Persoverzicht Tsjetsjenië - oktober 2005

3 oktober 2005

- Chechen authorities investigate compensation payments: Several dailies, including Gazeta in a front-page article, report about Chechen authorities’ intention to publicize the results of an investigation into the embezzlement of funds allocated for the reconstruction of Chechnya. Kommersant argues that by this way, Chechen authorities reacted to the recent statement of President Putin, who pointed to corruption and nepotism in the Northern Caucasus. (Kommersant, Gazeta)

4 oktober 2005

- EU-Russia summit opens in London today: In London today, President Putin is due to participate in the EU-Russia summit, which takes place, as Kommersant notes, against the background of “stormy internal developments in the EU”. Blair’s office said that energy issues would top the summit’s agenda. In this context, dailies report on the EU-Russia Industrialists’ Round Table with broad representation of energy officials and a meeting between Economics Minister Gref and EU Trade Commissioner Mandelson. Rossiyskaya gazeta notes that at the summit, Moscow will “traditionally” raise the issues of the Russian-speaking population in the Baltic states, Kaliningrad transit and the situation on the post-Soviet space. RIA-Novosti cites a Kremlin source, who said that the issue of the North Caucasus would be likely raised, but pointed out that an EU’s offer to mediate politically in Chechnya is “absolutely unacceptable” for Moscow. Dailies report different positions on prospects for easing a visa regime between the EU and Russia. While Rossiyskaya gazeta highlights progress in talks on the visa facilitation, Novye Izvestia argues that this issue “would hardly be solved” in London. The media reiterate Russia’s opposition to readmitting illegal migrants that underpins a bilateral readmission agreement to go in parallel with the visa facilitation. In an article called “Commissioners do not want to pay for Siberia”, Vremya novostei points to a letter sent by European Commission President Barroso to Putin in the run-up to the summit, demanding Russia start a gradual abolition of payments for trans-Siberian over-flights as of 1 January 2005. (Kommersant, RG, Novye Izvestia, Vremya novostei, NG, MT, Interfax, RIAN; see also economic headlines and articles on the EU)

- PACE unlikely to monitor Chechen vote – Kosachev: Head of the Duma International Affairs Committee and head of the Russian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Konstantin Kosachev, expressed the view that the PACE is unlikely to send observers to the Chechen parliamentary election scheduled for 27 November. He noted that a so called “attendance delegation of five or six PACE members” might be sent instead. According to Oleg Orlov, a representative of the Memorial Human Rights Centre, Russian human rights groups will not monitor the Chechen vote either due to lack of preparations in the republic. (Interfax, Novye Izvestia)

6 oktober 2005

- Bilateral talks between British PM and President Putin: Energy and anti-terrorism were the main issues on the agenda during bilateral talks between Tony Blair and Vladimir Putin in London yesterday. Putin was quoted praising the openness of the British security services in recent anti-terrorist cooperation. It is also reported that the UK will start to import Russian gas and oil. Putin presented Russian awards to British sailors who assisted in the rescue operation of a Russian mini-submarine crew earlier this year. The Russian presidential aide Sergey Prikhodko quoted saying that “negative moments” still exist between London and Moscow and mentioned the presence in the UK of Chechen rebel envoy Akhmed Zakayev and exiled tycoon Boris Berezovsky.

- Head of Russian Central Electoral Commission (CEC) in Grozny: Meeting with Chechen election officials in Grozny yesterday, Alexander Veshnyakov of the Russian CEC said that the result of the Chechen parliamentary election is still an open question “despite rumours indicating the contrary”. He added that security can be guaranteed during the electionadding that some 30 international observers will be present on election day on 27 November and that there may be up to 1,000 domestic observers at the polling stations. The registration of candidates will end on 12 October. Currently 158 candidates representing 7 Russian parties have stated they intend to run for one of the 58 seats in the future Chechen Parliament. Izvestiya reports that one out of some 23 Chechen existing commercial television channels has been closed for lacking necessary registration. (Kommersant, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Interfax)

- Chechnya seeks Rosneft licence: Chechen President Alkhanov yesterday urged the state-owned oil company Rosneft to hand over its production licence for oil extraction in Chechnya to the local company Grozneftegaz in order to help, as it put it, ‘revitalize the republic’s shattered economy’ (RIAN)

