FROM THE CONFLICT ZONE
BULLETIN OF HUMAN RIGHTS CENTER “MEMORIAL”
(the issue prepared by HRC “Memorial” in Nazran)
‘Memorial’ Human Rights Center presents its latest information bulletin showing the results of its monitoring of human rights abuses in the armed conflict zone in the Chechen Republic and the neighbouring Republics of Ingushetia and North Osetia
Your questions and comments, please, send to:
386100 Republic Ingushetia, Nazran, Mutalieva, 46 Human Rights Centre “Memorial”
phone/fax + 7 (8732 ) 22 23 49
II. The Situation in the Chechen Republic and Republic Ingushetia: October 2004
According to HRC “Memorial”’s data*, during October 2004:
(*The human rights center carries out monitoring in 5 out of the 17 regions of the Chechen Republic, therefore the following data is incomplete):
1.Killed: 10 persons
2. Kidnapped: 36 persons
NB! Given the specific nature of the monitoring carried out in the Chechen Republic, it has to be acknowledged that the information received over the past two months is less than usual and will be gradually supplemented over the following few months. Therefore, regrettably, the numbers of those killed and abducted in October 2004 will inevitably grow.
II. From the “Chronicle of Violence”
On 3 October in the village Chechen-Aul, in Groznenskii Selskii Region, several households were damaged as a result of artillery fire.
According to the village’s inhabitants, a little after eight o’clock in the evening two artillery shells exploded in the courtyard of two private homes on Partizanskaya St. Fortunately the shells did not land in the house itself and there were no fatalities. The houses in the epicentre of the explosion were partially damaged.
On 9 October in Grozny in the area of the Central Market, Magomed Khamidov (born 1968, resident in Starye Atagi village) was detained by members of unidentified security and law enforcement structures. At 9.30 am, when Hamidov was in his sister’s shop, armed men in camouflage uniform and speaking in Chechen, entered the shop. Without introducing themselves or showing their identification papers, they took him away.
Before the start of military actions Hamidov lived in Grozny, spent several years in Norway and was a member of an international organisation for migration. He returned home at the beginning of July 2004.
The reason for Magomed Hamidov’s abduction is not known. According to his relatives, he never belonged to any armed groups and was never engaged in any illegal activity.
On 11 October the body of a young man was brought in to the Kurchaloevskii ROVD. The body had been found not far from Avtury village, Shalinskii district of Chechnya. On the same day “sweep” operations were carried out in Avtury and Serzhen-Yurt. The villages were closed off by local and federal security and law enforcement structures. According to the local inhabitants, they were looking for Maskhadov; many young men were detained and then released after being checked. An examination of the body which had been found established that death had been a result of multiple shrapnel wounds. It was also established that the dead man was an inhabitant of Geldagan village in Kurchaloevskii region – Lom-Ali Derlishev (born 1983). When the body was brought to the ROVD ther wounds were still bleeding, which showed that he had been killed recently. He was wearing a black tee-shirt, yellow trousers and white trainers. The body was collected by his relatives and buried.
On 14 October at about 2.30 in the morning in a house on Greidernaya St in the village of Novyi Sharoi (Achkhoi-Martanovskii Region), Aslan Badaev (born 1981) was seized by unknown men armed with automatic weapons and dressed in camouflage uniform, and taken away in an unknown direction. The whereabouts of the young man have yet not been established.
On 15 October the 45-year-old Ruslan Bulatov, a native of Urus-Martan, and registered on 1st Polevaya St of that town, was abducted by members of the security forces of the RF. He had recently been living in one of the temporary residence centres in Grozny, from where the abduction was carried out.
A few days later Ruslan was abandoned on a rubbish tip on the edge of town. According to his neighbours he had been severely beaten and had been tortured.
Ruslan Bulatov does not know exactly where he was held. All he remembers clearly is a woman’s scream which could be heard from time to time. Evidently it was the screams of a detained woman who was also being tortured.
On 24 October at about 2 p.m. in Prigorodnoye village of Groznenskii (Selskii) Region, unidentified, masked men in camouflage uniforms arrived in 3 cars (VAZ 21099 model, silver colour with darkened windows) and abducted Ramzan Murtaliev (born in 1982/83, resident on Zarechnaya St).
On 25 October the kidnapped man’s relatives, with the help of personal contacts among the police and the Russian military, managed to find Ramzan located with the so called Oil Regiment which is deployed in the area of the Northern Bazaar in Grozny. His family were able to secure the young man’s release.
In reply to the indignant relatives’ question why had the young man been detained, the soldiers of the Regiment replied that it seemed he had been mistaken for some armed fighter.
