Persoverzicht Tsjetsjenië - Maart 2005

1 maart 2005

- US criticises Moscow over human rights: Vremya novostei (front page) reports that the Russian section of the US State Department annual human rights report, released yesterday, describes the judicial persecution of Yukos’ Mikhail Khodorkovsky as ‘politically motivated’, and criticises the Russian authorities for human rights violations in Chechnya, saying that the perpetrators include both Chechen militants and the authorities (Vremya novostei, The Moscow Times).

- Tax inspectors to check Soldiers’ Mothers Committees: Gazeta reports that the tax authorities have started checking the spending of funds by the Soldiers’ Mothers Committees [whose delegation recently visited London to meet Chechen separatist emissary Zakayev]. The paper comments that the check is being held at the initiative of the LDPR parliamentary party which accused the Committees’ representatives of pursuing ‘anti-army activities’ (Gazeta, Interfax).

2 maart 2005

- Ombudsman Lukin delivers annual human rights report: Human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin submitted his annual report on human rights in Russia to President Putin yesterday. Noting that Lukin’s report was issued almost simultaneously with the human rights report prepared by the US State Department, Vremya novostei points to major differences in the two reports – according to Lukin, it is not the cancellation of gubernatorial elections, the Yukos case or Chechnya that represent the most flagrant violations of human rights in Russia, as at least half of the complaints received by his office concern “unresolved social issues”, exacerbated further by the replacement of social benefits and the housing sector reform. Izvestia highlights Lukin’s words that about one third of complaints received by his office are related to the arbitrariness of law enforcement officers. “At the meeting, the President has actually taken under his personal control the investigation of a mass beating of people in Blagoveshchensk by the police”, the paper goes on to say. Interfax adds that the Ombudsman’s office and the Interior Ministry plan to conduct joint inspections soon on the activities of the police in five regions (All media).

- Prosecutor General visits Chechnya: Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov arrived in Chechnya for an inspection visit yesterday. The aim of the visit is to look into abductions in Chechnya. “This is the most important issue – it is being monitored by the President and by the Prosecutor General”, Ustinov is quoted by Interfax as saying. Izvestia reports that official sources have put the number of those abducted in Chechnya last year at 154. However, it is not clear whether eight relatives of Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov that have reportedly been abducted were included into this number, the paper goes on to say (Interfax, Izvestia).

- Protestors call on Britain to extradite Berezovsky, Zakayev: Some 70-80 people took part in an action of protest outside the British Embassy in Moscow yesterday demanding that businessman Boris Berezovsky and Chechen separatist emissary Akhmed Zakayev be extradited from Britain (Interfax, The Moscow Times).

- Nezavisimaya gazeta continues to comment on FM Lavrov’s meeting with EU Troika in Luxembourg on Monday and reports on the first session of an ad hoc group to deal with human rights issues. The paper stresses that the EU tends to interpret the group’s mission in a wide way (including Chechnya) while Moscow prefers to focus on the discrimination of Russian-speaking non-citizens in the Baltic states.

3 maart 2005

- Moscow warns the EU against speculating on Chechnya: Commenting on the first round of consultations on human rights between Russia and the EU, that were held in Luxembourg on Tuesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that “EU officials were provided with detailed information about the human rights situation in Russia”, but were “warned once again that attempts to speculate on the human rights situation in Chechnya are counterproductive and senseless” (Interfax).

- Chechen President wants roundtable on Chechnya to be held in Russia: Chechen President Alu Alkhanov said yesterday that a roundtable discussion on Chechnya under PACE auspices should be held in Russia. It was originally planned that the roundtable would be held in Strasbourg on 21 March. Gazeta links Alkhanov’s statement to a recent ruling by the Strasbourg court that satisfied complaints by a group of Chechens and interprets it as a consequence of cooling in Russia’s relations with the Council of Europe. Vremya novostei adds, however, that the head of the Chechen State Council, Taus Dzhabrailov, denied that the Chechen leadership would refrain from visiting Strasbourg (Vremya novostei, Gazeta, Interfax).

Chechen police department attacked; new attacks expected: Vremya novostei reports under a front-page title “Chechen special services are getting ready for new militant attacks” that, following a militant attack on Sunzhensky police department on Tuesday evening and a failed attack on the police department in Achkhoi-Martan, in which one policemen was killed and 19 others wounded, Chechnya’s law enforcement agencies were put on high alert. The paper stresses that more wide-scale attacks can be expected, as Chechen militants usually mark anniversaries of the mass rebel assault on Grozny (6 March 1996) with major terrorist attacks (Vremya novostei, Interfax, Gazeta).

9 maart 2005

- Maskhadov declared dead: Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov was reportedly killed in Chechnya yesterday in a special operation in the Chechen village of Tolstoy Yurt. The media provide diverse comments on Maskhadov’s death. Izvestia expects a radical change in the situation in Chechnya. “Special services are celebrating a victory, while experts fear an escalation of combat actions in Chechnya”, says Vedomosti. Kommersant believes that Chechen militants may now be headed by Shamil Basayev or Doku Umarov who are well known for their irreconcilable attitude towards Russia. Interfax quotes Chechen State Council Chairman Taus Dzhabrailov as saying that Maskhadov’s death “has pulled the carpet from under the feet of those who have tried to cover themselves with the name of Maskhadov and pass themselves off as fighters for the independence” of Chechnya. An expert cited by Vedomosti claims that the “murder of Maskhadov is a blow to the policy pursued by the EU, which has insisted on the political settlement in Chechnya”, as, in the expert’s words, it will be difficult to find another potential negotiator with Moscow, who enjoys authority among Chechens and is not discredited by participation in terrorist activities. All leading dailies run the story on their front pages (All media).

