–LAWYERS FOR MURDERED CHECHENS WILL APPEAL ACQUITTAL OF ACCUSED
As expected, the recent not-guilty verdict for four officers of Russia’s military intelligence accused of murdering six Chechen civilians (see Chechnya Weekly, May 5) will be appealed. Magomed Gandaur-Egui, lawyer for the slain Chechens’ families, told a May 14 press conference in Moscow that he planned to take the case to Russia’s supreme military court. The press conference was hosted by the independent human-rights watchdog “Memorial,” an official of which charged that it was “scandalous” for the first trial to have been held in Rostov-on-the-Don, a southern city known for widespread anti-Chechen bigotry.
–GREF ORDERS CHECHEN RECONSTRUCTION INVENTORY
Providing further confirmation that federal subsidies for the restoration of Chechnya have been massively embezzled and otherwise diverted, German Gref acknowledged on May 15 that most subsidies would be suspended until June 1. According to a May 16 report on the Newsru.com website, Gref told journalists that an inventory of all structures now under construction or reconstruction would be conducted.
–LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON
Ramzan Kadyrov is said to be as power-hungry as his late father was. According to the May 17 issue of Russky Kurier, a joke which was popular in Chechnya even before Akhmad Kadyrov’s death describes how his car was said to have been stopped by a traffic policeman. The elder Kadyrov supposedly produced his identification documents, and was asked: “Are you Ramzan’s father?” “Yes,” he said, and was then allowed to continue on his way.
–HEAVY FIGHTING CONTINUES IN EASTERN AND SOUTHERN CHECHNYA
Firefights and land mines killed eight Russian soldiers in Chechnya during a 24-hour period ending on May 16, the Associated Press learned from an anonymous official in the republic’s pro-Moscow administration. Rebel guerrillas opened fire on Russian positions some 18 times during that period, the official said, causing four of the eight deaths. The bloodiest gunfights took place near Gudermes in eastern Chechnya and in the Vedeno district in the southern highlands.
–QATAR COURT WON’T ALLOW RUSSIAN EMBASSY OFFICIAL TO TESTIFY
The trial of two Russian intelligence officers accused of assassinating a Chechen extremist in Qatar took a turn against the defense last week. The court refused to admit testimony from Maksim Maksimov of the Russian embassy in Qatar, ostensibly because he had been present at previous sessions of the trial. According to defense lawyers, Maksimov was prepared to testify that he had seen evidence that the two intelligence officers had been bitten by dogs and beaten.
–FRESH ABUSES OF CHECHEN CIVILIANS REPORTED
Federal atrocities against Chechen civilians continued last week. Radio Liberty correspondent Musa Khasanov reported on May 14 from Chechnya that Russian troops conducted a nighttime raid on the village of Ulus-Kert in the southern Shatoi district. In the course of arresting five young men the Russians robbed villagers of money and beat up both men and women who tried to stop them. In the Shali district southeast of Grozny, gunmen dragged Ramzan Shaipov, a 30-year-old resident of the village of Chiri-Yurt, out of his bed and took him away in vehicles without license plates; they also beat up Shaipov’s 80-year-old neighbor Astamirov. Residents of Chiri-Yurt responded by mounting a protest demonstration along the highway between Shatoi and Grozny.
–WILL KADYROVITES REJOIN REBELS?
How many fighters who defected from the separatist rebels to the Kadyrov administration might now re-defect back to one or another anti-Moscow guerrilla band? Andrei Riskin pointed out in the May 12 issue of Nezavisimaya Gazeta that “most of the fighters who have [voluntarily] surrendered in recent years did so precisely under the [personal] guarantee of President Kadyrov. Kadyrov promised to petition the president of Russia even on behalf of Maskhadov. And one must recognize that Kadyrov kept such promises…” The goal of keeping these veteran fighters from switching back to the separatist cause is undoubtedly one of the arguments now being deployed on behalf of Ramzan Kadyrov’s claims to take his father’s place. At the same time, the current status of these fighters is a continuing irritant to the Russian military, which has suffered so much at their hands. As a May 17 article on the Grani.ru website observed, the young Kadyrov’s inner circle includes “not merely guerrillas, but well-known figures from Aslan Maskhadov’s team-including military leaders such as Artur Akhmadov…and prominent ‘Wahhabis’ such as Movladi Baisarov…”
–OFFICIAL LEARNS ABOUT THE DANGERS OF BEING CHECHEN
German Gref’s flying visit to Chechnya last weekend gave several high-ranking federal officials a rare chance to see the war-shattered republic with their own eyes. One of those officials told Moskovski Komsomolets, as that newspaper reported on May 17: “What struck me most of all in Grozny was this: Along the roads were hung placards with the warning, ‘Don’t drive on the old roads, you might be blown up’- but under those very placards were little children walking with their knapsacks on the way home from school.”