7 oktober 2005

- Servicemen acquitted in killing Chechen workers: A jury in the North Caucasus District Military Court in Rostov-on-Don yesterday acquitted Interior Ministry officers, Yevgeny Khudyakov and Sergei Arakcheyev, who were charged with the murder of three Chechen construction workers in Grozny in 2003. The servicemen were acquitted by another jury, but the Military College of Russia’s Supreme Court had thrown out the previous non-guilty verdict. (Interfax, RIAN, Izvestia, Vremya novostei, Kommersant, NG)

12 oktober 2005

- Policemen killed in Dagestan; clashes in Ingushetia: (i) The media report about another attack on policemen in Dagestan yesterday, during which two police officers were killed and another one was wounded. (ii) Fighting between police and militants was reported yesterday in Ingushetia’s Sunzha district. (iii) Federal Security Service officials report that two gunmen linked to Al-Qaeda were killed yesterday on Chechen-Ingush border. Federal losses were not reported. (Gazeta, RG, Kommersant, Izvestia, Novye Izvestia, Interfax, MT)

- Chechen elections: In a front-page article, Izvestia reports about the parliamentary elections in Chechnya as today is the deadline for the registration of candidates. The daily points to a record number of potential candidates, over 430, which intend to compete for 58 seats in the bicameral Chechen Parliament. Regional branches of federal parties, including United Russia, Union of Rightist Forces (SPS), the Communist Party, Rodina and Zhirinovsky’s LDPR, have also submitted documents to the Chechen elections commission. (Izvestia, Novye Izvestia)

13 oktober 2005

- Military court acquits officers accused of killing Chechen civilians: The North Caucasus District Military Court yesterday acquitted interior troops servicemen Yevgeny Khudyakov and Sergei Arakcheyev, who were accused of killing three Chechen workers in Grozny in 2003. Russian human rights activists have described the court decision as prejudiced. Chechen President Alu Alkhanov said the jurors who cleared the officers of the murder were biased. (Interfax, RIAN, Gazeta, Novye Izvestia, Vremya novostei)

14 oktober 2005

- Attack on Kabardino-Balkaria: over 60 militants killed; civilians, police suffer losses: All media report about a militant attack on Kabardino-Balkaria’s capital Nalchik on Thursday morning, providing conflicting data on the death toll and the number of militants who attacked the city. Gazeta argues that the developments in Nalchik have shown the inability of law enforcement bodies to prevent large-scale extremist attacks and points to a well-organised terrorist network in the republic. Officials predicted some terror attacks of militants could happen soon. Republican authorities increased security measures before the attack. The Federal Security Service has denied allegations that about 300 militants were involved in the attack. Republican President Arsen Kanokov is reported by Rossiyskaya gazeta as saying up to 150 members of the Jamaat group of both local and outside Wahhabis participated in the attack. Russia’s 1st Deputy Interior Minister Alexander Chekalin and Deputy Prosecutor General Vladimir Kolesnikov said that up to 100 militants were involved in the attack, while Baluyevsky did not rule out that the number of the attackers might be up to 200. Kolesnikov named the wanted terrorists Anzor Astemirov and Ilyas Gorchikhanov as the organisers of the attack. On a web site KavkazCentre, Chechen rebels claimed the responsibility for the attack committed by an alleged local militant Islamic group Yarmuk. General Staff Chief Gen. Baluyevsky dismissed reports about the killing of Shamil Basayev, saying that he had no evidence of his involvement in the Nalchik attack. Russia’s Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev today announced that 61 militants were killed, 17 were detained. He stressed that additional 1,500 interior forces officers and 500 special task force troops have been dispatched to Nalchik. Latest official reports indicate that a total of 13 civilians, 12 policemen were killed, while 120 people were brought to hospitals. Electronic media report that eight more militants were killed in today’s operation to free hostages in the remaining hotbeds. (ii) The State Duma will discuss the developments in Nalchik and in the Northern Caucasus in general at its closed session on 19 October. (All media)

