–FEDERAL TROOPS AND LOCAL POLICE KILLED IN CHECHNYA
Two federal troops were killed in Chechnya when a checkpoint on the outskirts of the village of Kurchaloi came under fire, a source in the republic’s Interior Ministry told RIA Novosti on January 3. Two members of Chechnya’s OMON special-task police force were killed in a gunfight with three or four attackers in Grozny on January 1. A Chechen Interior Ministry source told Interfax that two other OMON members were wounded and two of the attackers killed in the battle. According to the source, a stray bullet from the shootout killed a local woman. Meanwhile, Col.-Gen. Nikolai Rogozhkin, commander-in-chief of the Interior Ministry’s Internal Troops, claimed on December 30 that losses among the Internal Troops in Chechnya had decreased 40 percent from 2004, RBK TV reported. Chechen Interior Minister Ruslan Alkhanov said on December 26 that 121 employees of the republic’s Interior Ministry had been killed and 278 injured since the start of 2005, Itar-Tass reported.
–CHECHEN ACTIVIST CONTINUES STRASBOURG HUNGER STRIKE
The separatist Kavkazcenter website on January 4 posted an interview with Said-Emin Ibragimov, the president of the International Association for Peace and Human Rights who was communications minister in Aslan Maskhadov’s government, who has been on a hunger strike outside the headquarters of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg since December 10. “I’ll bring to an end the protest which has started,” Ibragimov told Kavkazcenter in the interview, which was conducted on January 3. “Its end will depend on PACE, which should either accept my demands—to recognize the war in Chechnya as the killing and mass violation of human rights with all the ensuing legal and judicial consequences—or it should refuse my demands. In this case, PACE will be responsible for the death of a man from starvation outside the assembly.” Ibragimov added that despite the fact that he had given the PACE leadership a written warning about the hunger strike beforehand, they had not yet reacted.
–CHECHEN CHILDREN SUFFER FROM MYSTERY ILLNESS
Reuters on December 28 quoted doctors in Dagestan as saying that a mystery disease that put more than 80 people in Chechnya, most of them children, in the hospital was caused by a chemical found in antifreeze. One doctor, Muminat Khadzhayeva, blamed ethyl glycol, a chemical that prevents water freezing, for poisoning the children, whose symptoms included hysteria, panic, shortness of breath, vomiting and diarrhea. Another Dagestani doctor, who asked not to be named, said the victims had most likely ingested the chemical through water. The doctor, who was part of a team that tested blood samples from five affected girls, said northern Chechnya relied on wells for its water and that the poisoning might have sprung from polluted ground water. Experts had earlier suggested the disease had been caused by stress brought on by warfare, and President Vladimir Putin ordered extra help for the children. Chechnya’s rebels, however, demanded an international investigation to determine if the children were poisoned. “The Russian leadership is conducting a whole program of medical and ecological elements aimed at reducing the population,” separatist health minister Umar Khambiev said in comments carried by the Kavkazcenter website.
–NUKHAEV RESURFACES ONLINE
The separatist Chechenpress website on December 31 posted a long essay by Khozh-Akhmed Nukhaev, a former separatist official and reputed organized crime figure accused by federal prosecutors of having ordered the July 2004 murder of Forbes Russia editor Paul Klebnikov. The piece had no date or exact indication of when it was written, but was a commentary on the analytical piece “Razmyshlenia modzhakheda” (Reflections of a Mujahid), the first part of which was posted by Kavkazcenter last August. Last June, Kavkazky Uzel cited unnamed sources as saying they believed Nukhaev had been killed together with Chechen rebel field commander Ruslan Gelaev in the mountains of Dagestan (Chechnya Weekly, June 22, 2005). Last August, Michael Klebnikov was quoted by the New York Sun as saying that he was “skeptical” of Russian investigators’ conclusion that Nukhaev was behind his brother’s murder (Chechnya Weekly, August 18, 2005).