Persoverzicht Tsjetsjenië - Juni 2005

1 juni 2005

- Next Chechnya round table discussed: RIA-Novosti quotes Chairman of the Duma International Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachyov as having suggested that the second round table on Chechnya to be organised by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe will be held before the parliamentary vote in the republic. According to Kosachyov, the Russian delegation and PACE representatives differ in their attitude towards the participation of “moderate separatists”. (RIAN)

2 juni 2005

- Polish journalists detained in Ingushetia: According to media reports, three Polish journalists, who planned to film a documentary about Chechnya for the state-run Polish TV channel, have been detained in Ingushetia “for unsanctioned video filming near the base of the Russian Combined Federal Force in the Northern Caucasus”. (Interfax, MT)

3 juni 2005

- Russian, Chinese, Indian foreign ministers meet: (i) A trilateral meeting of Russian, Chinese and Indian foreign ministers yesterday in Vladivostok is the focus of media reports. Foreign Minister Lavrov is reported as having stressed “common approaches of the three states to global problems”. Commenting on the UN reforms, the media quote Indian Foreign Minister Singh as having thanked Russia for backing India’s bid for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. (ii) Also yesterday, Lavrov announced that Moscow had information on the involvement of Chechen terrorists in the recent riot in the Uzbek town of Andijon. (All media)

- Maskhadov’s relatives back: The media report that all but one members of the family of Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov, who went missing last year, have returned home. According to Chechen Deputy Prosecutor Alexander Nikitin, the relatives did not explain their disappearance. The Memorial human rights group claims that the relatives were abducted by security officers of Chechen 1st Deputy Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov. (Interfax, Kommersant, Vremya novostei, Trud)

7 juni 2005

- Defence Minister disagrees with military prosecutor: (i) Visiting St. Petersburg yesterday, Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov harshly criticized the statement made by Chief military prosecutor Alexander Savenkov on the acquittal by a jury in Rostov-on-Don of Cap. Eduard Ulman and members of his special task unit, who were charged with the killing of 6 Chechen civilians. According to Ivanov, he does not understand “a legal expert [Savenkov] saying that the double acquittal of the suspect by a jury has nothing to do with justice”. (ii) Also yesterday, Ivanov announced that the number of non-combat deaths in the Russian army has declined in the past 5 years. (All media)

- Federal authorities, Chechnya draft treaty – Alkhanov: At a press conference yesterday in Moscow, Chechen President Alu Alkhanov announced that a treaty on the division of powers between the federal centre and Chechnya “is nearing completion” and that he would soon discuss the terms of its signature with head of Presidential Office Dmitry Medvedev. He also confirmed that a parliamentary vote in the republic is due to be held in November and suggested that up to 10 parties might win seats in the Chechen parliament. According to Alkhanov, 23 people went missing in Chechnya in the first 5 months of 2005, while federal forces were involved in 5-10% of all kidnappings. (Interfax, Kommersant, Izvestia, Gazeta, Novye Izvestia, MT)

10 juni 2005

- Russian granted political asylum in Germany: (i) In a front-page article, Nezavisimaya gazeta reports that Oleg Liskin, a Russian national and former Legprombank official, was granted political asylum in Germany. According to the daily, Liskin was wanted in Russia on charges of hooliganism and resisting police officers. Liskin claimed that he faced politically motivated prosecution in Russia due to his bank’s support of the Yavlinsky’s Yabloko party. The daily emphasizes that this was the first case of granting political asylum to Russians by German authorities since the ‘cold war’ period. (ii) Foreign Ministry representative, Alexander Yakovenko, is quoted as saying that Moscow has again accused Britain of using ‘double standard’ by sheltering “so called ‘new political emigres’” such as tycoon Berezovsky and Chechen separatist envoy Zakayev. (NG, Izvestia, MT, Interfax)

14 juni 2005

- Bomb derails Grozny-Moscow train: All media report on Sunday’s explosion 150 km south of Moscow which derailed a Moscow-Grozny passenger train. According to reports, over 40 passengers underwent medical treatment, five of them were hospitalised. The Moscow region prosecutor’s office opened an investigation on suspected terrorism. While nobody claimed responsibility for the explosion, most observers suggest that the bombing was designed to overshadow the Day of Russia holiday on 12 June. Rossiyskaya gazeta reports that some experts did not rule out that the attackers “have staged the bombing in imitation of Chechen terrorists”. At the same time, some security officers do not rule out that the bombing could be a “tactic” before a major terror attack. (All media)

