Persoverzicht Tsjetsjenië - November 2004

1 november 2004

- One killed, 15 wounded in two car blasts in Grozny: One person was killed and 15 others wounded as a result of two car blasts in the Chechen capital yesterday. According to Kommersant, the militants’ action was targeted against the personnel of the Chechen presidential security service (Kommersant, Interfax, Nezavisimaya gazeta).

2 november 2004

- Chechen President supports proposal on terrorists’ relatives detention: Kommersant reports that Chechen President Alu Alkhanov yesterday supported the idea put forward by Prosecutor General Ustinov to detain extremists’ relatives for the period of terrorist attacks that involve the taking of hostages, if such a measure is legalised. The daily notes, however, that Chairman of the Chechen State Council Taus Dzhabrailov spoke out against the proposal stressing that such practices will make “extreme Wahhabis” even more aggressive (Kommersant).

3 november 2004

- Human rights NGO asks EU to influence Russian policy on Chechnya: Interfax reports that the International Helsinki Federation has called on EU countries to influence Russian policy on Chechnya. “We are deeply concerned that Chechnya itself is becoming a forgotten conflict zone”, the NGO’s statement says (Interfax, Novye Izvestia).

4 november 2004

- EU-Russia relations addressed at Putin-Berlusconi summit: In yesterday’s meeting at the Kremlin that highlighted close ties between Russia and Italy, President Putin and PM Berlusconi called for a unified front against terrorism, discussed the crisis in Iraq and a range of other international issues. Official government newspaper Rossiyskaya gazeta stresses that although Russia and Italy disagree on some issues and Moscow continues to consider US actions in Iraq “erroneous”, “this did not prevent Putin and Berlusconi from supporting each other on other issues” – Italy continues to show “understanding” in relation to Russia’s actions in Chechnya, and Berlusconi does not miss any opportunity to publicly discuss the possibility of Russia’s accession to the EU. According to Interfax, a joint statement adopted at yesterday’s talks stresses the importance of the EU fulfilling its promises on the Kaliningrad transit and on the protection of the rights of Russian-speaking minorities in the Baltic states (Rossiyskaya gazeta, Kommersant).

- Russians convicted in Qatar over Yandarbiyev’s murder to return to Russia: Kommersant (front page) quotes Secretary of the Security Council Igor Ivanov as saying that that the two Russians recently sentenced to life in Qatar for their involvement in the murder of Chechen separatist leader Zelimkhan Yandarbiev “will return to Russia in the near future”. The paper interprets Ivanov’s statement as an indication that Moscow has already reached an agreement with the Qatar authorities over the convicts’ transfer. The paper adds, however, that it has not been coordinated so far whether the convicts will serve their sentences in a Russian prison or will be set free (Kommersant).

5 november 2004

- Foreign Ministry protests against publication of Basayev’s interview in Canadian daily: Interfax reports that the Russian Foreign Ministry sent an official letter of protest to the head of the Moscow bureau of the Canadian daily Globe and Mail over the publication of an interview with “one of the most odious leaders of Chechen bandit groups”, Shamil Basayev, who is on the sanctions list of the UN SC Anti-Taliban Sanctions Committee (Interfax, Itar-Tass).

- Opposition voices scepticism over Bush’s second term
According to Vedomosti, the Russian opposition does not share the official optimism over Bush’s re-election. The daily quotes Yabloko party leader Grigory Yavlinski as saying that “nothing is going to change in the Russia-US relations”. In his view, the problems of democracy in Russia and human rights in Chechnya will not be in the centre of the White House’s attention. Independent Duma deputy Ryzhkov, also quoted by the daily, believes that Washington may step up its human rights activities, but, in Ryzhkov’s view, this will not influence the policies of the Russian leadership.
Communist leader Zyuganov has painted a gloomy picture of Bush’s second term by saying that the American pressure on Russian foreign policy will increase, and the Kremlin might in the future give in to this pressure, which, in Zyuganov’s view, is “extremely dangerous for Russia” (Interfax).

9 november 2004

- Soldiers’ Mothers Party created: A constituent congress of the United People’s Party of Soldiers’ Mothers was held in Moscow during the weekend. The new party, set up on the basis of the Committees of Soldiers’ Mothers, is planning “to continually monitor draft laws concerning human rights protection” and also carry out a “democratic military reform” and “support peacekeeping movements”. Interfax quotes the findings of a public opinion poll held by Yury Levada’s pollster, according to which 72% of Russian women support the Soldiers’ Mothers activities saying that they help to protect the civil rights of recruits and benefit the country in general. Recalling a recent initiative of the Soldiers’ Mothers to hold talks with Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov, Gazeta’s experts voice scepticism over the new party’s prospects of being registered by the Justice Ministry, “as Vladimir Putin has repeatedly spoken out against any talks with terrorists” (All media).

- Chief perpetrator in Akhmat Kadyrov’s murder killed: Kommersant (front page) reports that the Chechen presidential security service yesterday killed about 20 militants, including four field commanders close to Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev. The paper stresses that one of the killed militants, Suleiman Ilmurzayev, was the perpetrator of the 9 May murder of Chechen President Akhmat Kadyrov (Kommersant, Izvestia).

- Alu Alkhanov re-appoints Akhmat Kadyrov’s cabinet: Kommersant reports that Chechen President Alu Alkhanov on 8 November signed an instruction appointing ten ministers of the Republic’s cabinet. The paper stresses that nearly all the appointed ministers used to hold their posts under the late Chechen President Akhmat Kadyrov (Kommersant).

