Persoverzicht Tsjetsjenië - November 2003

4 november 2003

- Chechen President appoints 8 ministers: Yesterday Chechen President Kadyrov appointed eight ministers to the Chechen government. The media note that there is only one new appointee among them, Amadi Temishev, who has become Industry Minister (Interfax, Kommersant).

10 november 2003

- EU-Russia summit high in the news: All Russian newspapers today report, including in front-page articles, on the EU-Russia summit in Rome on 6 November. Statements by President Putin and PM Berlusconi regarding the case against Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Chechnya are the focus of media reports. In their articles, Izvestia, Kommersant, Nezavisimaya gazeta, Gazeta and Vedomosti quote the Commission’s Spokesman Kemppinen who described Berlusconi’s comments as “personal remarks”. Titles of major dailies read “Rapprochement of Russia and Europe may slow down” (Izvestia), “Advocate Berlusconi” (Nezavisimaya gazeta), “Vladimir Putin has split the European Union” (Gazeta). (See articles on the EU)

- The Russian newspapers broadly comment the outcome of the EU-Russia summit in Rome on 6 November, the last one before EU enlargement. All articles focus on statements on the Yukos case made by PM Berlusconi and by President Putin in response to a question raised by a Le Monde correspondent.
With regard to the content of documents signed at the summit, the articles comment that Russia “has achieved rather a good result” given that the documents do not mention the Chechnya issue or the situation surrounding Yukos. Moreover, the Joint Statement clearly states that the sides will work actively so that Russia could join the WTO in 2004. The latter “gives some kind of optimism taking into account the number of outstanding trade issues between the EU and Russia. With regard to the statements on Yukos made by Putin and Berlusconi at the joint press conference, all media point to the reaction of the Commission’s Spokesman Kemppinen who described Mr Berlusconi’s defence of Putin’s policy in Chechnya and on Yukos issue as his “personal remarks”. Regarding discussions on facilitating the EU-Russia visa regime, the articles comment that no essential progress has been made since the St Petersburg summit, which in the opinion of the media shows that rapprochement between the EU and Russia may slow down.

13 november 2003

- MFA criticises Danish FM’s statements on Chechnya: In a special comment yesterday, the Russian Foreign Ministry described the Danish Foreign Minister Moller’s recent statement on Russia’s actions in Chechnya further to the past EU-Russia summit as “not surprising”, adding that “such problems are the long-time hobby of Mr Moller”. The Russian MFA underlines that “according to the Danish Minister, Copenhagen voices the EU policy on the Chechen issue”, commenting that “one may wonder whether the EU knows about this ‘distribution of duties’”.

- London court to decide on Zakayev’s extradition: Today the media recall that the London Magistrate’s Court will decide today on the extradition of Chechen separatist emissary Akhmed Zakayev requested by the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office. (Ekho Moskvy, RIAN, Vremya novostei)

14 november 2003

- Zakayev denied extradition; Russian officials point to ‘double standards’: (i) Yesterday’s decision by the London’s Magistrates’ Court not to extradite Chechen separatist envoy Akhmed Zakayev is the focus of media reports. In a special comment, the Russian Foreign Ministry has underscored that this decision “is a serious blow to the bilateral partnership, especially in the field of anti-terrorism interaction” and “contradicts international cooperation in the fight against terrorism”. A Prosecutor General’s Office representative is quoted as having stressed that this “political decision mirrors double standards” and that the Prosecutor General’s Office “reserves the right to appeal to the UK Supreme Court”. The Presidential Aide Sergey Yastrzhembsky has called the London court’s decision “a recurrence of the double-standard politics” and “an attempt to justify terrorism”. (ii) Interfax reports that the Duma member and well-known human rights activist Sergey Kovalyov openly approved the decision not to extradite Zakayev. (All media)

17 november 2003

- Putin meets with Chechen President Kadyrov: Vremya novostei reports that on Friday, President Putin held a meeting with Chechen President Kadyrov, their first meeting since the election of Kadyrov on 5 October. The daily notes that Kadyrov is keen to get the signing of an agreement on the distribution of powers between the federal centre and the republic and hopes for its conclusion before the end of this year. However, in the paper’s view, it might take longer to achieve this, given the recent resignation of former Kremlin Administration head Voloshin, who used to be in charge of the agreement’s preparation (Vremya novostei, Gazeta).

- Kadyrov meets with Maskhadov’s representative: On Friday, Chechen President Kadyrov met in Moscow with Salambek Maigov, the former envoy of Chechen rebel leader Maskhadov. Kadyrov called the meeting a sign of growing normalisation in the republic and also portrayed it as evidence that the rebels’ cause was doomed. However, in the view of Nezavisimaya gazeta, it seems that the situation in Chechnya is so complicated that Kadyrov has to look for a compromise (Nezavisimaya gazeta, The Moscow Times).

18 november 2003

- Four military officers on trial in Rostov: Gazeta and Izvestia contain front-page articles reporting that court hearings of the case of four military officers, accused of killing Chechen civilians, began in Rostov on Don yesterday. Investigators claim that after having accidentally killed a Chechen civilian, the officers shot dead five other people who had witnessed the murder. Izvestia compares the new trial to the recent high-profile Budanov case (Izvestia, Gazeta, Kommesant).

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