- Putin: rejection of EU Constitution not to affect relations: (i) Following talks with Blair yesterday in Moscow, President Putin stressed that he does not expect that the rejection of the EU Constitution in France and the Netherlands would affect EU-Russia relations, adding that “nothing has changed” for Russia. He also expressed hope that the UK would help Russia advance its relations with the EU during its forthcoming EU Presidency and announced that he would visit Britain in early October for the next EU-Russia summit and a bilateral trip. According to Blair, his country will pay great attention to EU-Russia relations. (ii) Answering question on human rights criticism, Putin stressed that Moscow was “aware of this criticism, especially surrounding the Chechen events, just as criticism about Britain used to be heard in terms of Northern Ireland”. He asserted, however, that Russia is “opposed to the use of these issues for interfering in our internal affairs”, but added that Moscow welcomes friendly criticism. (Interfax, RIAN, Kommersant, MT)

15 juni 2005

- Nationalists stage train bombing?: According to experts, the homemade bomb used in the 12 June railway explosion and the explosive device used in March’s attack on UES CEO Anatoly Chubais were “somewhat identical”. Investigators claimed that terrorists behind the train bombing had acted “unprofessionally” and consider the version that radical Russian nationalists could have staged the bombing. They added, however, that a plot by Chechen terrorists is also considered. (All media)

- HR activists call on EU not to return Chechens to Russia: (i) Gazeta and Novye Izvestia quote a representative of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights as having called on the governments of EU Member States not to return Chechens back to Russia as they might face “human rights violations, abuse and menace” there. According to human rights activists, the number of Chechens who are seeking asylum in Europe increased by 68% in 2002-2003. Izvestia refers to a report prepared by the Norwegian Refugee Council, which says that over 3,000 Russian citizens, mostly Chechen refugees, were granted asylum in Europe, the U.S.A. and Canada in 2003. (ii) Ekho Moskvy radio reports that a rally to protest against the deportation of several Chechen families from France will be held today in Bourg-en-Bresse. (Gazeta, Novye Izvestia, Izvestia, Ekho Moskvy)

- Chechen authorities vs. Gantamirov: Dailies report on a letter signed by Chechen Prime Minister Sergei Abramov and Chairman of the Chechen State Council Taus Dzhabrailov, in which the authors appealed to the Kremlin to curb activities of former Chechen Deputy Premier and ex-Mayor of Grozny Bislan Gantamirov. The authors blamed Gantamirov for launching “a libel campaign” against Chechnya’s 1st Deputy Premier Ramzan Kadyrov. Experts believe that behind this lies an attempt to force Gantamirov out of the running. (Kommersant, Gazeta, Interfax)

16 juni 2005

- Chechen ombudsman vs. Memorial NGO: The media quote Chechnya’s Ombudsman Lema Khasuyev as accusing the Memorial human rights NGO of “the working off the money received from Western structures”. According to him, “Memorial has a principle: the worse the situation in Chechnya is, the better it is for Memorial”. A Memorial representative is quoted as having called Khasuyev’s statement “absurd”. (ii) 1st Deputy Chairman of the Chechen State Council Abu Aliyev yesterday stated that the number of abductions in Chechnya “has drastically increased” last month and that over 60 criminal cases on the abductions were opened in 2005. (Interfax, Vremya novostei, Novye Izvestia)

17 juni 2005

- Chechens accused of Russian Forbes’ editor’s killing: The Prosecutor General’s Office yesterday announced the completion of the investigation into last July’s murder of chief editor of the Forbes’ Russian edition Paul Klebnikov and charged two men of Chechen descent. According to investigators, a suspected Chechen terrorist named Nukhayev, whom Klebnikov interviewed for his book “Conversation With a Barbarian” and who is currently wanted in Russia on terrorism charges, was responsible for ordering the killing. (All media)

20 juni 2005

- Refugees escape Chechen village: Several dailies, some of them in front-page articles, report about tensions on the Chechen-Dagestani border after several hundred residents of the Chechen village of Borozdinovskaya have fled into neighbouring Dagestan to protest against the disappearance of 12 people after a police raid. The media report that most of the refugees are ethnic Avars, one of the main ethnic groups of Dagestan. Their village has been targeted by many ‘cleansing operations’ accompanied by disappearances. A Chechen Security Council official said that the outflow of the residents of the Chechen village to Dagestan might have been “orchestrated” by certain political forces with a purpose to destabilize the situation in Chechnya and other regions. (Interfax, Izvestia, Vremya novostei, Novye Izvestia, MT)

