Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 14

President Vladimir Putin’s special adviser on the North Caucasus region, Aslambek Aslakhanov, told a news conference in Moscow on April 4 that neither the Chechen authorities nor the law-enforcement bodies nor human rights activists know how many people have been kidnapped in Chechnya. “It is a mystery because all those who are involved in kidnappings behave in the same way,” Itar-Tass quoted him as saying. “They wear the same uniforms, they act in the same way, [and] some of them have armored vehicles.” According to the news agency, Aslakhanov did not rule out that members of federal structures operating in the republic and of local power-wielding forces might be involved in kidnappings, and added that ransom might be one of the motives for the abductions. Still, he ins isted that the number of kidnappings has been dropping.

Whatever the case, they have by no means ceased. The Russian-Chechen Friendship Society (ORChD) reported on April 3 that an inhabitant of the Urus-Martan district village of Gekhi, Vakha Dadakhaev, was kidnapped on April 2 by a group of armed men who arrived at his home in three vehicles. Five residents of the village of Duba-Yurt in the Shali district, including a legless invalid, were kidnapped on April 1. That same evening, a man was kidnapped in the Grozny agricultural district village of Stary Atagi.

On March 30, a group of armed men in masks abducted two men from their homes in the Achkoi-Martan district village of Samaskhi. One of them, Tagir Kulaev, was freed the next day. Tagir’s brother, Shadit, told the ORChD that after abducting Tagir, the kidnappers had taken him to a deserted area, beaten him and questioned him about the whereabouts of “one our fellow villagers – a Wahhabi whom Tagir had not seen for a long time.” According to Shadit, Tagir had fought on the side of the rebels but surrendered to law-enforcement authorities in 2004 and was subsequently amnestied.

According to the ORChD, local police in Samashki on March 31 tried to stop a ten-car convoy that was leaving the village, but after firing in the air, were fired on from the convoy. After exchanging gunfire for 10-15 minutes, the two sides ceased fire. As it turned out, the convoy was made up of FSB and Grozny anti-organized crime directorate personnel, who said they were carrying out an operation to capture “bandits” and threatened that the Samashki police would be destroyed if they intervened. According to the ORChD, Tagir Kulaev and the other kidnapped Samashki resident were at that time locked in the trunk of one of the cars in the convoy. Meanwhile, two other Samashki residents were kidnapped in separate incidents on the night of March 30-31, but it is not clear whether the same group of kidnappers was involved. reported on March 31 that a resident of the Achkoi-Martan village of Katyr-Yurt, Anve Gisaev, was seized from his home on March 26 by seven armed men in camouflage uniforms. His parents said local police told them that Anve had been detained as part of an investigation and would be returned home after he was interrogated.