–RELATIVES OF DISAPPEARED GATHER IN GROZNY
Kavkazky Uzel reported on August 30 that more than 200 mothers and other relatives of disappeared people gathered in central Grozny. According to the website, the demonstrators held photographs of relatives who had disappeared or were being held against their will. Kavkazky Uzel quoted Chechnya’s human rights ombudsman, Nurdi Nukhazhiev, as saying that his office supported the demonstration and that the official number of disappeared people in Chechnya is 2,736. The website noted that in 2005, the New York-based group Human Rights Watch concluded that the overwhelming majority of kidnappings over the previous two years had been carried out by security forces loyal to Ramzan Kadyrov. The United Nations’ special rapporteur on torture, Manfred Nowak, plans to visit Chechnya this fall to investigate what he characterized as “very, very serious accusations” concerning torture and mistreatment in the republic.
–CHECHEN PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER: BASAEV WAS G.R.U. OFFICER
In his August 22 interview with Agentstvo Natsionalnykh Novostei (ANN), the speaker of the lower house of Chechnya’s parliament, Dukvakha Abdurakhmanov, claimed that the late Chechen rebel warlord, Shamil Basaev, was an agent of Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU. Asked about the amnesty being offered to Chechen separatists, Abdurakhmanov said he supported it. “But you should not lump together all of the Chechen militants that were under Dudaev, Maskhadov and others,” Abdurakhmanov added. “We didn’t support a single one of those figures. When I was a chairman of the raiispolkom [Executive Committee of the District Soviet of People’s Deputies] in Soviet times, Dudaev was a nobody in Chechnya. Russia created Dudaev, Maskhadov and Basaev. Basaev, by the way, was a GRU officer in Abkhazia; it’s not a secret” (According to ANN, back in 1999, then Ingushetian President Ruslan Aushev also suggested that Basaev had worked for the GRU in Abkhazia). Abdurakhmanov also told ANN that Chechnya would save Russia from NATO. “It is necessary to speak of Chechens as patriots who today saved Russia and might save her tomorrow,” he said. “There is no more monolithic a force that…can come out in support of Russia, federalism and the Russian Federation constitution, and against NATO and China.”