On 25 October Shamil Bibulatov and his son Aslanbek Taramov were abducted from the village of Novye Atagi in the Shalinskii District of Grozny. According to his fellow villagers, Taramov was mentally ill. The same day the abductors abandoned Aslambek on the outskirts of the neighbouring village of Chechen-Aul; he had been shot in the leg. In the same place was also found a man from the settlement of Chiri-Yurt, Ismailov, who had been severely beaten. Ismailov had been detained at the same time as Taramov. On the same day, 25 October, three men were also abandoned at the same place. All had been beaten and were taken to the hospital in Chiri-Yurt.
Shamil Bibulatov’s fate remained unknown at the beginning of November. According to the other villagers, he had already been detained once before during a “sweep” operation which had taken place in Novye Atagi between 12 and 14 October. The reason for his detention was the long beard which Bibulatov wore. What had served as the reason for his abduction this time is not known.
On 29 October members of unidentified security forces abducted three young men from their home in the village of Churt-Togi (Petropavlovskaya station) in Groznenskii (Selskii) Region: Yveis Gulaev (born 1982), Bislan Magomadov (born 1978), and one other young man (who refused to give his name).
The last of these was released on the following day, after torture and beatings. The young man does not know where he was held, as he was blindfolded almost all the time. The blindfold was taken off only for a few seconds during interrogation, where he saw before him three men who had clearly been brought by force. It was suggested that they might make an identification. However the detained men could not identify him.
The inhabitants of the settlement, indignant at the actions of the security sevices, blocked the main road which passed through the village and demanded that the authorities take immediate measures to look for the abducted men. The Head of the regional Police came out to talk to them and promised to find the abducted men. At midday a man in camouflage drove up to the crowd and advised that one of the abducted men would soon be brought to the village.
Indeed, on the same day Bislan Magomadov was brought to the village and released. He had been held for almost 24 hours in a Division under the command of Ramzan Kadyrov in the village Avtury in Shalinskii Region. There he had been beaten and tortured. After returning home Bislan continued to cough blood, but his mother, afraid that might be abducted again, is too scared to consult a doctor.
Explosions and attacks on the Police and the Military
On 9 October on the main road between the settlements of Chiri-Yurt and Novye Atagi in Shalinskii Region unknown attackers blew up a car (“UAZ” model) in which staff from the Shatoiskii commandant’s office were travelling. As a result two Russian soldiers were killed.
During the night of 3 to 4 October, in the village of Sernovodsk in Sunzhenskii Region of the Chechen Republic, unidentified armed men stole hand weapons from members of the Sunzhenskii ROVD. Weapons were stolen from the expert criminologist Asker Murtazaliev and the local policeman Alikhan Susurkaev. An unsuccessful attempt was also made to steal hand arms from local inspector Lom-Ali Khildikharoev.
According to Lom-Ali Khildikharoev, at about 40 minutes past midnight three armed and masked men broke into his house. At this time were present Lom-Ali himself, his wife Liza, their young baby and Lom-Ali’s mother Baizant. The unknown men, threatening to shoot, demanded money and weaponry (a Makarov pistol and an AKM automatic rifle). Lom-Ali replied that he did not have any money, and would not give up his weapons, adding that during his time as an inspector, he had never done harm to any man, and if the strangers did not abandon their demands, then they would have to kill everyone in the house, which they were welcome to do if they were not afraid of blood revenge. At the same time Lom-Ali’s wife, who was with the baby in the bedroom, contacted the ROVD by portable radio and informed the duty officer that unknown men had attacked their house. Lom-Ali managed to cock his pistol and demanded that the stangers leave the house. The armed men left, threatening to return. Men from the ROVD arrived at the site 40 minutes later.
On 6 October at the Central Market in Grozny two unidentified men opened fire with automatic weapons and killed Adam Ortsev (born 1980) from the Shalinskii Department of ORB-2 (Department for combat of organised crime)The unknown assassins managed to get away.
On 13 October at 3am Shamil Khataev, a 30-year-old inhabitant of Novyi Gordali village was called out of his house by unknown men. Not suspecting anything, Shamil went out into the courtyard in response to the call, where he was shot in the throat by an automatic weapon. The intruders made their escape. Shamil was taken to Gudermess Municipal Hospital No 2 in a serious condition.
On 21 November 2002 his brother Vakha was abducted by Federal troops, and is still listed as missing. According to fellow villagers, Vakha was abducted instead of Shamil, who was wanted for his membership of the combatant troops. Later Shamil was amnestied and had been working recently in Kadyrov’s security service.
