…as Ingushetian Police Roust Chechen Refugees

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 5 Issue: 26

Last week, police of Ingushetia’s pro-Moscow administration mounted a security sweep on the small refugee center located on the former Altievo dairy farm, Gazeta.ru reported on June 25. Beslan Khamkhoev, acting head of Ingushetia’s interior ministry, insisted that the raid was strictly legal and targeted only at individual suspects against whom there was specific evidence. Khamkhoev told the Interfax news agency on June 25 that the pro-Moscow administration’s security organs had detained several suspects after raiding various refugee settlements. But he refused to specify the number of arrestees, claiming that this was classified information.

Refugees and human-rights activists, including the Memorial independent research center, accused the Ingushetian police of arbitrary arrests, intimidation, beatings and robbery. According to Memorial, all the male residents of Altievo were led into a bathhouse, stripped naked, beaten and warned: “If you don’t leave in two days, it will be bad for you!” Additional police raids took place on June 23 against the refugee settlement in Nesterovskaya and the Logovaz refugee camp in Nazran.

Moskovskie Novosti on June 25 quoted Imran Ezheyev, head of the North Caucasus section of the Society for Russian-Chechen Friendship, as saying that what the refugees were experiencing was “literally terror.” “They are making people lie down on the ground, beating them with rifle butts, harassing them with dogs,” Ezheyev told the weekly. He said that the police had refused to allow him and his fellow human-rights observers into the same building with the refugees, threatening to shoot.

“They seized 50 people from Nazran, 16 from Sleptovskaya and 28 from Karabulak,” said Ezheyev. Old women were beaten after trying to protect their relatives. They are seizing 14-year-old and 15-year-old boys.” According to Ezheyev his colleagues had heard the screams of detainees in the Interior Ministry building in Nazran.

Ezheyev said that he had tried without success to discuss the situation with the staff of Ingushetia’s pro-Moscow president Murat Zyazikov. He described the traditional (but essentially powerless) councils of elders in Ingushetia as having been more sympathetic: “I met with the imams in several villages, and their understanding of these problems gave me reason to hope. They understand that 90 percent of those who took part in the June 22 raid are Ingush or Chechens [living in Chechnya] and that the refugees had nothing to do with it.”

Representatives of Memorial also tried to meet with the authorities, visiting an internal-affairs office in Nazran on June 24. According to Memorial, officials refused to meet with them and Ingush police expelled them from the office. Gas and electricity to the Altievo camp have now been cut off.