10 maart 2005

- Media, politicians on implications of Maskhadov’s death: The Russian media, politicians and political experts are divided in their opinion about possible effects of Maskhadov’s death on the situation in Chechnya. Chechen President Alu Alkhanov, quoted by Interfax, says that “the situation in Chechnya does not depend on whether Maskhadov is alive or dead”. “The elimination of a terrorist of international standing means that there will be much less evil now”, believes Duma Chairman Boris Gryzlov (Interfax). Political expert Alexey Malashenko says in an interview with Izvestia that the death of the sole representative of the militants, who was prepared to sit at the negotiation table with Moscow, will “lead to new terrorist acts and to the strengthening of Chechen resistance”. Political analyst Vagif Guseynov writes in a comment to Izvestia that Maskhadov’s death is unlikely to drastically change the situation in Chechnya. However, in his words, both internal and external forces, which oppose the stabilisation in Chechnya and the strengthening of Moscow’s influence in the Caucasus will try to “use Maskhadov’s death in their interest”. Some of today’s newspaper titles read: “The war is not killed – Maskhadov’s death does not imply peace in Chechnya” (Vremya novostei); “Kremlin’s victory may be short-lived” (The Moscow Times); “The dead face of terror” (Rossiyskaya gazeta).

11 maart 2005

- Little-known Chechen cleric to replace Maskhadov: Little-known Chechen cleric Abdul-Khakim Saidullayev (no relation to businessman and former presidential candidate Malik Saidullaev) will take over as interim rebel leader after Aslan Maskhadov’s death, London-based separatist envoy Akhmed Zakayev said yesterday. Noting that radical Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev had backed Saidullayev’s candidacy in a statement posted on Wednesday, some media believe that the announcement was probably an attempt by Basayev to “buy time as he figures out his next move” (Gazeta, The Moscow Times, Moskovsky komsomolets, Novye Izvestia).

- Helicopter crash in Chechnya claims 14 lives: A helicopter belonging to federal troops crashed in Chechnya yesterday, claiming the lives of 14 people. Early accounts say that the helicopter hit a power transmission line, fell on a field and started burning (Kommersant, All electronic media).

- Nezavisimaya gazeta briefly reports on the tough reaction by EP deputies to Maskhadov’s killing and says that an EC delegation will visit North Caucasus on 13-18 March. The article by Andrey Terekhov is entitled “The West expects a political process in Chechnya”.

14 maart 2005

- Deputy FM comments on upcoming session of UNCHR: In the run up to the 61st session of the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva, head of the Russian delegation, deputy FM Yury Fedotov said to Interfax that Russia would insist that the Commission discuss the current tendency of honouring Nazi collaborators in Latvia and Estonia. Fedorov also warned the EU and the U.S. against putting a draft resolution on the situation in Chechnya on the session’s agenda and stressed that “Russia had never refused to cooperate on the Chechen issue with the international community”, but it “would never allow anyone to gamble on the theme of human rights observance in Chechnya and try to derive some opportunistic political dividends from this” (Interfax, Vremya novostei, Kommersant).

- Poland, Russia alleviate scandal over comments on Maskhadov’s death: Kommersant reports that Russia and Poland last weekend tried to alleviate the scandal triggered by the comments of the Polish Foreign Ministry over the death of Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov. In the paper’s words, Warsaw apologised for ‘ill-considered’ comments by an official representative of the Polish Foreign Ministry, and the Russian side accepted the apologies (Kommersant).

15 maart 2005

- Putin’s envoy visits Germany to discuss Chechnya: “The Kremlin decided to involve its closest partner in Europe, Germany, to the settlement of the Chechen crisis”, writes Nezavisimaya gazeta (front page), reporting on the visit of presidential envoy in the Southern Federal District Dmitry Kozak to Germany and his meetings with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and FM Joschka Fishcher. However, in the paper’s view, the visit did not result in any breakthroughs on the issue (Nezavisimaya gazeta).

- 15 people wounded in Grozny: Fifteen people were wounded when a bomb exploded in the building of the military commandant’s office in the Chechen capital. According to one theory, which, in Gazeta’s words, has not been confirmed by officials, the explosion resulted from the careless handling of a grenade launcher by a serviceman (All media).

