Persoverzicht Tsjetsjenië - Oktober 2004

1 oktober 2004

- Conscripts will not be sent to Chechnya: The autumn conscription period has been launched today. Vremya novostei reports that due to numerous conscription deferrals, only every tenth citizen of conscription age will serve in the army. “Conscripts will not be sent to Chechnya”, proclaim Gazeta and Izvestia in one voice. The papers quote colonel-general Vasily Smirnov as saying that beginning next year, not a single conscript will serve in Chechnya (Vremya novostei, Gazeta, Izvestia, Kommersant).

4 oktober 2004

- Moscow police chief denies remarks on Klebnikov case: Moscow police chief Pronin denied on Friday that he had announced the arrest of two Chechens earlier in the week linking them to the murder of Forbes editor Paul Klebnikov (All media).

5 oktober 2004

- PACE session to discuss terrorism, Chechnya: Nezavisimaya gazeta reports that terrorism and Chechnya are among major issues to be discussed at the PACE session which opened in Strasbourg yesterday. On Thursday, three reports on North Caucasus are to be presented. It is expected that Chechen President Alu Alkhanov and CoE Human Rights Commissioner Alvaro Gil-Robles will take part in the debate on Chechnya. Noting that the Russian authorities are currently reacting in a milder way to the CoE documents on North Caucasus, the paper quotes head of the Russian delegation in PACE Konstantin Kosachev as praising two of the three PACE reports on North Caucasus – the ones on the political situation in Chechnya and on the refugee problem. In Kosachev’s view, they give better assessment than documents adopted at previous PACE sessions. Interfax reports that PACE voted yesterday to include Russian-Georgian relations in the agenda for its Thursday debates. Gazeta points to the importance of Russian proposals that are to be discussed during the PACE debates on terrorism. It is proposed, in particular, to spread to Russia the validity of the European warrant for the arrest of terrorists and drug dealers (Interfax, Nezavisimaya gazeta, Gazeta, Kommersant).

- Chechen President to be sworn in today: The recently elected Chechen President Alu Alkhanov will be sworn in today. The location of the inauguration ceremony is not revealed for security reasons. Interfax quotes Chechen Prime Minister Sergey Abramov as saying that a new Chechen government will be formed within next week. Trud carries an interview with Alkhanov (Interfax, Nezavis)

- Danish Ambassador called to Russian Foreign Ministry: Interfax reports that Danish Ambassador to Russia Lars Vissing was called to the Russian Foreign Ministry yesterday where he was told that the Danish authorities who are tolerant of accomplices to Chechen terrorists are responsible for any possible consequences of their actions (Interfax).

6 oktober 2004

- Alu Alkhanov sworn in as Chechen President: Alu Alkhanov was sworn in as the Chechen President in an official ceremony in Grozny yesterday. The media point to unprecedented security measures at the ceremony, which took place five months after the assassination of Alkhanov’s predecessor, Akhmad Kadyrov. Vremya novostei adds that the inauguration ceremony did not look “pompous” and was held at a lawn near the government buildings. Commenting on the strengths and weaknesses of the new Chechen President, RIA Novosti emphasizes that although Alkhanov does not have Akhmad Kadyrov’s authority, “he can do much more” than his predecessor, as even during the election campaign, he set himself the tasks avoided by all other candidates: to unite Chechnya, which has been torn apart by tribal disagreements, and to work on fundamental changes to centuries-old traditions that are holding back Chechnya’s development Novye Izvestia stresses that it was Akhmat Kadyrov’s son Ramzan who presented President’s ID to Alkhanov. The paper interprets it as an indication that Ramzan Kadyrov is a likely Kremlin’s nominee for the Chechen President in 2008 – when he reaches the eligible age. (All media).

- PACE political committee in general supportive of Russian resolution on terrorism: (i) The PACE Political Affairs Committee approved yesterday a resolution drafted by the Russian delegation on fighting terrorist challenges. However, according to head of the Russian delegation Konstantin Kosachev, the committee dropped provisions from the resolution on the need to fight people who support terrorist actions by political, financial, material and media means. Kommersant adds that a major difference in the approach of Russian and a number of PACE delegates came to surface when they discussed whether democratic freedoms or the fight against terrorism are of primary importance. An article in Vremya novostei is entitled “Is the fight against terrorism a secondary affair?” (ii) Vremya novostei notes that Deputy Prosecutor General Sergey Fridinsky described as “biased” the data on kidnappings in Chechnya, presented in a PACE report.

7 oktober 2004

- PACE to discuss Chechnya and Russian-Georgian relations today: The PACE session will focus on the discussion of the situation in Chechnya and Russian-Georgian relations today. Gazeta stresses that the Assembly’s draft resolution on Chechnya calls for a political solution to the Chechen issue and also claims that Russian military servicemen supply weapons for Chechen militants. In the paper’s view, the Assembly is unlikely to adopt amendments to the resolution that the Russian delegation plans to propose. Vremya novostei believes that “the total score” in the ideological fight for Chechnya depends on the impression that visiting Chechen President Alkhanov will produce on the Assembly today. “It seems that the first clash with European democrats completed in favour of the new Chechen President”, comments the daily on yesterday’s presentation by Alkhanov at the Political Affairs Committee of PACE (Gazeta, Vremya novostei, Novye Izvestia).

