Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 4

Other kidnappings and extra-judicial killings in Chechnya and neighboring republics were reported last week. Radio Liberty reported on January 19 that Russian troops and Chechen OMON police commandos had detained eight young Grozny residents during so-called “targeted mopping-up” operations. According to a January 19 press release from the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society, a man in Chechnya’s Achkoi-Martan district reported to police that he had narrowly averted execution on January 18 when “servicemen from one of the federal force bodies” took him and another man to a wooded area near a bridge over the Assa River. The man said he managed to escape but the other man was killed. Police later found a body with bullet wounds. The press release stated that while information about the incident remained incomplete, the two men were locals and apparently had not been involved with “illegal armed formations” – meaning rebel units.

The Russian-Chechen Friendship Society reported on January 23 that a fifteen-hour demonstration took place in the Groznensky (rural) district village of Chechen-Aul, during which both local residents and inhabitants of the Shali district village of Bachi-Yurt demanded the return of young men allegedly kidnapped by “representatives of power structures.” The protesters blocked Rostov-Baku federal highway. A correspondent for the society’s Information Center identified one of those kidnapped as Saikhan Isaev, a 19-year-old Chechen-Aul resident allegedly taken by a group of unidentified men in camouflage and masks on January 16. According to Isaev’s relatives, he was severely beaten before being taken away.

The Caucasus Times reported on January 19 that a group of armed men in camouflage uniforms and masks had entered a temporary refugee settlement in Grozny at around 8AM the previous day, taking away three young people. A woman from the settlement told the newspaper that the kidnappers were driving an UAZ truck with tinted windshields and no license plates. Chechnya’s Foreign Ministry said it has launched an investigation into the incident.

The independent Ingushetiya.ru website reported on January 17 that the number of people in the republic who have been kidnapped and whose fate remains unknown has reached nearly 170. “They have not been detained or arrested, no official charges have been brought against them,” the website wrote. “They have not been provided with lawyers. No criminal proceedings have been instituted against them or court trials held. That is to say, these people have found themselves outside the framework of the law, the constitution of the Russian Federation and other laws guaranteeing human rights and freedoms. They have all been killed. Of that there are no doubts. ‘Death squads’ subordinated to Ramzan Kadyrov (his people are regarded as employees of the operational-coordinating directorate of the FSB [Federal Security Service] for the North Caucasus), to other power structures, are allowed to carry out the physical destruction of all ‘political unreliables’. They are coping with their task successfully. Nothing needs to be proved. ‘No person – no problem’. Among the several thousand killed in the framework of the given operation, more than half had no relation to the illegal armed formations.”