- Nezavisimaya gazeta carries an article by Anya Vvedenskaya (Brussels) and Andrey Terekhov entitled “European Union unexpectedly cancelled its mission to Chechnya – the postponement of the coordinated visit is related to Maskhadov’s killing”. “The visit, which pursued the aim of identifying possibilities for humanitarian assistance, was coordinated with Moscow two months ago. However, as a source of NG in Brussels said, the visit is postponed indefinitely due to the latest events in Chechnya”, writes the paper. The daily quotes EC spokesperson Emma Udwin as pointing to “technical reasons” for the postponement of the visit, however, in the paper’s words, the spokesperson “smiled in a meaningful way” when asked for further explanations. “It cannot be excluded that the EC pinned much higher hopes on its delegation than preparations for a humanitarian mission. The envoys of Brussels, whose names are not disclosed, could plan meetings with representatives of Maskhadov; his death made those meetings meaningless”- Nezavisimaya gazeta claims.

16 maart 2005

- FSB pays reward for information on Maskhadov: The FSB said in a press release yesterday that it had paid the promised $10 million reward to several people who provided information on the whereabouts of Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov. Interfax quotes Chechen President Alkhanov as saying that the payment of Maskhadov reward will help intensify the search for warlord Shamil Basayev. Vremya novostei interprets the FSB statement as an indication that Maskhadov’s murder was not incidental, but rather the result of a scrupulously planned special operation. “Aslan Maskhadov was killed on purpose, and nobody planned to capture him alive”, claims the paper. Several leading dailies run the story on their front pages (All media).

18 maart 2005

- Attack on Chubais high in the news: All major Russian dailies devote their front-page articles to yesterday’s attack on Anatoly Chubais, United Energy Systems CEO and the architect of the post-Soviet privatisation reforms. A bomb went off near the armoured BMW taking him to work, and attackers opened fire with automatic weapons – the type of ambush practiced in Chechnya, in Gazeta’s words. Chubais, who was unharmed, called the attack “a murder attempt” and said he knew who had ordered it. The media, as well as politicians, are divided on whether the crime was politically or economically motivated. There seems to be no doubt, however, that the attack “had been planned professionally”, says Gazeta. “The attempt on Anatoly Chubais may become an attempt on stability in the country”, reads a title in Vremya novostei. Political analyst Gleb Pavlovsky, cited by the daily, interprets the attack on Chubais as “an indicator of a drift from shouting to shooting” (All media).

- Supreme Court reduces prison term for Chechen woman: The Russian Supreme Court yesterday reduced by six months the prison term for Chechen resident Zara Murtazaliyeva, who had been sentenced to nine years imprisonment for planning a terrorist act. Murtazaliyeva’s lawyer labelled the court’s decision as a ‘mockery’. Vremya novostei reports on the issue in an article entitled “Dangerous words – the Supreme Court qualified discussions on the war in Chechnya as a crime” (Vremya novostei, Kommersant, Interfax, Gazeta).

- Roundtable on Chechen settlement held in Grozny ahead of Strasbourg Chechnya forum: Grozny yesterday hosted a one-day roundtable on the Chechen settlement that “appeared aimed to overshadow”, in The Moscow Times’ words, next Monday’s conference in Strasbourg, which will bring together pro-Moscow Chechen politicians, including Chechen President Alu Alkhanov, international experts, NGOs and several people close to Maskhadov. Chechen senior officials reiterated their criticism of the Strasbourg event, with Chechen First Deputy PM Ramzan Kadyrov saying that all Chechen problems should be discussed in the Chechen capital (Interfax, The Moscow Times).

- Chechen prosecutor: over 6,000 policemen, servicemen killed in Chechnya: The media quote Chechen prosecutor Vladimir Kravchenko as saying that over 6,000 servicemen and Russian Interior Ministry officials have been killed and over 8,000 have been injured since the beginning of the counter-terrorism operation in Chechnya. He stressed that Chechnya’s authorities and law enforcement agencies have now gained full control over the situation in the republic (Interfax).

21 maart 2005

- Round-table on Chechnya to be held in Strasbourg. The media report that a roundtable discussion on Chechnya will be held in Strasbourg today. Chechen President Alu Alkhanov is expected to participate in the discussions. (Kommersant, Vremya novostei)

- Separatists killed in Chechen operations. Dailies report on the operation carried out in Chechnya over the weekend. According to media reports, police killed two suspected militants of the Doku Umarov’s gang. (Vremya novostei)

22 maart 2005

- Moscow ‘scores victory’ at Chechnya roundtable in Strasbourg?: Kommersant reports in a front-page article entitled “Russia suppressed Chechen resistance in Europe” that “Moscow has scored an important victory in the fight for Chechnya in the Council of Europe”, as yesterday’s Chechnya roundtable in Strasbourg was held in accordance with ‘the Russian scenario’, as the paper put it. The paper goes on to say that an attempt to hold an inter-Chechen dialogue within the PACE framework has failed, as representatives of the recently killed separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov refused to take part in the event, with Russian human rights advocates thereby becoming the sole opponents of the federal authorities in the discussion. Nezavisimaya gazeta has published a front-page interview with PACE rapporteur on Chechnya, Andreas Gross, entitled “Maskhadov’s murder serves the interests of hawks” (Kommersant, Interfax, Nezavisimaya gazeta).

