Persoverzicht Tsjetsjenië - juli 2009

1 juli 2009

Chechen separatist leader behind Nevsky Express train bombing – investigators: A Novgorod court began hearings on Tuesday in the 2007 bombing of a Moscow-St. Petersburg ‘Nevsky Express’ train. Two Ingush suspects in the case told the court that they had been tortured by police. One of the suspects called the charges against him “madness”. The media points out that investigators said the suspects are members of a militant group headed by Chechen separatist leader Doku Umarov. (Gazeta, Kommersant, MT, VN)

2 juli 2009

Blasts hit railroad in Dagestan; Amnesty criticises authorities over failure to uphold rule of law in Northern Caucasus: (i) Two blasts hit a railroad in Dagestan’s Karabudakhkent district early on Thursday, killing a sapper. In a separate incident yesterday in Dagestan, a traffic police officer was killed. The media reports on a militant attack also yesterday on a police station in Derbent, in which two people were killed. In a report on recent violence in the Northern Caucasus, issued on Wednesday and cited by The Moscow Times (Reuters), Amnesty International criticised the Government’s failure to uphold the rule of law in the region. Amnesty International said that stability could return to the Northern Caucasus if human rights abuses were thoroughly investigated. (ii) The press refers to an AFP report which said that Chechen separatist leader Akhmed Zakayev, who has been granted asylum by Britain, is conducting talks in Norway with Chechen Parliament speaker Dukvakha Abdurakhmanov. As director of the Chechnya Peace Forum organisation Ivar Amundsen told AFP , the talks are dedicated to discussions of “long-term perspectives of stability in Chechnya”. (Kommersant, Lenta.ru, MT, Novye Izvestia, RIAN, VN)

3 juli 2009

Two soldiers killed in Chechnya blasts; attempt on Chechnya President’s life thwarted: (i) Two military servicemen were killed and at least five others wounded in three explosions yesterday in Chechnya. (ii) Chechen Interior Minister Ruslan Alkhanov told the press on Thursday that law enforcement agencies have carried out an operation to thwart an assassination attempt on Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov. Alkhanov said a resident of Chechnya’s Shali district was killed in the operation and his female accomplice was detained. (iii) Chechen Parliament speaker Dukvakha Abdurakhmanov yesterday dismissed reports alleging that he was in talks with Chechen separatist leader Akhmed Zakayev, who has been put by Russia on an international wanted list. (iv) In a report released on Thursday, Human Rights Watch said “Chechen authorities have burned more than two dozen houses in the past year to punish relatives of suspected militants, and the Kremlin has chosen to ignore the practice”. One of the report’s authors, Tatiana Lokshina, said no one had died in any of the incidents. (Gazeta, Interfax, Lenta.ru, MT, Novye Izvestia, RIAN

6 juli 2009

Nine Chechen policemen killed, ten wounded in Ingushetia ambush: (i) Nine Chechen policemen were killed and ten others wounded as a Chechen police convoy came under fire in Ingushetia’s Sunzha district on Saturday. The policemen were travelling from Chechnya to Ingushetia on a joint counterterrorism operation. Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov denounced the ambush and ordered that “those bandits must be identified, found and eliminated”. Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev said a large-scale counterterrorist operation was launched in the Sunzha district, and that additional investigative teams have been sent from Grozny to the district. The head of the Investigations Committee Alexander Bastrykin said on Friday that some attacks in the Northern Caucasus are linked to a growth of financial support from abroad. (ii) A contract serviceman was wounded as suspected militants opened fire on a Defence Ministry Mi-8 helicopter on Sunday in Chechnya. (iii) President Medvedev has signed a decree appointing Ingush PM Rashid Gaisanov as Ingushetia’s acting President. In the meantime, the media reports that Ingush President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov who was seriously wounded in the 22 July assassination attempt has regained consciousness. (Gazeta, Interfax, Izvestia, Kommersant, NG, Novye Izvestia, RG, RIAN, VN)

7 juli 2009

‘Caucasus-2009’ military exercises end in south Russia: The ‘Caucasus-2009’ military exercises which began on 29 June ended in south Russia on Monday. The exercises involved units of the North Caucasus Military District, the Air Force, the Black Sea Fleet, the Caspian flotilla, airborne troops, as well as units of the Federal Security Service, the Emergency Situations Ministry and the Interior Troops. Kommersant-Vlast weekly magazine comments on the ‘Caucasus-2009’ exercises in the context of a possibility of a new conflict between Russia and Georgia. Nezavisimaya Gazeta points out that the exercises did not prevent an increase in militant activity in the Northern Caucasus. (Kommersant-Vlast, NG, RIAN)