- Gantamirov vs. Chechen authorities: (i) At a press conference on Friday in Moscow, former Chechen Deputy Prime Minister and ex-Mayor of Grozny, Bislan Gantamirov, accused Chechen 1st Deputy Premier Ramzan Kadyrov of abductions and extortion. He claimed, inter alia, that the Chechen presidential security service led by Kadyrov was involved in the abduction of a representative of the state-run oil company Rosneft last week. Some experts believe that Gantamirov’s possible return to Chechnya could be viewed as an attempt by the federal centre to limit the powers of Kadyrov’s clan. (ii) The media report on a number of special operations in Chechnya on Friday and over the weekend, during which three militants and eight Russian servicemen were killed. (iii) Chairman of the Duma International Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachyov on Friday announced that the next Russia-PACE roundtable discussion on Chechnya might be held in Russia in November. (Interfax, Gazeta, NG, Novye Izvestia)

21 juni 2005

- Kozak in charge of abductions investigation: In a front-page article, Izvestia reports that Presidential envoy to the Southern Federal District Dmitry Kozak is personally in charge of an investigation into abductions in Chechnya and, in particular, the situation in the Chechen village of Borozdinovskaya. According to the daily, ethnic Avar refugees from Borozdinovskaya to neighbouring Dagestan, are under pressure by the local police to return to Chechen territory. (Izvestia, Kommersant, Novye Izvestia, Interfax)

- PACE Bureau turns down visit to Chechnya: (i) According to media reports, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe declined a proposal by PACE Monitoring Committee co-rapporteur Andreas Gross to visit Chechnya in early July to assess the pre-election situation. (ii) Dailies point to the up-coming debate on Russia’s implementation of its obligations before the Council of Europe at a PACE plenary session tomorrow. (Interfax, RIAN, RG, Izvestia, Gazeta, NG)

- Tax claims to Russian-Chechen Friendship Society: Izvestia reports that tax authorities demanded that the Nizhny-Novgorod-based Society of the Russian-Chechen Friendship should pay over 1 mln as a tax on revenues gained from foreign grants, including a micro-grant by the European Commission’s European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights. (Izvestia)

22 juni 2005

- Rally in support of refugees in Dagestan: Several dailies report on a rally held yesterday in Dagestan in support of the residents of the Chechen village of Borozdinovskaya, mainly of Dagestani descent, who had fled into Dagestan after a sweep operation earlier this month. Kommersant reports that more than 1,000 protesters also demanded the resignation of Dagestani leader Magomedali Magomedov. According to a Dagestani Security Council top official, the sweep operation was conducted by a Defence Minstry special unit. (Interfax, Kommersant, Izvestia, Gazeta, Novye Izvestia, MT)

- Fire at administrative buildings in Grozny: The media report that the headquarters of the federal Justice Ministry, the Chechen Interior Ministry and the Chechen Housing and Utility Sector Ministry were set on fire as a result of a series of blasts yesterday in Grozny. No casualties are reported. (Interfax, RIAN, RG, Vremya novostei)

23 juni 2005

- Events in Chechen village ‘act of sabotage’ – Presidential envoy: (i) Yesterday in Grozny, Presidential envoy to the Southern Federal District Dmitry Kozak called the recent sweep operation in the Chechen village of Borozdinovskaya, during which 1 person was killed and 11 went missing, “an act of sabotage against Russia”. He also announced that the Prosecutor General’s Office branch in the Northern Caucasus had taken over the investigation into the incident. According to Kozak, “the Northern Caucasus will destabilize if people start relocating from one region to another for ethnic reasons”. (ii) Officials refrained from commenting on allegations that the sweep operation was conducted by a Defence Ministry special unit which consists of ethnic Chechens. (iii) After meeting with Kozak and relatives of the kidnapped men, Chechen President Alu Alkhanov fired head of the Chechen district which includes Borozdinovskaya. (RG, Izvestia, Kommersant, Gazeta, Vremya novostei, MT)