23 maart 2005

- Chechnya: five die in a dispute over cow; helicopter crash claims two lives; unconfirmed attack on PM: (i) Five people died in a clash between federal soldiers and pro-Moscow Chechen police provoked by a dispute when a federal military vehicle ran over a cow. “The conflict in Chechnya is entering a new level – the federal forces and local policemen have started fighting each other”, claims Nezavisimaya gazeta in a comment on the incident (NG, Izvestia, The Moscow Times, Vremya novostei, Kommersant). (ii) Two out of ten people who sustained injuries when a Mi-8 helicopter crashed in Chechnya’s Grozny district yesterday, have died, reports Interfax. According to preliminary data, the crash was caused by a malfunction in the engine (Interfax, Vremya novostei). (iii) According to unconfirmed media reports, a landmine was allegedly planted along Chechen PM Abramov’s planned route (Interfax, Vremya novostei, Kommersant).

- Foreign Ministry protests against naming a square in Warsaw after Dudayev: Gazeta reports that the Russian Foreign Ministry has protested against the naming of a square in Warsaw after the first Chechen separatist leader, Djakhar Dudayev (Gazeta, Novye Izvestia, Trud, The Moscow News).

24 maart 2004

- Moscow city to take revenge on the city of Warsaw for naming square after Dudayev?: Russian officials continue to voice criticism against the Warsaw authorities’ intention to name one of the city squares after Chechen separatist leader Dzhakhar Dudayev. Chechen President Alu Alkhanov is quoted by Interfax as saying that “this indicates the absolute ignorance of the role that Dudayev played in the fate of the Chechen people”. Vremya novostei adds that Moscow Duma speaker Vladimir Platonov and Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov issued a joint statement labelling the decision by the Warsaw authorities as “blunt provocation”. According to the daily, Vladimir Platonov has said that the Moscow city may take vengeance upon Warsaw by naming the street where the Polish Embassy to Russia is situated, after Russian general Mikhail Muravyev who is notorious for the cruel suppression of a Polish uprising in 1863. Against this background, Nezavisimaya gazeta (front page) makes what could be a far-fetched supposition that President Putin’s visit to Kostroma yesterday is not incidental as Kostroma is known as the native town of Ivan Susanin, a national hero of the war against Polish invaders who lived four centuries ago (Interfax, Vremya novostei, Nezavisimaya gazeta).

- Prominent Chechen warlord killed: Prominent Chechen warlord Rizvan Chitigov, who was reportedly involved in numerous terrorist attacks, was killed in a special operation in Chechnya. According to Kommersant, Chitigov was ranked third in the Chechen resistance, after Shamil Basayev and Doku Umarov. Gazeta adds that Chitigov became notorious in 2001 when he proposed using chemical weapons against federal troops. The paper says that similarly to Maskhadov’s case, a reward will be paid to the people who provided information on Chitigov (All media).

- Russian diplomat’s car set on fire in Stockholm: A car belonging to an official of the Russian Embassy in Sweden was set ablaze in Stockholm late on Tuesday. Gazeta (front page) comments that the “World Intifada” organisation has assumed responsibility for the attack as a reaction to the policies of the Russian authorities in Chechnya. Kommersant adds that the Russian Foreign Ministry linked the attack to an interview by Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev which appeared in the Swedish media the day before, and accused Stockholm of having double standard (All media).

25 maart 2005

- FM Lavrov meets Chechen President: Meeting Chechen President Alu Alkhanov yesterday, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the world is becoming increasingly aware of the necessity to assist the Russian authorities in settling the situation in Chechnya and restoring peace in the republic. “This would be the best response to the international terrorists’ intrigues”, Lavrov noted (Interfax).

- Militant leader killed in Chechnya: Chechen militant leader Alvi Tasuyev was killed during a sweep operation in the Grozny district yesterday. Tasuyev is said to have been an associate of late Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov and “one of Shamil Basayev’s deputies”, reports Interfax. Vremya novostei highlights that Chechen First Deputy PM Ramzan Kadyrov personally led the operation (Interfax, Vremya novostei).

29 maart 2005

- NGO – 28 people missing in Chechnya in 2005: Interfax quotes a representative of the “Memorial” human rights organisation as saying that over 50 people have been abducted in Chechnya in 2005, and 28 of them are still missing (Interfax).

30 maart 2005

- Grozny court sentences policeman to 11 years: Grozny’s district court sentenced Sergei Lapin, a policeman from Nizhnevartovsk (Siberia), to 11 years in prison on abuse of office charges. Lapin was convicted for beating up a local Chechen resident, whose whereabouts are still unknown. The media note that this is the first verdict handed down by a Chechen court against a law enforcement officer accused of committing crimes against the local population. Interfax quotes Svetlana Gannushkina from the “Memorial” human rights organisation as saying that “it is hard to say if this will become a tendency in crime fighting, or if it was done to show that the human rights situation in Chechnya is acceptable” (Interfax, Kommersant, The Moscow Times, Izvestia).

31 maart 2005

- Putin meets Chechen President in Sochi: Commenting on yesterday’s meeting of President Putin with Chechen President Alu Alkhanov in Sochi, Nezavisimaya gazeta notes that contrary to expectations, the issue of a treaty on delimitation of powers between the federal authorities and Chechnya was not raised, at least during the open part of the meeting. The media highlight Alkhanov’s words that parliamentary elections may be held in Chechnya next autumn (Nezavisimaya gazeta, Kommersant, Interfax, Gazeta, Rossiyskaya gazeta).