On 31 October at 7.30am a car (Zhiguli 7 model), parked at the side of the Staropromyslovkoye Highway, exploded at the moment there was passing by a cortege of vehicles containing members of the Security Service of Kadyrov returning from a special operation. As a result of the explosion, three members of the Security Service were injured. Several cars in the cortege were seriously damaged.
By 8am the injured had been brought to the Municipal Hospital No 8. After a guard was set up for their protection both in the hospital unit and around it, there was a second explosion, which occurred in the hospital’s courtyard. On this occasion also the explosives were contained in a Zhiguli 7.
The second explosion caused the death of one member of the Security Service, according to information from the Law Enforcement Agencies. Another 18 received injuries of varying degrees of severity. They comprised 14 Kadyrovtsy and 4 civilians.
A large number of cars, situated nearby, were damaged in the explosion at the hospital. The quite recently renovated hospital building was also damaged, and houses within a 100-200 metre radius had their windows blown in.
Following this repeat attack, the Security Service people took away all their wounded, apparently to the Russian base at Khankala. In order to transport them they requisitioned all the vehicles of Hospital No 9 and the town’s First Aid center. At 10.50am on the same day Ibragim Aleroev (born 1959), a worker at the First Aid Center, was brought to the hospital. According to the doctors and hospital attendants, it became clear that the Kadyrovtsy had demanded his car in order to transport their wounded to Khankala. Aleroev refused, explaining that the First Aid Center did not even have enough petrol to allow them to help the town’s inhabitants. At this point the incensed Security Service men shot him several times with automatic weapons
The full “Chronicle of Violence” for October (in Russian) can be found at the HRC “Memorial” website at:http://www.memo.ru/hr/hotpoints/caucas1/rubr/2/index.htm
Discovery of a Mass Grave in Grozny
On 8 October in the morning, a mass grave was discovered in Grozny at the corner of Mayakovskogo St and Chicherina St.
On the previous evening, workers undertaking digging work (laying pipes under a house foundation) had come across 3 bodies in polythene bags at a depth of approximately 1 metre. This ‘dreadful discovery’ was reported to the Law Enforcement Agencies – ROVD and the Procurator’s Office of Zavodskii Region – at about 6pm. On the next day (8 October) it was about one o’clock by the time an investigative Brigade from the Procurator’s Office and ROVD arrived at the burial site. “Memorial” monitors were already there, having received news about the burial site in the morning. During the course of operational-investigative work it was established that all three corpses were female. The cause of death of all three women was provisionally stated to be gunshot wounds to the head. The women were buried a few metres from buildings where, in 2000-2001, was housed a division of Russian Federation troops, and near a checkpoint manned by Federal troops which had been set up in 2000 and removed in 2003.
As the court medical expert and investigators were carrying out their work, Procurator Sirotinin of the Staropromyslovskii Region and his assistant arrived. The exhumation process was filmed by journalists from Chechen Television and Radioand by a colleague from “Memorial”. When he saw the colleague from “Memorial” with a video camera, Sirotinin asked to see what she had filmed. The monitor handed over the camera. Taking hold of the camera, the Procurator paid compliment to the quality of the material filmed, then immediately gave instructions to his subordinate: “Confiscate the cassette, record it onto another tape, then erase the original; interrogate her as a witness.” When the Memorial monitor objected to this arbitrary outrage, Sirotinin announced: “The camera to be confiscated too“.
“Memorial” continued to register protest at these illegal actions. Sirotinin replied that he represented the Law, and knew better what should be done. The wrangle continued for over half an hour, with the representatives of the Procurator’s Office behaving in an agressive threatening manner. However the “Memorial” monitors were backed up by people who had gathered, members of the Chechen OMON as well as a former member of Kadyrov’s Security Service who happened to be there. They told the procurators that they would not let them leave until they returned the camera film. Finally they reached a compromise: the representatives from both Procurator’s office and “Memorial” would go to the OMON where a copy of the tape would be made. At this point the incident was closed.
Sackings for Expressing Condolences to the Relatives of an Insurgent
During the night of 6 to 7 October, not far from the village of Nikkhita in Kurchaloevskii Region, during a special operation carried out by members of Russian Special Forces, four insurgents were killed, including Ayub Guchigov, an inhabitant of Kurchaloi village.
