years four defendants in the long-running ‘Ulman case’ on the murder by a group of special task force servicemen led by Cap. Eduard Ulman of six civilians in Chechnya in 2002. Three of the four defendants, including Ulman, who went missing in April have been convicted in absentia. The verdict followed two previous acquittals by juries. Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov said the verdict was objective. The head of the Memorial human rights group, Oleg Orlov, called the verdict important, but added that “nevertheless, there are many other wartime crimes in Chechnya in which those responsible have yet to be brought to justice”. Meanwhile, member of the Public Chamber, Anatoly Kucherena, expressed the view that different verdicts in one and the same case “damage the authority of the Russian justice system”, Kommersant quotes him as saying. (Gazeta, Interfax, Kommersant, MT, NG, Novye Izvestia, RIAN, Trud, VN)

- Lawmakers say Stavropol riots were non-racial: A Parliamentary commission has established that a brawl in Stavropol in late May in which a Chechen was killed, sparking protests and violence, was non-racial. The media recall that the brawl in the city was viewed as an ethnically-motivated conflict between ethnic Russians and people from the Caucasus. Soon after the brawl, the killing of two ethnic Russian students led to an unsanctioned protest. (Gazeta, Kommersant, RIAN, VN)

19 juni 2007

- Defence Ministry losses in Chechnya growing: Nezavisimaya gazeta, in a front-page article, reports on a growing number of losses in the Russian armed forces in Chechnya. According to the Defence Ministry’s official data, 30 military servicemen died in Chechnya in January-May 2007. The daily points out that the number of military losses in Chechnya for the whole 2006 stood at 57 servicemen. (NG)

- Sentence in ‘Ulman case’ appealed: Defence lawyers for the four men convicted in the high-profile ‘Ulman case’ on the murder of six civilians in Chechnya have filed an appeal with the Supreme Court. The North Caucasus District Military Court pronounced its guilty verdict in the case last week and convicted in absentia three out of the four defendants, including Cap. Eduard Ulman. (Interfax, VN)

20 juni 2007

- UN official cites improved humanitarian situation in N. Caucasus: The head of the UN Refugee Agency’s office in the Northern Caucasus, Jo Hegenauer, told the press that the humanitarian situation in the Northern Caucasus has improved, but added that the region still needs humanitarian aid. Another UN official, UNHCR Deputy Representative in Russia, Dennis Blair, is quoted as saying at a press conference yesterday in Moscow that Chechnya has no more humanitarian crisis. At the same time, he stressed that Russia had 15,805 displaced people from Chechnya. (Interfax)

22 juni 2007

- Chechen President’s term will be extended for one year: Dailies report that the Chechen Constitutional Assembly yesterday supported Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov’s proposal to prolong the terms of office of Chechnya’s President and Parliament to five years from the current four. The decision will be put up for a Chechen referendum. Kommersant does not exclude that another motion – to scrap the limit for the number of Chechen President’s terms of office – might also be put up for the plebiscite. ”Should such a decision be endorsed, Ramzan Kadyrov would have a good chance to become a lifetime President of Chechnya”, Kommersant writes. (Gazeta, Kommersant, VN)

- ECHR rules against Russia in killings in Chechnya case: The European Court of Human Rights yesterday found Russian authorities responsible for the killings of four members of a Chechen family in 2003 and ordered the Russian Government to pay a relative 85,000 euros. The Court ruled Russia failed to properly investigate the killings in a Chechen village. (MT, VN)

25 juni 2007

- Special task servicemen led by Cap. Ulman kidnapped?: Kommersant reports that prosecutors in Rostov-on-Don are examining a theory that Cap. Eduard Ulman and two his subordinates might have been kidnapped by relatives or friends of the six Chechens killed by the servicemen in 2002. The daily recalls that all three servicemen were sentenced earlier to long prison terms in absentia and are on the wanted list. (Kommersant)

27 juni 2007

- Report on torture in Russia: Gazeta reports on a book on torture in Russia presented yesterday in Moscow, which contains reports by the UN Committee against Torture, the Russian Foreign Ministry and human rights advocates. The daily mentions that the UN Committee against Torture paid special attention to cases of torture in the so called Second Operational Investigative Bureau (ORB-2) in Chechnya. (Gazeta)

28 juni 2007

- Chechen President meets OIC ambassadors: Meeting in Grozny ambassadors from some 30 Muslim countries – members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Arab League, - Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov called on them to participate in investment projects in Chechnya. (MT)

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