Judge in ex-colonel Budanov case gets 7 years in prison for fraud: The Moscow garrison military court has sentenced former Deputy Chairman of the North Caucasus District Military Court Vladimir Bukreyev to seven years imprisonment for fraud. The media recalls that Bukreyev had sentenced former army colonel Yury Budanov to ten years in prison for the murder of a Chechen girl. (Gazeta, Izvestia, Kommersant, Novye Izvestia, RG)

8 juli 2009

Chechnya’s Kadyrov determined to complete special operation in Chechnya, Ingushetia: (i) In an interview with Interfax, also published in Izvestia, Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov stressed the he is determined to bring the ongoing operation against militants in Chechnya and Ingushetia to an end. He disagreed with the federal headquarters in the Northern Caucasus which estimated the number of members of illegal armed groups operating in Chechnya at as many as 500 to 700: according to Kadyrov, there are currently 50 to 70 militants. Kadyrov pointed out that the 22 June assassination attempt on Ingush President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov was organised by warlords Doku Umarov and Magas Yevloyev. He also confirmed his contacts with Chechen separatist emissary Akhmed Zakayev, who has been granted asylum by the UK. (ii) Six people, including two police officers, were wounded in an explosion yesterday in a public square in Grozny. In separate incidents in Ingushetia, a senior forensic expert at Ingushetia’s Interior Ministry was wounded, and a riot police officer was killed. (Gazeta, Interfax, Izvestia, Kommersant, Novye Izvestia, VN)

9 juli 2009

Militant leader detained in Ingushetia; Moscow dismisses Amnesty International report on rights abuses in Northern Caucasus: (i) Four militants were reportedly killed in a joint operation by Ingush and Chechen police in Ingushetia’s Sunzha district. Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov said that key militant leader Rustaman (Rustem) Makhauri who is considered as a close ally to Chechen separatist leader Doku Umarov has been detained in the operation. Kommersant writes that Ingush law enforcement officers are checking whether Makhauri was involved in the 22 June assassination attempt on Ingush President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov. (ii) The Russian Foreign Ministry has criticised a recent Amnesty International report on human rights abuses in the Northern Caucasus as “politicised”. At the same time, the Ministry admitted that the situation in the region remains complicated. (Interfax, Kommersant, Lenta.ru, MT, VN)

Regional press review

Grozny Inform news agency reports on an attack on a Chechen police convoy on 4 July in Ingushetia in which nine Chechen policemen were killed and ten others wounded. Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov visited Ingushetia on the same day and demanded that “those bandits must be identified, found and eliminated as soon as possible”. Grozny Inform reports on the implementation of the Chechen President’s programme for reviving mountain villages in Chechnya, and mentions assistance for construction of houses provided by the Danish Refugee Council to families in the village of Ulus-Kert in Chechnya’s Shatoi district.

According to Interfax’ SCAN information system, Ramzan Kadyrov ranked fifth among the most frequently mentioned personalities by the press in the week of 29 June – 5 July.

10 juli 2009

Probe into Ingush leader assassination attempt: Ingush Interior Minister Ruslan Meiriyev announced on Thursday that the investigation into the 22 June assassination attempt on Ingush President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov is close to completion. Chechen Interior Minister Ruslan Alkhanov added, in turn, that militant leader Yevloyev, nicknamed 'Magas', organised the attack on Yevkurov. Yevloyev is also mentioned by the press as former police officer Ali Taziyev. In the meantime, Gazeta writes that Ingush police do not rule out that militant leader Rustaman Makhauri who has recently been detained in an operation in Ingushetia might have been involved in the attempt on the Ingush President’s life. The daily speaks of different views of Chechen and Ingush law enforcement agencies over who was the organiser of the attempt. (Gazeta, Kommersant, RG, Vedomosti)