12 november 2004

- Acquittal in Chechen civilian murder overturned: The military board of the Russian Supreme Court has overturned the acquittal verdict issued to two officers of the Interior Forces, Khudyakov and Arakcheyev, who were accused of murdering three civilians in Chechnya. The court sent the case for a new trial (Interfax, Kommersant).

15 november 2004

- DM Ivanov announces army reduction in Chechnya by 1,000: Whilst on a visit to North Caucasus, DM Ivanov announced the reduction of army in Chechnya by 1,000 servicemen. He also said that one half of soldiers and sergeants serving in the North Caucasus military district are expected to serve on a contractual basis by the end of 2007. Nezavisimaya gazeta adds that the district will be strengthened by two mountain-infantry brigades that will be deployed in Dagestan and Karachayevo-Cherkesia – two the regions where Islamic extremism is reported to have spread (Nezavisimaya gazeta, Interfax, Izvestia).

17 november 2004

- FM Lavrov objects to Chechen separatists’ contacts in Europe: Interfax quotes FM Lavrov as saying yesterday that Moscow has no objections to meetings between representatives of the Soldiers Mothers’ Committees and the European authorities in Brussels to discuss the human rights situation in Russia, but thinks that contacts between the Committees’ representatives and Chechen separatists are unjustified (Interfax).

18 november 2004

- DM Ivanov presents figures on army casualties in North Caucasus: In an hour-long speech at yesterday’s annual conference of top military officials, Defence Minister Ivanov said that 1,270 servicemen were killed in the North Caucasus in 2001-2003. The Minister noted, however, that this number is decreasing every year. In Nezavisimaya gazeta’s view, Ivanov’s statement followed the aim of demonstrating to the world, and primarily to united Europe and its structures, the high price Russia is paying for the fight against international terrorism. Several dailies highlight Ivanov’s remark that there are 150-200 foreign mercenaries from over 50 countries in Chechnya, which provoked a scathing comment from Kommersant saying that “we can therefore conclude with certainty that Russia is waging a world war in Chechnya” (All media).

- Chechen Supreme Court hears kidnapping case: Izvestia reports that the Chechen Supreme Court yesterday began the hearing of a kidnapping and torture case. Policeman Sergey Lapin is facing charges of kidnapping Zelimkhan Murdalov, a resident of Grozny, in January 2001 (Izvestia).

19 november 2004

- Russia insists that Sweden close down Chechen separatist website: The Russian Foreign Ministry said yesterday that Russia expects Sweden to close down the Kavkaz-Centre, a Chechen separatist website re-launched by a Sweden-based provider several days ago, after being shut down in Lithuania and Finland (Interfax).

22 november 2004

- Cherkessia prosecutor resigns: Karachayevo-Cherkessia’s chief prosecutor, Vladimir Gannochka, submitted his resignation last Friday after weeks of regional unrest over the multiple murder linked to the son-in-law of the republic’s president. Commenting on the situation in Karachayevo–Cherkessia, Kommersant (Sat) notes that an additional 2,500 Interior Troops have been transferred to the republic from other regions, and Chechen President Alu Alkhanov, who arrived in Karachayevo-Cherkessia on a visit, called on the republic’s population “not to repeat the Chechen mistakes” (Izvestia, Kommersant, The Moscow Times).

- Belgium not to allow Soldiers’ Mothers meet Chechen emissary?: Nezavisimaya gazeta reports that the meeting between Soldiers’ Mothers representatives and Chechen separatist emissary Akhmed Zakayev, which was to begin yesterday in Brussels, may not take place, as the Belgian authorities refuse to guarantee immunity to Zakayev and have not issued visas to the Mothers’ delegation so far. The daily publishes a front-page interview with Valentina Melnikova, head of the Soldiers’ Mothers Union, entitled “Europe behaves in a strange way” (Nezavisimaya gazeta, Vremya novostei).

- Chechen arrested in Khlebnikov case: Musa Vakhayev, a native of the Chechen town of Urus Martan, was detained in Moscow in connection with the murder of Paul Khalebnikov, the editor of Forbes Russia, who was shot outside his office in July (All media).

23 november 2004

- Nezavisimaya gazeta publishes a commentary by Thomas Gomart (Institut français des relations internationales) entitled “Russia and the EU should grow up – the Russia-EU partnership is likely to continue to be used for mutual ignoring”. In the author’s view, the EU and Russia are unlikely to move towards rapprochement in the coming years. The author points to “fundamental disagreements” between Russia and the EU, which include the EU understanding of its laws as “the only model”, different views on the visa regime, the situation of Russia-speaking minorities in Latvia and Estonia, the situation in Chechnya and in the Caucasus, instability in Moldova and the power struggle in Ukraine.

25 november 2004

- Kidnapped Czech aid worker released in Chechnya: Miriam Jevikova, a Czech aid worker, was released in Chechnya after seven months in captivity. According to Gazeta, the Russian special services claim that no ransom was paid (the kidnappers had demanded $1 million for Jevikova’s release) (Gazeta, Interfax, Kommersant).

30 november 2004

- Suspected murderers of Paul Khlebnikov detained in Belarus: The Belarus Interior Ministry has confirmed that it has detained four people, including ethnic Chechens Dukuzov and Vakhayev, suspected by the Russian police of involvement in the murder of Russian Forbes editor-in-chief Paul Khlebnikov. Kommersant (front page) comments that investigators tend to stick to a new theory of the crime – the journalist could be murdered for an attempt to write a book on the embezzlement of state funds allocated for the Chechen restoration. Khlebnikov was murdered when leaving his office in Moscow in July (All media).

- Chechen separatist web site resumes work in Lithuania: According to Interfax, the Kavkaz-Centre Chechen separatist web site began operating again on Monday and the website’s administrators claim they are working on Lithuanian territory.

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