Military helicopter shot own in Chechnya: A military helicopter was shot down by a missile in Chechnya on Saturday, killing the two pilots. On Friday DM Ivanov confirmed that a missile was also the reason of another helicopter crash – on 19 August, when 118 people were killed (Kommersant, Izvestia, Rossiyskaya gazeta, Interfax, Vremya novostei, Trud, The Moscow Times).
Judd to visit North Caucasus: Lord Judd, co-chairman of the State Duma – PACE Joint Working Group on Chechnya, arrived in Moscow yesterday. Interfax reports that Lord Judd and Leonid Slutsky, Deputy Head of the Duma’s International Affairs Committee and a member of Zhirinovskii’s Duma faction, are expected to leave today for the North Caucasus, where Judd intends to meet Presidential Plenipotentiary Representative for the Southern Federal District Viktor Kazantsev.
Chechnya: Eight policemen killed in Chechen town of Shali: Eight Chechen and Russian policemen were killed and ten badly wounded on Monday night when a shell exploded near the vehicle they were riding. Most newspapers comment that the most probable explanation for the incident was friendly artillery fire, which is denied by high-ranking representatives of the federal forces. They repeatedly claim that this was an act of terrorism (All media).
Lord Judd visits Grozny: A PACE delegation headed by Lord Judd arrived in Chechnya yesterday to survey the needs of refugees and assess the prospects for a political settlement. The delegation plans to visit today the sight of the Monday explosion in Shali (Kommersant, Parlamentskaya gazeta, The Moscow Times, Interfax).
Chechnya: (i) Lord Judd finds life of refugees “grim”: Izvestia and The Moscow Times publish detailed reports about the visit of PACE delegation headed by Lord Judd to Chechnya. The delegation found “grim” the living conditions of returnees from refugee camps: though none of returnees admitted that they had been forced to return, many of them say they had been promised a much better life. (ii) Investigation into death of 8 policemen does not confirm that they were killed by friendly fire: Investigation into the death of 8 policemen in Shali on Monday has proved that a vehicle carrying the officers was blown up by a remote control mine, attached by rebels to a pole and detonated when the vehicle was passing by. It is stressed however, that the final results of investigation will be known in three days (Interfax, Parlamentskaya gazeta). (iii) Maskhadov dead?: Popular tabloid Moscovsky komsomolets reported on Wednesday that, according it its sources, Chechen rebel leader Maskhadov was killed in a Russian air strike or murdered by Arab comrades.
Duma and PACE representatives share impressions of visit to Chechnya: Following this week’s two-day Duma-PACE visit to Chechnya, Deputy Chairman of Duma’s International Affairs Committee Slutsky commented that “Russia has managed to normalize the humanitarian situation in record time”. PACE representative Lord Judd was less optimistic and said that “there are still a lot of difficulties in every day life there”. At the same time, Lord Judd noted that all refugees, with whom he had a chance to talk, said they want to stay in Grozny rather then return to tents (Nezavisimaya gazeta, Interfax).
Head of Chechnya’s safest region murdered: The head of Chechnya’s Nadterechny district administration Akhmed Zakayev was killed in a terrorist act yesterday. Zavgayev came under fire from a passing car when he was returning home. Nadterechny district has the reputation of being the safest and the most successful in economic reconstruction district in Chechnya, largely due to the personal efforts of Zakayev (All media).
UN resumes humanitarian programmes in Chechnya: Yesterday the United Nations resumed its humanitarian mission in Chechnya after a six-week suspension following the kidnapping of an NGO worker (The Moscow Times, Interfax).
General Staff Chief witnesses extortion at checkpoints in Chechnya: Chief of General Staff Kvashnin, who is currently on an inspection tour in Chechnya, travelled in the Chechen capital under disguise and witnessed extortion of money at a checkpoint in Grozny. Following the inspection, several officials were punished. Speaking to journalists yesterday, Kvashnin expressed readiness to pull troops out of Chechnya if local administrative heads take full responsibility for the situation (Kommersant, Vremya MN, Izvestia, Vremya novostei, Interfax).