13 juli 2009

16 militants killed in Ingushetia, Chechnya, Dagestan over weekend: (i) Vremya novostei reports that 16 militants were killed in separate operations and clashes with suspected militants over the weekend in Ingushetia, Chechnya and Dagestan. The press notably reports on a joint operation by Chechen and Ingush police on Saturday in which four militants were killed, including Azamat Makhauri, nicknamed ‘Yasir’, a brother of militant leader Rustaman Makhauri who has recently been detained in an operation on the Ingush-Chechen administrative border. (ii) According to a poll by the Public Opinion Foundation (FOM), cited by Novye Izvestia, 40% of those polled expressed the view that the federal authorities do not control the situation in the Northern Caucasus. 60% of respondents called Ingushetia the most unstable region in the Northern Caucasus, 50% of Russians said the situation in Dagestan is unstable, and 43% of those polled view the situation in Chechnya as unstable. (iii) The European Court of Human Rights has accepted a lawsuit filed by the family of Ingush opposition journalist and the owner of the Ingushetiya.ru web site Magomed Yevloyev, who was shot dead while in police custody in August 2008. The family complains about violating the Human Rights Convention’s article on the right to life. (Interfax, Kommersant, Novye Izvestia, RG, RIAN, VN)

14 juli 2009

More violence in Northern Caucasus: (i) Two servicemen were killed and at least five others wounded in an attack on a military motorcade of the Defence Ministry’s mountain brigade on Monday in Dagestan. In a separate incident also yesterday, a police officer was killed in Dagestan’s town of Khasavyurt. Three militants and one Interior Troops serviceman were killed in an operation on Tuesday in Dagestan's Karabudakhkent district. Seven policemen were injured in a car explosion yesterday in the Chechen capital Grozny. (ii) Russia’s envoy to the European Court of Human Rights, Georgy Matyushkin, said the Russian Government has drafted a bill that envisions compensation payments to people affected by terrorist attacks and counterterrorism operations. (Interfax, Kommersant, Vedomosti, VN)

15 juli 2009

Northern Caucasus: (i) Meeting acting Ingush President Rashid Gaisanov yesterday in Moscow, President Medvedev praised “good results” in the fight against militants in Ingushetia. Gaisanov told Medvedev that the socio-political situation in Ingushetia is “stable”. (ii) Ingush Interior Minister Ruslan Meiriyev said that more than 40 militants have been killed or detained in an operation on the Chechen-Ingush administrative border. (iii) Two police officers and two contract servicemen were killed in a shootout with militants in Chechnya’s Vedeno district on Tuesday. (iv) Kommersant reports that a militant leader was among three militants killed in an operation on Tuesday in Dagestan. (Interfax, Kommersant, Lenta.ru, MT, NG, RIAN, VN)

16 juli 2009

Memorial NGO activist abducted and killed in Northern Caucasus: Activist of the Memorial human rights centre Natalia Estemirova was abducted yesterday in Grozny and found dead with gunshot wounds in Ingushetia later in the day. President Dmitry Medvedev was “outraged” by Estemirova’s killing and ordered an investigation, his spokeswoman Natalia Timakova told reporters on Wednesday. Investigators say the murder is most likely connected with Estemirova’s work. The press writes that she had been investigating kidnappings and disappearances in Chechnya for the Memorial NGO. In a statement, the Swedish Presidency of the EU condemned the murder of Estemirova and called on the Russian authorities to “swiftly and thoroughly” investigate the crime. RIA-Novosti cites statements by US National Security Council spokesman Michael Hammer and State Department spokesman Ian Kelly, condemning the killing. Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov said the murder of Estemirova aimed to discredit the peoples of Chechnya and Ingushetia, while the head of Memorial Oleg Orlov blamed the Chechen authorities for the crime. Chechen human rights ombudsman Nurdi Nukhazhiyev is quoted by Kommersant as having compared the murder of Estemirova with the killings of lawyer Stanislav Markelov in January 2009 and Novaya Gazeta’s journalist Anna Politkovskaya in October 2006. (Gazeta, Interfax, Kommersant, MT, Novye Izvestia, RIAN, VN)

17 juli 2009

Ingush minister’s car attacked: According to news agencies reports, the car of a senior official in the restive Russian province of Ingushetia was attacked. The minister for sport in the regional administration, Ruslan Balayev, was initially reported dead in his car. However other reports seem to put in doubt his assassination. Latest wires from Interfax report that two assistants of the deputy Sports Minister were killed in the attack. Ingushetia has overtaken its neighbour Chechnya as the main centre of violence along Russia's turbulent southern flank. (Interfax)

Estemirova's murder sparks international outrage: German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Russia to clarify the circumstances surrounding her killing. Medvedev called it "a very sad event" and said he was determined to find and punish Estemirova's killers. Different motifs and reasons behind the assassination are in the focus of the reports. Three official versions are being discussed: professional activities of Ms. Entemirova; provocation by the enemies of Chechen leadership; and robbery. Meanwhile, Chechen President Kadyrov vowed to personally oversee the investigation into the brazen murder of a Memorial human rights activist even though the victim’s supporters accuse his own security forces of being involved in the slaying. (All media)

