Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 1

The Memorial human rights group estimates that 384 residents of Chechnya were kidnapped in 2004, Interfax reported on January 3. Memorial spokesman Dmitri Grushkin told the news agency that 182 of these people were freed, 22 found dead, 173 are still listed as missing, and seven who were previously listed as missing are “under investigation.” The Kavkazky Uzel website on January 4 quoted an inhabitant of the Groznensk district settlement of Pobedinskoe as saying that locals had discovered the bodies of four apparent extra-judicial murder victims on road on the Tersk mountain ridge on December 31. All four had been shot. The locals reported their grim discovery to the police and military, which removed the bodies. There were no clues as to the identity either of the victims or their killers. In early December, inhabitants of the Groznensky Rural District (Groznensky Selsky Raion) settlement of Pervomaiskaya found the bodies of three young men on the Tersk mountain ridge. The bodies bore signs of torture.

The advent of a new year has apparently done little to stem the tide of kidnappings. Sources in Chechnya’s Interior Ministry told Interfax on January 4 that six people had “gone missing” over the previous 24 hours. Unidentified gunmen abducted Said-Akhmed Makaev, a student at Chechnya’s Oil Institute, and Timur Tsakaev, a teacher training school student, from their apartments in Grozny’s Leninsky district, the sources said. A third man, Daud Magomadov, was abducted in Grozny’s Oktyabrsky district, and Adam Magomedov, a locomotive engineer, was kidnapped in the town of Argun. A sixth man, Shamsudin Vitigov, a member of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, “went missing” at Grozny’s Central Market, but the circumstances surrounding his disappearance were “unclear,” Interfax reported.

Ibragim Dzubayraev, deputy chairman of the committee for ensuring the constitutional rights of the residents of the Chechen Republic, told Itar-Tass on December 29 that “at present” 1,667 people are “listed as abducted or missing in Chechnya.”