On 9 October Guchigov was buried by his relatives. During the three days of tezet (mourning), many fellow-villagers came round to the Guchigovs’ house to express their condolences. A week after the funeral the Chief of the Kurchaloevskii ROVD, Roman Edilov, called to his office three members of his staff - local inspector Alkhu Umakhanov and policemen Ilias Vakhidov and Said-Emi Minkailov - and demanded that they write a resignation letter. Edilov explained that the demand came from Ramzan Kadyrov. All three wrote resignation letters addressed to the Minister of Internal Affairs of the Chechen Republic. Soon instructions were issued for the resignation of the Head of the Administration of Kurchaloi Damilbek Elbiev, the Head of the Department of Education of the Region, Adlan Guchigov, and the Director of the Kurchaloi Secondary School No 2, Honorary Teacher of Russia, Makhmud Dokhtukaev. They were also forced to write their own resignation letters. The reason for the sacking of all these people was that they had expressed their condolences to the relatives of the insurgent who had been killed.
Round Table Discussion on Abductions
On 29 October in the “Grozinform” Agency in Grozny a round table discussion was held to discuss the subject of abductions. Invitations to take part in the round table discussion were sent to representatives of the Law Enforcement and Security Agencies and Human Rights Organisations. Those invited included V. P. Kravchenko, Procurator of the Chechen Republic, A. Rozhin, Head of the UFSB of the Russian Federation for Chechen Republic, G. P. Fomenko, Military Commendant of the Chechen Republic, V. E. Petrov, Head of Criminal Investigations Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Chechen Republic, L.Khasuev, Representative for Human Rights in the Chechen Republic, N. Estemirova from the Human Rights Center “Memorial” as well as representatives from the Union of Women-Mothers of the Chechen Republic.
However the Procurator, Head of the UFSB and the Military Commendant did not turn up for the Round Table discussion.
V.E. Petrov, in reply to questions from the human rights workers, announced that the number of abductions had decreased. In the first 9 months of this year, he said, 284 people had been abducted. Moreover, in 119 cases, according to what he said, the identity of the abuctors had been established and 10 of these crimes had been uncovered. The Head of Criminal Investigations stressed that unfortunately these were all cases where the kidnappers had turned out to be common criminals demanding a ransom. Petrov thought that more than half of all abductions took place in Grozny. Moreover, not one of the crimes was discovered to have been committed by members of Russian security or law enforcement agencies. In his opinion, the reason for this was the presence in Chechnya of a huge number of completely separate agencies with no co-ordination of action either between them, or, above all, with local police departments. The second reason was that the various agencies were too closed, and entry to their territory was not even allowed to senior members of the local MVD.
At the conclusion of the round table discussion, each participant was invited to suggest what measures, in his or her opinion, would curtail the practice of abducting people in the Chechen Republic. “Memorial” representatives talked of the necessity of outlawing the practice of taking hostage relatives of members of the combatant groups in order to force them to surrender. However, that same evening the main TV channels were broadcasting the statement by the General Procurator of the Russian Federation to the Deputies of the State Duma in which he advocated the legalisation of such hostage-taking.
The Trial Action at Law in the case of the Chechen Committee for National Salvation (CCNS)
On 25 October in the Nazran Regional Court of the Republic of Ingushetia took place the court case of the Regional Social Movement “Chechen Committee for National Salvation” (Chairman – Ruslan Badalov), submitted by the Procurator’s Office of the Republic of Ingushetia, which had judged the information disseminated by the said organisation to be extremist.
The presiding judge was Ali Ozdoev. The prosecution was led by the Procurator Magomed Aushev and Khamzat Barkinkhoev from the Directorate of the Ministry of Justice for Ingushetia. The CCNS’s defence was provided by the organisation’s own lawyers Sherip Tepsaev and Zarema Gandaloeva.
During the hearing, which lasted more than two hours, each side defended its position, presenting the court with its own reasoning. To argue their case the CCNS lawyers presented two conclusions of the Moscow-based “Independent Council for Legal Expertese” as well as an interview given by V. Kalamanov, the Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for Human Rights and Freedoms of the Citizen in the Chechen Republic and by O. Mironov, the former Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation. In these essays the State human rights workers often referred to the fact of mass abuses of the human rights of the civilians of Chechnya.
In addition, the court was also presented with reports and bulletins by leading Russian and international human rights organisations regarding the situation in the Chechen Republic, which bore witness to the continuing arbitrary outrages and violence taking place there.
The CCNS lawyers were able to show that the organisation’s work was carried out in accordance with the Constitution of the Russian Federation (Article 29 guaranteed every citizen the freedom of thought and word) and Article 10 of the European Convention which guarantees the freedom of expression of thought.
On the basis of the presented documents the court refused to allow the claim made by the Procurator’s Office of the Republic of Ingushetia that the information disseminated by the CCNS was extremist.