24 juni 2005

- Commander denies special unit’s involvement in Borozdinovskaya case: (i) Interfax quotes commander of the Defence Ministry’s Vostok (‘East’) special unit Sulim Yamadayev as having denied claims of the unit’s involvement in a special operation in the Chechen village of Borozdinovskaya earlier this month which resulted into an outflow of some 1,000 residents, mainly of Dagestani descent, into neighbouring Dagestan. (ii) In an interview with Kommersant, Duma member from Chechnya and brother of the Vostok unit’s commander Ruslan Yamadayev argued that a campaign was launched by certain forces with a view to discredit federal troops in Chechnya. (iii) According to the Memorial Human Rights NGO, 142 residents were abducted in Chechnya this year, out of which more than 80 people went missing. (iv) Chairman of the Duma Foreign Relations Committee Konstantin Kosachyov is reported as saying that suggestions to invite ‘moderate separatists’ to the next roundtable discussion on Chechnya have been put forward by some Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe’s members. Also yesterday, Deputy Prosecutor General Vladimir Kolesnikov called Britain’s refusal to extradite Chechen separatist envoy Akhmed Zakayev “scandalous”. (Interfax, Kommersant, Izvestia, NG, Vremya novostei)

27 juni 2005

- Chechen authorities meet refugees in Dagestan: At a meeting yesterday in Dagestan with the refugees from the Chechen village of Borozdinovskaya, who fled into the neighbouring republic after a sweep operation, Chechen President Alu Alkhanov called on them to return their homes. Chechnya’s 1st Deputy Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov is reported as having taken “full responsibility that the refugees would not be forced to go back to Chechnya”. In a televised interview yesterday, Presidential envoy to the Southern federal District Dmitry Kozak stated that “there is no chance of no return”. However, dailies underline that despite offers of an objective investigation and assurance of safety, more than 1,000 refugees have refused to return to Borozdinovskaya. Russia’s Deputy Interior Minister Arkady Yedelev, who also met with the refugees, denied reports on the sweep operation in the village saying that “all that happened there was organised by illegal armed groups”. (Kommersant, RG, Gazeta, NG, Vremya novostei, Interfax, MT)

28 juni 2005

- Ombudsman follows Borozdinovskaya situation: (i) Russia’s Human Rights Commissioner Vladimir Lukin yesterday called the Borozdinovskaya incident “not unique”, adding that he follows the developments there closely. (ii) Chechen President Alkhanov yesterday appointed Chechnya’s 1st Deputy Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov head of a state commission for settling the situation in Borozdinovskaya at “the request of the village residents”. The commission will investigate the disappearance of 11 local residents who went missing during a special police operation earlier this month. Kommersant reports that more than 1,000 village residents, who had fled into Dagestan, are refusing to return to their homes until the end of the investigation. (RG, Interfax, RIAN, Kommersant, Izvestia, Gazeta)

29 juni 2005

- Kadyrov persuading refugees to return to Chechnya: Chechnya’s 1st Deputy Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov is quoted as having denied allegations that the Chechen police was involved in a sweep operation in the Chechen village of Borozdinovskaya, which led to an outflow of the village residents to neighbouring Dagestan. The media report that despite his offer to guarantee security, the refugees are still refusing to return home. (Interfax, Kommersant, Gazeta, Vremya novostei)

- European Court of HR receives 150 complaints from Chechen residents: According to President of the European Court of Human Rights Wildhaber, the Court has received 150 complaints from Chechen residents, while some 12,000 complaints were filed with the Court by Russian citizens. (Interfax, Novye Izvestia)

30 juni 2005

- Refugees returning to Borozdinovskaya – envoy: According to Presidential envoy to the Southern Federal District Dmitry Kozak, all of the refugees from the Chechen village of Borozdinovskaya, who had fled into neighbouring Dagestan after a raid in which one person was killed and 11 went missing, are likely to return home from Dagestan by Friday. The media note that some 120 refugees began returning after Chechnya’s 1st Deputy Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov offered them security and compensations for destroyed housing. (Izvestia, Kommersant, Gazeta, MT, Interfax)

- Foreign minister expects OIC to monitor Chechen elections: Visiting Sana yesterday to attend a ministerial meeting of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Lavrov emphasized that Moscow expects that the OIC will send its observers to the parliamentary vote in Chechnya (Interfax, NG, Vremya novostei)

- French judge to exchange information on Chechen terrorists: Vremya novostei publishes an interview with French High Court judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere who is scheduled to meet head of the Federal Security Service (FSB) Nikolai Patrushev in Moscow “to exchange information on the links between Chechen and European Islamist terrorists”. (Vremya novostei)

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