20 juli 2009

“Memorial” closes its office in Grozny:Russian human rights group Memorial is temporarily suspending its activities in Chechnya "because what we have been doing involves mortal danger for people," a member of Memorial's executive said on Saturday, referring to this week's abduction and assassination of Natalia Estemirova in Grozny. (Kommersant, Interfax)

21 juli 2009

Human rights defenders to work in Chechnya despite Estemirova death: Human rights organizations continue to work in Chechnya. At the same time, they support the decision of the Memorial Human Rights Centre to suspend its activity in the republic. Moscow Helsinki Group Chairperson Lyudmila Alexeyeva said that the Group used different tactics in Chechnya. "We do not send our representatives there; we work with local human rights defenders," she said. Despite the suspended activity of Memorial, Moscow Helsinki Group still has partners in Chechnya, Alexeyeva said. (Interfax, Vremya)

Medvedev meets high-ranking security and military officers:At the meeting on Monday Medvedev demanded better coordination of security services in North Caucasus. Medvedev said the latest events in Ingushetia, Dagestan and Chechnya have shown that the situation in the North Caucasus remains increasingly complex, despite considerable steps that have been taken. The President had also informed military officers about his meeting with US president Obama. (Rossiskaya Gazeta, Gazeta, Interfax)

27 juli 2009

Talks with Chechen Separatist leader:Chechen separatist leader and self proclaimed prime minister of Chechen Republic in exile Akhmed Zakayev, and a senior representative of the republic met for talks in Oslo. This was the first contact between the two sides in eight years and resulted in Akhmed Zakayev’s agreement to recognize Kadyrov as legitimate President of Chechnya. While some observers are curious what may be a reaction from Kremlin taking in account that Zakayev is still on Russia's most wanted list, the others believe that Kremlin will overlook such contacts in understanding that this is a price to pay for the stability in Chechnya. (All media)

28 juli 2009

Policeman's car blown up in Ingushetia:A car belonging to a policeman was blown up on Monday evening in a village in Ingushetia, a Russian republic in the North Caucasus, the blast seriously damaging the vehicle but hurting no one. According to Internal ministry spokesman, the "unclear explosive device" had been planted under the car. The incident occurred in Ordzhonikidzevskaya village. (Interfax)

29 juli 2009

Former militants will fight with “comrades” in arms: Chechen President Kadyrov instructed his adviser Shaa Turlaev and MP Magomed Khanbiev to assist Chechen law enforcement agencies to eliminate terrorist groups in the mountains. Both Khanbiev and Turlaev are former militants and have a good knowledge of combat operations in the mountains. Meanwhile the suicide bomber who staged an explosion outside a movie and concert hall in Grozny yesterday has been identified. (Vremya Novostey, Interfax )

30 juli 2009

Yamadaev survives contract assassination in Moscow:Isa Yamadayev, a member of influential Chechen clan, was attacked in Moscow on Tuesday evening. Yamadaev survived the attempt because he had previously warned law enforcement authorities about a possible attack and they set a trap in his apartment. Yamadayev links this attack with the murder of his brother Ruslan Yamadayev in Moscow and an assassination attempt on his other brother Sulim Yamadayev in Dubai earlier this year. (Vremya, Kommersant, Gazeta, the Moscow Times, Interfax)

Militants in Pankisi Gorge again: Nezavisimaya article report that Chechen militants may again be using the Pankisi Gorge, from which they were expelled in a much-publicized operation by Georgian security forces in the fall of 2001, as a rear base. According the article up to 40 militants are assembled in the gorge and are ready to stage a series of terrorist acts in the north of Chechnya including assassination of Chechen President Kadyrov. (Nezavisimaya Gazeta)

31 juli 2009

Will Chechen separatists stop fighting? Militants will halt attacks on police from this weekend, their emissary Akhmed Zakayev was quoted as saying by Vremya Novostey newspaper on Friday. "From August 1, our fighters will not use arms against Chechen police except for self-defence," he said. The decision had been taken recently in Berlin at a meeting between exiled Chechen lawmakers and members of the Russian region's self-proclaimed government, the envoy said. According to observers it is unlikely that the militants will obey the order of Zakayev. (Vremya Novostey)

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