8 oktober 2004

- PACE discusses Chechen issue: Today’s dailies assess PACE debates on Chechnya that took place in Strasbourg yesterday with varying degree of optimism. Nezavisimaya gazeta argues that the tone of the adopted resolutions was “more than tough”. Kommersant notes, however, in an article entitled “Alu Alkhanov failed exams” that the Russian delegation “liked” two out of three resolutions – on the political situation and on the refugee issue, although PACE deputies rejected an important Russian amendment on the recognition of Chechen President Alkhanov’s legitimacy. The third resolution, on human rights, gave rise to heated debates between the Russian delegation and PACE rapporteur Rudolf Bindig, says Kommersant, and the majority of 20 amendments proposed by the Russian delegation to Bindig’s resolution were rejected by PACE delegates. “PACE did not recognise the legitimacy of elections in Chechnya but is prepared to cooperate with Alu Alkhanov – this is the controversial result of the Chechen President’s visit to Strasbourg”, comments Izvestia. Gazeta presents the most positive picture of yesterday’s discussions in Strasbourg, noting that the hearings on the Chechen issue were, on the whole, “favourable for Russia”. The daily quotes FC member Mikhail Margelov as saying that “for the first time since 1999, Europe has acknowledged that Vladimir Putin has a political plan on Chechnya”. The daily also points to the importance of the adopted amendment that casts doubt on the non-involvement of Chechen separatist leaders in the recent terrorist attacks in Russia. Vremya novostei reports on the issue under the headline “PACE resolution turned out to be better than expected”. “Alkhanov seeded hope”, reads a title in Rossiyskaya gazeta (All media).

11 oktober 2004

- Two militants from Basayev’s group killed in Ingushetia: An operation against members of a group of militants controlled by Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev has been completed in Nazran. Two militants were killed in the fighting (Vremya novostei, Interfax).

13 oktober 2004

- European Court to hear Chechen residents’ complaints: The European Court of Human Rights will hold its first open session tomorrow to hear complaints filed by six Chechen residents against Russia. The plaintiffs who lost their relatives, were injured or lost property seek compensation for moral and material damage and demand an investigation of their cases by the Russian authorities, says Gazeta (Interfax, Gazeta).

14 oktober 2004

- Russia welcomes Finland’s decision to close Chechen separatists’ website: Interfax quotes the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Information and Press Department as saying that Russia welcomes Finland’s decision to shut down the Kavkaz-Centre website which belongs to Chechen separatists. According to the Ministry, “such websites are an information weapon of international terrorists” (Interfax).

- Chechen terrorists have reportedly penetrated in the U.S.: The media comments on the Washington Times’ report, which said that U.S. security officials were investigating an intelligence report that 25 Chechen terrorists secretly crossed the Mexican border into the U.S. in July (Izvestia, The Moscow Times, Vremya novostei).

15 oktober 2004

- Strasbourg court starts hearing of Chechen cases: The Strasbourg Human Rights Court started hearing complaints by six Chechen residents yesterday. Kommersant quotes Russian representative, Pavel Laptev, as saying that the complaints should not be accepted, as the plaintiffs had not exhausted all effective means of legal defence inside Russia (Kommersant, Interfax, The Moscow Times).

- Sergey Abramov appointed Chechen premier: Sergey Abramov has been re-appointed Chechen Prime Minister. Interfax quotes Abramov as saying that there will be no radical changes in the composition of the Chechen government (Interfax).

18 oktober 2004

- An attack on Chechen emissary?: Interfax quotes FSB spokesman Boris Labusov as saying that incidents that happened at the houses of Chechen separatist emissary Akhmed Zakayev and former Russian security officer Alexander Litvinenko could be their own attempts to attract attention to themselves. According to media reports, Molotov cocktails were thrown into Zakayev’s and Litvinenko’s houses in the early hours of Friday (Interfax, Kommersant, Gazeta, The Moscow Times, Rossiyskaya gazeta).

- Ramzan Kadyrov re-appointed first deputy Prime Minister of Chechnya: Ramzan Kadyrov has been re-appointed first deputy Prime Minister of Chechnya. Interfax quotes Chechen PM Abramov as praising Kadyrov’s managerial potential (Interfax).

- Ethnic Chechens, Ingush students expelled from North Ossetian universities: Novye Izvestia (front page) reports that hundreds of ethnic Chechen and Ingush students were expelled from North Ossetian universities falling victim of escalating tensions in the region over the Beslan hostage tragedy.