Situation in Prigorodny District of North-Osetia –Alania
In the fall of 1992 in Prigorodny district of North Osetia-Alania broke out a short but very ferocious armed conflict between the Ingushis and the Osetians. According to different estimates 35-50, 000 Ingush were expelled from their historic homeland in Prigorodny district of North Osetia-Alania and the capital city of Vladikavkaz; the majority of them fled to the neighboring Ingushetia. For 11 years now Ingush forced migrants waiting for the chance to return home have been fighting for survival in tents, trucks and barracks of the refugee camps.
On October 11, 2002 the Presidents of Ingushetia and North Osetia signed The Agreement for Promoting Cooperation and Neighborly Relations between the republics. The situation started to change for the better, tensions were gradually alleviating.
After the terrorist Act in Beslan the situation in Prigorodny district has significantly complicated. This was caused by two factors: actively circulated gossips that hostage-taking in Beslan was organized by the Ingushis, and the history of unresolved ethnic tension.
In October the level of tension remained very high, however, no clashes on ethnic grounds were registered. The authorities pay much attention to maintaining order in the region. Nonetheless, in October HRC “Memorial” documented several alarming cases, which in our view point to the necessity of close attention to ethnic processes in the Prigorodny district.
On October 2, 2004 at 8: 40 in the morning the wagon of Khamkhoev family, residing in Majskij, a the camp for Ingush forced migrants from North Osetia, arrived a car YAZ-970 (15 region). A man got out of the car, knocked on the door of the wagon and asked for Dzamalejl (the nick used by the family) or Khamkhoev Magomed, born 1980. The mother got out, she woke her son up and he came out.
The visitors were four: one in the military uniform, three in the civilian attire without masks, they were armed with “Kalashnikov” machine guns and Makarov pistols. When Magomed asked “What’s the problem”, the unidentified servicemen explained that they wanted to talk to him and forced him into their car. On the way they started beating him, them brought to the forest, located 20 kilometers of Vladikavkaz, and continuing to beat him up severely, tried to acknowledge his participation in hostage-taking in Beslan.
Beatings continued for about 1,5 hours, Magomed several times lost consciousness. Then he was brought to Oktyabr’skoe village (the administrative center of Prigorodny district) and one of the kidnappers entered a block of flats and brought a case with papers. Magomed was told to sign some document, which he refused to do before and asked to read it first. He was not allowed to read the paper, instead was taken to a military training platz between Oktyab’sky and Tarski. There beatings continued for another 40 min: Magomed was kicked with boots in the area of stomach and between the legs. He passed out and regained consciousness only in the car, just before he was abandoned at the highway not far from Mayskij. By the time Magomed managed to get home, it was 11: 45 a.m.. A few hours later Magomed’s condition became very bad, he had fever almost 40 degrees. Early in the morning he was hospitalized to Nazran Republican hospital. Magomed had several serious surgeries and will remain physically disabled.
On October 23 at around 11 a.m. a group of men from Beslan (about 200-200) by some 50 cars approached the administrative border of Reoublics Ingushetia and North Osetia-Alania. The convoy was stopped at the checkpoint # 105 by the personnel of local militia. The residents of Beslan demanded that Chechens and Ingushis were prohibited from using the highway Nazran-Beslan. After negotiations with the representatives of the authorities, the convoy returned to Beslan.
Memorial registered several cases when medical aid was denied to the residents of North Osetia of Ingush nationality. Thus, Yandieva Roza, a resident of Majski village was denied a course of massage fro her 6 month old daughter, suffering neck bone distortion. Itazova Khava, the resident of the same village could not receive aid and was insulted by women, who gathered at the policlinic of Oktyabrskoje village, where Khava came for consultations on treatment of her two sons, both ill with cancer. Ostkanova Gulya was refused medical aid at the maternity house, when labor was approaching. The doctors of Majskij polyclinic were unable to send clinical tests to the central laboratory.
Nonetheless, along with individual cases of ethnic hostility, the majority of Osetian people understand that Ingushis cannot be blamed for the tragedy in Beslan. Thus, according to the Ingush doctors, the head of health department of Prigorodny District, Medoev Mikhail Magomedovich, invests a lot of effort in maintaining favorable ethnic climate in the region and does everything to help the Ingush doctors. Another respondent, who preferred not to disclose her identity, told “Memorial” that when in a shuttle bus she and three other Ingush women were insulted by an aggressive youngster, an elderly Osetian man abrupt him, told him to shut up and apologized with the Ingush ladies.