Persoverzicht Tsjetsjenië

1 maart 2005

- US criticises Moscow over human rights: Vremya novostei (front page) reports that the Russian section of the US State Department annual human rights report, released yesterday, describes the judicial persecution of Yukos’ Mikhail Khodorkovsky as ‘politically motivated’, and criticises the Russian authorities for human rights violations in Chechnya, saying that the perpetrators include both Chechen militants and the authorities (Vremya novostei, The Moscow Times).

- Tax inspectors to check Soldiers’ Mothers Committees: Gazeta reports that the tax authorities have started checking the spending of funds by the Soldiers’ Mothers Committees [whose delegation recently visited London to meet Chechen separatist emissary Zakayev]. The paper comments that the check is being held at the initiative of the LDPR parliamentary party which accused the Committees’ representatives of pursuing ‘anti-army activities’ (Gazeta, Interfax).

2 maart 2005

- Ombudsman Lukin delivers annual human rights report: Human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin submitted his annual report on human rights in Russia to President Putin yesterday. Noting that Lukin’s report was issued almost simultaneously with the human rights report prepared by the US State Department, Vremya novostei points to major differences in the two reports — according to Lukin, it is not the cancellation of gubernatorial elections, the Yukos case or Chechnya that represent the most flagrant violations of human rights in Russia, as at least half of the complaints received by his office concern “unresolved social issues”, exacerbated further by the replacement of social benefits and the housing sector reform. Izvestia highlights Lukin’s words that about one third of complaints received by his office are related to the arbitrariness of law enforcement officers. “At the meeting, the President has actually taken under his personal control the investigation of a mass beating of people in Blagoveshchensk by the police”, the paper goes on to say. Interfax adds that the Ombudsman’s office and the Interior Ministry plan to conduct joint inspections soon on the activities of the police in five regions (All media).

- Prosecutor General visits Chechnya: Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov arrived in Chechnya for an inspection visit yesterday. The aim of the visit is to look into abductions in Chechnya. “This is the most important issue — it is being monitored by the President and by the Prosecutor General”, Ustinov is quoted by Interfax as saying. Izvestia reports that official sources have put the number of those abducted in Chechnya last year at 154. However, it is not clear whether eight relatives of Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov that have reportedly been abducted were included into this number, the paper goes on to say (Interfax, Izvestia).

- Protestors call on Britain to extradite Berezovsky, Zakayev: Some 70-80 people took part in an action of protest outside the British Embassy in Moscow yesterday demanding that businessman Boris Berezovsky and Chechen separatist emissary Akhmed Zakayev be extradited from Britain (Interfax, The Moscow Times).

- Nezavisimaya gazeta continues to comment on FM Lavrov’s meeting with EU Troika in Luxembourg on Monday and reports on the first session of an ad hoc group to deal with human rights issues. The paper stresses that the EU tends to interpret the group’s mission in a wide way (including Chechnya) while Moscow prefers to focus on the discrimination of Russian-speaking non-citizens in the Baltic states.

3 maart 2005

- Moscow warns the EU against speculating on Chechnya: Commenting on the first round of consultations on human rights between Russia and the EU, that were held in Luxembourg on Tuesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that “EU officials were provided with detailed information about the human rights situation in Russia”, but were “warned once again that attempts to speculate on the human rights situation in Chechnya are counterproductive and senseless” (Interfax).

- Chechen President wants roundtable on Chechnya to be held in Russia: Chechen President Alu Alkhanov said yesterday that a roundtable discussion on Chechnya under PACE auspices should be held in Russia. It was originally planned that the roundtable would be held in Strasbourg on 21 March. Gazeta links Alkhanov’s statement to a recent ruling by the Strasbourg court that satisfied complaints by a group of Chechens and interprets it as a consequence of cooling in Russia’s relations with the Council of Europe. Vremya novostei adds, however, that the head of the Chechen State Council, Taus Dzhabrailov, denied that the Chechen leadership would refrain from visiting Strasbourg (Vremya novostei, Gazeta, Interfax).

Chechen police department attacked; new attacks expected: Vremya novostei reports under a front-page title “Chechen special services are getting ready for new militant attacks” that, following a militant attack on Sunzhensky police department on Tuesday evening and a failed attack on the police department in Achkhoi-Martan, in which one policemen was killed and 19 others wounded, Chechnya’s law enforcement agencies were put on high alert. The paper stresses that more wide-scale attacks can be expected, as Chechen militants usually mark anniversaries of the mass rebel assault on Grozny (6 March 1996) with major terrorist attacks (Vremya novostei, Interfax, Gazeta).

9 maart 2005

- Maskhadov declared dead: Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov was reportedly killed in Chechnya yesterday in a special operation in the Chechen village of Tolstoy Yurt. The media provide diverse comments on Maskhadov’s death. Izvestia expects a radical change in the situation in Chechnya. “Special services are celebrating a victory, while experts fear an escalation of combat actions in Chechnya”, says Vedomosti. Kommersant believes that Chechen militants may now be headed by Shamil Basayev or Doku Umarov who are well known for their irreconcilable attitude towards Russia. Interfax quotes Chechen State Council Chairman Taus Dzhabrailov as saying that Maskhadov’s death “has pulled the carpet from under the feet of those who have tried to cover themselves with the name of Maskhadov and pass themselves off as fighters for the independence” of Chechnya. An expert cited by Vedomosti claims that the “murder of Maskhadov is a blow to the policy pursued by the EU, which has insisted on the political settlement in Chechnya”, as, in the expert’s words, it will be difficult to find another potential negotiator with Moscow, who enjoys authority among Chechens and is not discredited by participation in terrorist activities. All leading dailies run the story on their front pages (All media).