20 oktober 2004

- FM Lavrov meets EU Troika: Several dailies carry articles reporting on yesterday’s meeting of FM Lavrov with the EU ministerial Troika in the Hague. Izvestia reports in an article entitled “Russia and the EU decided not to dramatise relations” that Lavrov called on his EU partners not to ‘dramatise’ relations as the EU and Russia are strategic partners. The paper further notes that Lavrov, however, did not forget “to remind the strategic partner” that Russia, Lithuania and the EU must find a solution to the Kaliningrad transit of goods issue as soon as possible, while Latvia and Estonia should defer to the judgement by the OSCE and the CoE on the rights of national minorities. “Moscow expects real actions rather than assurances from Brussels by the November EU-Russia summit”, adds the daily. Noting that yesterday’s talks focused on the “strategic partnership” accord, The Moscow Times stresses that one point of contention has been how far the EU would be able to interfere in events in areas that “Russia deems its own turf”, such as Moldova, Chechnya and Georgia. Lavrov left for Prague yesterday for talks with Czech leaders (Izvestia, The Moscow Times, Kommersant, Vremya novostei, Nezavisimaya gazeta).

- Ramzan Kadyrov appointed Kozak’s advisor: Ramzan Kadyrov, the first deputy Prime Minister of Chechnya and the son of the late Chechen President, was yesterday appointed as an adviser to Putin’s envoy in the Southern Federal District, Dmitry Kozak. In Kommersant’s view, this appointment will make Kadyrov the “most influential person in Chechnya”, as he will be both number two in the Chechen government and a representative of the federal authorities. However, according to Vremya novostei, the appointment cannot be interpreted as a new step in Ramzan Kadyrov’s political career but was rather aimed at satisfying his growing political ambitions. At the same time, the paper does not exclude that Kadyrov’s appointment could also be an attempt to restrict his activities and influence in Chechnya (Kommersant, Vremya novostei, Rossiyskaya gazeta).

21 oktober 2004

- Aslan Maskhadov prepared for talks with soldiers’ mothers: Kommersant reports that Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov has agreed to meet representatives of the Soldiers Mothers’ Committees that proposed discussing the Chechen settlement issue. Representatives of the Chechen authorities are convinced, however, that it is up to prosecutors rather than NGOs to pursue a dialogue with Maskhadov, adds the daily (Kommersant).
New hearing of Chechen civilians’ killing opens in Rostov-on-Don: A Rostov-on-Don military court opened a preliminary hearing yesterday in the retrial of four military officers accused of killing six Chechen civilians. A jury had acquitted the officers but the Supreme Court ordered a re-trial (The Moscow Times, Izvestia, Vremya novostei).

25 oktober 2004

- Rally held in Moscow to protest against the war in Chechnya: The Moscow Times (front page) reports that at least 2,000 people gathered on Moscow’s Pushkin square on Saturday to call for an end to the war in Chechnya. The paper notes that it was one of the largest antiwar protests in years and it also provided a rare public platform for broader criticism of President Putin’s rule. Interfax, however, puts the number of protestors between 600 and 1000, saying they were mostly journalists. Nezavisimaya gazeta reports on the issue under the headline “The Moscow meeting against the war in Chechnya unexpectedly turned out to be mass and anti-government” (Interfax, The Moscow Times, Nezavisimaya gazeta).

26 oktober 2004

- Chechen President: treaty on division of powers with federal centre to be ready soon: Gazeta carries a front-page article entitled “Alkhanov asks nothing but for oil revenues”. The article quotes Chechen President Alu Alkhanov as saying that the draft treaty on the division of powers between the federal centre and the republic will be ready this week. According to the daily, the Chechen President no longer insists on financial independence of the republic, wanted by his predecessor Akhmat Kadyrov, but hopes that the Kremlin will give Chechnya its oil revenues. In Vremya novostei’s view, however, this would make Chechnya politically more independent than any other Russian region (Gazeta, Vremya novostei, Kommersant, Novye Izvestia).

- Chechen administration ready for any contacts for the sake of peace: Speaking at the first press conference in Moscow after his official inauguration, Chechen President Alu Alkhanov said that his administration is ready to negotiate with representatives of leaders of armed bands, noting, however, that talks with Maskhadov and Basayev are impossible. Sharing its impression on Alkhanov’s press conference, Vremya novostei (front page) notes that unlike the radically minded Chechen Vice-Premier Ramzan Kadyrov, President Alkhanov has repeatedly underlined that while fighting against bandits, “the authorities must not apply bandits’ methods” (Vremya novostei, Nezavisimaya gazeta, Itar-Tass, Interfax, The Moscow Times).

- The Moscow Times briefly reports in an article entitled “EU Chechnya aid” that the EU will provide €10 million this year in aid for the victims of the conflict in Chechnya.

27 oktober 2004

- Opposition leaders targeted in adverse publicity campaign: Kommersant reports on the appearance in Moscow metro trains of leaflets depicting controversial businessman Boris Berezovsky, Duma deputy from the Rodina block Sergey Glazyev as well as liberal opposition leaders Irina Khakamada and Vladimir Ryzhkov next to Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev. The leaflet carries the title “Participants in the talks on Russia’s extermination”. According to the daily, Khakamada’s press service linked the appearance of the leaflets to the upcoming constituent congress of a new party to be set up by Irina Khakamada (Kommersant).

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