Car accident in Grozny ends with shooting: A collision between a military truck and a city bus in Chechnya’s capital ended in shooting between the military and the police, who came to investigate the case. One policeman and one military serviceman were killed (Kommersant, Vremya novostei).
Chechen refugees protest against returning to Chechnya: Kommersant reports that yesterday a group of some 30 Chechen women and children living at present in the Tver region near Moscow rallied near the Interior Ministry saying they do not want to return to Chechnya.
Chechen district military commandant involved in terror attack: Investigation into a terror attack in the Chechen town of Shali on 3 September, when 8 police officers were killed and 11 wounded, has revealed that a Chechen lieutenant-colonel, deputy military commandant of Shali Askhabov, was behind the attack. During the search of his house, a stock of weapons and explosives was found. The investigation has also found that Askhabov had earlier served as a brigade general under Chechen separatist leader Dudayev (Kommersant, Novye izvestia, Vremya novostei, Interfax).
Explosion kills 8 and injures 28 people in Grozny: Yesterday eight people were killed and 28 injured as a result of a terrorist attack in the centre of Grozny. A landmine was planted in direct proximity to hundreds of people waiting for shuttle buses (All media).
Chechen referendum on constitution likely to be held in December 2003: Head of Russia’s Central Electoral Commission Veshnyakov announced yesterday that the best date for holding a referendum on Chechnya’s constitution is 14 December 2003, the date of nation-wide parliamentary elections. He also suggested including bills on Chechen parliamentary and presidential elections in the referendum. If the proposed date for the referendum is confirmed, parliamentary and presidential elections in Chechnya will not be held before 2004 (Kommersant).
Monday bus blast executed by teenagers: The Monday explosion of a passenger bus in Grozny, which killed 7 people on the spot, was organized by three teenagers, who were promised a reward in foreign currency by rebels from Isa Munayev’s group. Isa Munayev is known to be close to former Chechen leader Maskhadov (Kommersant, Interfax).
Six anti-terrorism units to be created within Interior Ministry: Interior Minister Gryzlov said on Friday that the Ministry was creating six special anti-terrorism units, two of which would be deployed to fight rebels in Chechnya in November (The Moscow Times).
Three years of Chechen war: The sad anniversary is recalled by few media. Novye izvestia quotes official statistics that during the three years 4 thousand Russian soldiers and officers have been killed, while the losses in the civilian population have been much higher. The Moscow Times comments that the goals declared by the federal government, have not been accomplished.
Lord Judd presents report on Chechnya: Yesterday Lord Judd delivered a report on Chechnya at the PACE session in Strasbourg. Lord Judd believes the CoE should play a key role in organizing a wide political dialogue towards a political settlement in Chechnya. He admitted that there have been favourable changes regarding the return of refugees and the development of peaceful life in Chechnya, noting at the same time the inefficiency of judicial authorities, insufficient security for civilians and problems of healthcare and education systems (Interfax). Izvestia comments that the report on Chechnya was unusually “calm and friendly” towards Russian authorities.
Videotape indicates connection of Maskhadov to Mi-26 crash: All major TV channels showed yesterday a videotape, which was obtained by a Turkish news agency, showing former Chechen leader Maskhadov implicated in the Mi-26 helicopter crash on 19 August, which claimed the lives of 121 servicemen. Some media comment that this new evidence makes the prospects of a political dialogue with Maskhadov even more difficult (Kommersant, Izvestia, The Moscow Times).
In a battle near the Ingush village of Galashki 14 servicemen were killed and a Mi-24 helicopter was shot down. Defence Minister Ivanov reacted that the rebel incursion could be the final provocation leading Russia to launch attacks in Georgia. Nezavisimaya gazeta comments that “everything is heading towards a global war in the Caucasus. Kommersant says that “Russia can start military action in Georgia right away”. Some media note that among the rebels killed during the battle was British journalist Roderick Scott. (RIAN, Vremya novostei).