10 maart 2005

- Media, politicians on implications of Maskhadov’s death: The Russian media, politicians and political experts are divided in their opinion about possible effects of Maskhadov’s death on the situation in Chechnya. Chechen President Alu Alkhanov, quoted by Interfax, says that “the situation in Chechnya does not depend on whether Maskhadov is alive or dead”. “The elimination of a terrorist of international standing means that there will be much less evil now”, believes Duma Chairman Boris Gryzlov (Interfax). Political expert Alexey Malashenko says in an interview with Izvestia that the death of the sole representative of the militants, who was prepared to sit at the negotiation table with Moscow, will “lead to new terrorist acts and to the strengthening of Chechen resistance”. Political analyst Vagif Guseynov writes in a comment to Izvestia that Maskhadov’s death is unlikely to drastically change the situation in Chechnya. However, in his words, both internal and external forces, which oppose the stabilisation in Chechnya and the strengthening of Moscow’s influence in the Caucasus will try to “use Maskhadov’s death in their interest”. Some of today’s newspaper titles read: “The war is not killed — Maskhadov’s death does not imply peace in Chechnya” (Vremya novostei); “Kremlin’s victory may be short-lived” (The Moscow Times); “The dead face of terror” (Rossiyskaya gazeta).

11 maart 2005

- Little-known Chechen cleric to replace Maskhadov: Little-known Chechen cleric Abdul-Khakim Saidullayev (no relation to businessman and former presidential candidate Malik Saidullaev) will take over as interim rebel leader after Aslan Maskhadov’s death, London-based separatist envoy Akhmed Zakayev said yesterday. Noting that radical Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev had backed Saidullayev’s candidacy in a statement posted on Wednesday, some media believe that the announcement was probably an attempt by Basayev to “buy time as he figures out his next move” (Gazeta, The Moscow Times, Moskovsky komsomolets, Novye Izvestia).

- Helicopter crash in Chechnya claims 14 lives: A helicopter belonging to federal troops crashed in Chechnya yesterday, claiming the lives of 14 people. Early accounts say that the helicopter hit a power transmission line, fell on a field and started burning (Kommersant, All electronic media).

- Nezavisimaya gazeta briefly reports on the tough reaction by EP deputies to Maskhadov’s killing and says that an EC delegation will visit North Caucasus on 13-18 March. The article by Andrey Terekhov is entitled “The West expects a political process in Chechnya”.

14 maart 2005

- Deputy FM comments on upcoming session of UNCHR: In the run up to the 61st session of the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva, head of the Russian delegation, deputy FM Yury Fedotov said to Interfax that Russia would insist that the Commission discuss the current tendency of honouring Nazi collaborators in Latvia and Estonia. Fedorov also warned the EU and the U.S. against putting a draft resolution on the situation in Chechnya on the session’s agenda and stressed that “Russia had never refused to cooperate on the Chechen issue with the international community”, but it “would never allow anyone to gamble on the theme of human rights observance in Chechnya and try to derive some opportunistic political dividends from this” (Interfax, Vremya novostei, Kommersant).

- Poland, Russia alleviate scandal over comments on Maskhadov’s death: Kommersant reports that Russia and Poland last weekend tried to alleviate the scandal triggered by the comments of the Polish Foreign Ministry over the death of Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov. In the paper’s words, Warsaw apologised for ‘ill-considered’ comments by an official representative of the Polish Foreign Ministry, and the Russian side accepted the apologies (Kommersant).

15 maart 2005

- Putin’s envoy visits Germany to discuss Chechnya: “The Kremlin decided to involve its closest partner in Europe, Germany, to the settlement of the Chechen crisis”, writes Nezavisimaya gazeta (front page), reporting on the visit of presidential envoy in the Southern Federal District Dmitry Kozak to Germany and his meetings with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and FM Joschka Fishcher. However, in the paper’s view, the visit did not result in any breakthroughs on the issue (Nezavisimaya gazeta).

- 15 people wounded in Grozny: Fifteen people were wounded when a bomb exploded in the building of the military commandant’s office in the Chechen capital. According to one theory, which, in Gazeta’s words, has not been confirmed by officials, the explosion resulted from the careless handling of a grenade launcher by a serviceman (All media).

