Memorial Human Rights Center

Maly Karetny pereulok, 12 Moscow Russia

Tel. (495) 225-31-18


November 13th 2007

A general responsible for war crimes about to “modernize” the Russian Army’s officer corps?

Several Russian media declared on November 13th 2007 that lieutenant-general Vladimir Shamanov was appointed Head of the Central Administration for combat training and services of the Russian armed forces. They quoted Shamanov himself explaining that he considers the “officer corps’s modernization” as one of his main tasks in the context of his new function.

A “high rank source within the Defense Ministry of the Russian Federation” declared later on to RIA Novosti that the Ministry does not dispose of any official information about Shamanov’s appointment. “When such an official document is available, you will come to know it”, the interviewee said.

Thus, it seems quite likely that in the future the training and education of Russian armed forces will be under the supervision of a person directly responsible for the perpetration of war crimes in Chechnya.

During the “Second Chechen War”, as Shamanov was commander of the force “Zapad”, his name became a synonym of mass and gross human rights violations.

At the conflict’s very beginning, on September 25th 1999, he tried to prevent the civil population from leaving the zone of operations. The crimes committed in Shamanov’s “zone of responsibility” gained notoriety, as for instance the air bombardment of a refugees’ convoy near the town of Shami-Yurt on September 19th 1999, the execution of inhabitants of the town of Alkhan-Yurt earlier in December 1999 and the bombing of peaceful inhabitants in the town of Katyr-Yurt, declared “security zone”, on February 4th 2000.

In two of the said cases, the European Court of Human Rights gave a judgment providing for the abolition of the procurator’s decrees on the cessation of investigations in the criminal cases linked to the “absence of the crime’s committer”. If Russia was keen on complying with its obligations concerning the enforcement of the European Court’s decisions, a new investigation should be launched concerning Shamanov.

Instead of that we can observe the consideration of Shamanov’s return to the army as its main “tutor”.