17 oktober 2005

- Moscow to address UK on Zakayev statements – Lavrov: In a televised interview yesterday, Lavrov stressed that Russia would address the UK on the need to take measures with regard to the statement of Chechen separatist emissary Akhmed Zakayev on the terrorist raid on Nalchik, in which he called the attack “a success in the fight for the independence of Chechnya”. Lavrov is quoted as saying that Moscow “will insist on finding out what exactly he said and what platform was given to him”. (Interfax)

19 oktober 2005

- Order to kill masked people. Chechen interior Minister Ruslan Alkanov ordered police to shoot and kill any masked people who appeared on the street, the media report. (Gazeta, Izvestia, Moscow Times)

20 oktober 2005

- Two militants, policeman killed in Dagestan: (i) According to official reports, two militants and members of Chechnya’s Wahhabist underground were killed in a special operation yesterday in Dagestan’s town of Khasavyurt. One police officer was also killed and three others were wounded in the operation. (ii) Dailies continue to report on a series of attacks on the houses of law enforcement officers early on Wednesday in the Ingush village of Yandare. (RG, Kommersant, Gazeta, Izvestia, NG, MT, Vremya novostei)

- HR group worried about Russophobia in Russia’s republics: In a report presented yesterday, the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights [which receives an EU grant under the European Initiative on Democracy and Human Rights] expressed concern over violations of human rights of ethnic Russians in Russia’s republics. According to the NGO, “the highest level of Russophobia” is fixed in the Northern Caucasus and primarily in Chechnya. Ethnic Russians are also persecuted in Siberian and Far Eastern republics, such as Yakutia, Tuva and Mountain Altai. (Interfax, RG, Novye Izvestia)

21 oktober 2005

- Russia ranks 138th in press freedom index: Kommersant reports that the Annual Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders put Russia on the 138th place out of 167 due to complete state control of TV channels and the biased coverage of the situation in Chechnya. (Kommersant)

- Republican Party barred from Chechen elections: The Chechen elections commission yesterday did not register the list of candidates for the 27 November parliamentary elections submitted by the regional branch of the Republican Party on the ground that over 23% of signatures collected in party’s support were declared invalid. (Kommersant, NG, Gazeta)

24 oktober 2005

- Registration of candidates for Chechen vote completed: The Chechen elections commission on Saturday concluded the registration of candidates for the 27 November parliamentary elections. Commission’s head Ismail Baikhanov announced that 357 candidates will run for the 58 seats in the bicameral republican parliament. Eight regional branches of political parties, including United Russia, the Communists, Rodina, Zhirinovsky’s Liberal Democratic Party, Yabloko, the Union of Rightist Forces, the People’s Will and the Eurasian Union party, are running in the elections. (Interfax, Gazeta, Kommersant, MT)

- Armenian, Chechen attacked in Moscow: (i) In a front-page article, Novye Izvestia report that an ethnic Armenian and a Chechen student were attacked and stabbed on Saturday in Moscow. (ii) According to media reports, up to 1,000 local students and activists of the pro-Kremlin Nashi (’Ours’) youth movement rallied yesterday in Voronezh to protest against the recent murder of a Peruvian student. (Novye Izvestia, Izvestia, Kommersant, Interfax)

25 oktober 2005

- Interior Ministry to take control of Chechen mountains: Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev said his Ministry’s special operations units will replace Defence Ministry troops deployed in mountainous areas across Chechnya. (Interfax, Vremya novostei)

- Kaczynski’s win in Polish runoff high in the news: The media report broadly on the victory of the Mayor of Warsaw Lech Kaczynski in the runoff in Poland and focus on the future development of Russian-Polish relations. Some experts suggest that under the new president, bilateral relations will remain cool, but economic relations will not be affected. RIA-Novosti quotes Kaczynski as having expressed the view that bilateral economic relations “will continue to advance dynamically”. In a front-page article, Rossiyskaya gazeta writes that the new president of Poland will be “a difficult leader for both the EU and Russia”. Dailies, including Izvestia in a front-page article, note that Kaczynski was the initiator to name one of the Warsaw streets after Chechen/Ichkerian separatist president Dzhokhar Dudayev. (All media)

26 oktober 2005

- Alkhanov visiting Strasbourg: Gazeta reports on a visit by Chechen President Alu Alkhanov to Strasbourg, where he is expected to raise the issue of the Council of Europe’s monitoring mission to the 27 November Chechen parliamentary elections. (Gazeta)

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