- Nezavisimaya gazeta carries an article by Anya Vvedenskaya (Brussels) and Andrey Terekhov entitled “European Union unexpectedly cancelled its mission to Chechnya — the postponement of the coordinated visit is related to Maskhadov’s killing”. “The visit, which pursued the aim of identifying possibilities for humanitarian assistance, was coordinated with Moscow two months ago. However, as a source of NG in Brussels said, the visit is postponed indefinitely due to the latest events in Chechnya”, writes the paper. The daily quotes EC spokesperson Emma Udwin as pointing to “technical reasons” for the postponement of the visit, however, in the paper’s words, the spokesperson “smiled in a meaningful way” when asked for further explanations. “It cannot be excluded that the EC pinned much higher hopes on its delegation than preparations for a humanitarian mission. The envoys of Brussels, whose names are not disclosed, could plan meetings with representatives of Maskhadov; his death made those meetings meaningless”- Nezavisimaya gazeta claims.

16 maart 2005

- FSB pays reward for information on Maskhadov: The FSB said in a press release yesterday that it had paid the promised $10 million reward to several people who provided information on the whereabouts of Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov. Interfax quotes Chechen President Alkhanov as saying that the payment of Maskhadov reward will help intensify the search for warlord Shamil Basayev. Vremya novostei interprets the FSB statement as an indication that Maskhadov’s murder was not incidental, but rather the result of a scrupulously planned special operation. “Aslan Maskhadov was killed on purpose, and nobody planned to capture him alive”, claims the paper. Several leading dailies run the story on their front pages (All media).

18 maart 2005

- Attack on Chubais high in the news: All major Russian dailies devote their front-page articles to yesterday’s attack on Anatoly Chubais, United Energy Systems CEO and the architect of the post-Soviet privatisation reforms. A bomb went off near the armoured BMW taking him to work, and attackers opened fire with automatic weapons — the type of ambush practiced in Chechnya, in Gazeta’s words. Chubais, who was unharmed, called the attack “a murder attempt” and said he knew who had ordered it. The media, as well as politicians, are divided on whether the crime was politically or economically motivated. There seems to be no doubt, however, that the attack “had been planned professionally”, says Gazeta. “The attempt on Anatoly Chubais may become an attempt on stability in the country”, reads a title in Vremya novostei. Political analyst Gleb Pavlovsky, cited by the daily, interprets the attack on Chubais as “an indicator of a drift from shouting to shooting” (All media).

- Supreme Court reduces prison term for Chechen woman: The Russian Supreme Court yesterday reduced by six months the prison term for Chechen resident Zara Murtazaliyeva, who had been sentenced to nine years imprisonment for planning a terrorist act. Murtazaliyeva’s lawyer labelled the court’s decision as a ‘mockery’. Vremya novostei reports on the issue in an article entitled “Dangerous words — the Supreme Court qualified discussions on the war in Chechnya as a crime” (Vremya novostei, Kommersant, Interfax, Gazeta).

- Roundtable on Chechen settlement held in Grozny ahead of Strasbourg Chechnya forum: Grozny yesterday hosted a one-day roundtable on the Chechen settlement that “appeared aimed to overshadow”, in The Moscow Times’ words, next Monday’s conference in Strasbourg, which will bring together pro-Moscow Chechen politicians, including Chechen President Alu Alkhanov, international experts, NGOs and several people close to Maskhadov. Chechen senior officials reiterated their criticism of the Strasbourg event, with Chechen First Deputy PM Ramzan Kadyrov saying that all Chechen problems should be discussed in the Chechen capital (Interfax, The Moscow Times).

- Chechen prosecutor: over 6,000 policemen, servicemen killed in Chechnya: The media quote Chechen prosecutor Vladimir Kravchenko as saying that over 6,000 servicemen and Russian Interior Ministry officials have been killed and over 8,000 have been injured since the beginning of the counter-terrorism operation in Chechnya. He stressed that Chechnya’s authorities and law enforcement agencies have now gained full control over the situation in the republic (Interfax).

21 maart 2005

- Round-table on Chechnya to be held in Strasbourg. The media report that a roundtable discussion on Chechnya will be held in Strasbourg today. Chechen President Alu Alkhanov is expected to participate in the discussions. (Kommersant, Vremya novostei)

- Separatists killed in Chechen operations. Dailies report on the operation carried out in Chechnya over the weekend. According to media reports, police killed two suspected militants of the Doku Umarov’s gang. (Vremya novostei)

22 maart 2005

- Moscow ‘scores victory’ at Chechnya roundtable in Strasbourg?: Kommersant reports in a front-page article entitled “Russia suppressed Chechen resistance in Europe” that “Moscow has scored an important victory in the fight for Chechnya in the Council of Europe”, as yesterday’s Chechnya roundtable in Strasbourg was held in accordance with ‘the Russian scenario’, as the paper put it. The paper goes on to say that an attempt to hold an inter-Chechen dialogue within the PACE framework has failed, as representatives of the recently killed separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov refused to take part in the event, with Russian human rights advocates thereby becoming the sole opponents of the federal authorities in the discussion. Nezavisimaya gazeta has published a front-page interview with PACE rapporteur on Chechnya, Andreas Gross, entitled “Maskhadov’s murder serves the interests of hawks” (Kommersant, Interfax, Nezavisimaya gazeta).

23 maart 2005

- Chechnya: five die in a dispute over cow; helicopter crash claims two lives; unconfirmed attack on PM: (i) Five people died in a clash between federal soldiers and pro-Moscow Chechen police provoked by a dispute when a federal military vehicle ran over a cow. “The conflict in Chechnya is entering a new level — the federal forces and local policemen have started fighting each other”, claims Nezavisimaya gazeta in a comment on the incident (NG, Izvestia, The Moscow Times, Vremya novostei, Kommersant). (ii) Two out of ten people who sustained injuries when a Mi-8 helicopter crashed in Chechnya’s Grozny district yesterday, have died, reports Interfax. According to preliminary data, the crash was caused by a malfunction in the engine (Interfax, Vremya novostei). (iii) According to unconfirmed media reports, a landmine was allegedly planted along Chechen PM Abramov’s planned route (Interfax, Vremya novostei, Kommersant).

- Foreign Ministry protests against naming a square in Warsaw after Dudayev: Gazeta reports that the Russian Foreign Ministry has protested against the naming of a square in Warsaw after the first Chechen separatist leader, Djakhar Dudayev (Gazeta, Novye Izvestia, Trud, The Moscow News).

24 maart 2004

- Moscow city to take revenge on the city of Warsaw for naming square after Dudayev?: Russian officials continue to voice criticism against the Warsaw authorities’ intention to name one of the city squares after Chechen separatist leader Dzhakhar Dudayev. Chechen President Alu Alkhanov is quoted by Interfax as saying that “this indicates the absolute ignorance of the role that Dudayev played in the fate of the Chechen people”. Vremya novostei adds that Moscow Duma speaker Vladimir Platonov and Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov issued a joint statement labelling the decision by the Warsaw authorities as “blunt provocation”. According to the daily, Vladimir Platonov has said that the Moscow city may take vengeance upon Warsaw by naming the street where the Polish Embassy to Russia is situated, after Russian general Mikhail Muravyev who is notorious for the cruel suppression of a Polish uprising in 1863. Against this background, Nezavisimaya gazeta (front page) makes what could be a far-fetched supposition that President Putin’s visit to Kostroma yesterday is not incidental as Kostroma is known as the native town of Ivan Susanin, a national hero of the war against Polish invaders who lived four centuries ago (Interfax, Vremya novostei, Nezavisimaya gazeta).

- Prominent Chechen warlord killed: Prominent Chechen warlord Rizvan Chitigov, who was reportedly involved in numerous terrorist attacks, was killed in a special operation in Chechnya. According to Kommersant, Chitigov was ranked third in the Chechen resistance, after Shamil Basayev and Doku Umarov. Gazeta adds that Chitigov became notorious in 2001 when he proposed using chemical weapons against federal troops. The paper says that similarly to Maskhadov’s case, a reward will be paid to the people who provided information on Chitigov (All media).

- Russian diplomat’s car set on fire in Stockholm: A car belonging to an official of the Russian Embassy in Sweden was set ablaze in Stockholm late on Tuesday. Gazeta (front page) comments that the “World Intifada” organisation has assumed responsibility for the attack as a reaction to the policies of the Russian authorities in Chechnya. Kommersant adds that the Russian Foreign Ministry linked the attack to an interview by Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev which appeared in the Swedish media the day before, and accused Stockholm of having double standard (All media).

25 maart 2005

- FM Lavrov meets Chechen President: Meeting Chechen President Alu Alkhanov yesterday, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the world is becoming increasingly aware of the necessity to assist the Russian authorities in settling the situation in Chechnya and restoring peace in the republic. “This would be the best response to the international terrorists’ intrigues”, Lavrov noted (Interfax).

- Militant leader killed in Chechnya: Chechen militant leader Alvi Tasuyev was killed during a sweep operation in the Grozny district yesterday. Tasuyev is said to have been an associate of late Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov and “one of Shamil Basayev’s deputies”, reports Interfax. Vremya novostei highlights that Chechen First Deputy PM Ramzan Kadyrov personally led the operation (Interfax, Vremya novostei).

29 maart 2005

- NGO — 28 people missing in Chechnya in 2005: Interfax quotes a representative of the “Memorial” human rights organisation as saying that over 50 people have been abducted in Chechnya in 2005, and 28 of them are still missing (Interfax).

30 maart 2005

- Grozny court sentences policeman to 11 years: Grozny’s district court sentenced Sergei Lapin, a policeman from Nizhnevartovsk (Siberia), to 11 years in prison on abuse of office charges. Lapin was convicted for beating up a local Chechen resident, whose whereabouts are still unknown. The media note that this is the first verdict handed down by a Chechen court against a law enforcement officer accused of committing crimes against the local population. Interfax quotes Svetlana Gannushkina from the “Memorial” human rights organisation as saying that “it is hard to say if this will become a tendency in crime fighting, or if it was done to show that the human rights situation in Chechnya is acceptable” (Interfax, Kommersant, The Moscow Times, Izvestia).

31 maart 2005

- Putin meets Chechen President in Sochi: Commenting on yesterday’s meeting of President Putin with Chechen President Alu Alkhanov in Sochi, Nezavisimaya gazeta notes that contrary to expectations, the issue of a treaty on delimitation of powers between the federal authorities and Chechnya was not raised, at least during the open part of the meeting. The media highlight Alkhanov’s words that parliamentary elections may be held in Chechnya next autumn (Nezavisimaya gazeta, Kommersant, Interfax, Gazeta, Rossiyskaya gazeta).

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