–MURTAZALIEVA GETS NINE YEARS
Vladimir Suvorov, lawyer for Zara Murtazalieva, the 21-year-old Chechen woman sentenced to nine years in prison January 17 for conspiring to carry out a terrorist attack in Moscow’s Okhotny Ryad shopping center, recruiting two Russian women to act as suicide bombers, and acquiring explosives, denounced the sentence “harsh and unfair” and vowed to appeal. Murtazalieva was arrested near a hotel in southwest Moscow on March 4, 2004, and police later claimed they found 200 grams of explosives in her bag. The defense claimed during the trial that the police planted the explosives.
On January 11, the Memorial human rights group issued a detailed assessment of the case against Murtazalieva, which it described as a “monstrous fabrication of terrorism charges.” Svetlana Gannushkina, who heads the “Civil Assistance” organization and is a member of Memorial and the Russian Federation Presidential Commission on Human Rights, said Russian human rights activists would appeal the case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, Interfax reported on January 18.
–ZACHISTKI CARRIED OUT IN INGUSHETIA
More than 60 people suspected of various crimes were detained in Ingushetia on January 11 during a large-scale police operation aimed at suppressing extremist and terrorist activities, Interfax reported. A source in the Interior Ministry’s Southern Federal District directorate told the news agency that more than ten of those detained were suspected of involvement in “illegal armed formations,” 20 were on the Russian federal wanted list and 30 were suspected of having committed various types of crimes. Police also uncovered several arms caches that contained more than 20 grenades, a tank round, three homemade bombs and over 4,000 rounds of ammunition.
Meanwhile, Nezavisimaya gazeta on January 17 quoted Svetlana Gannushkina as saying that mass searches of apartments and houses were taking place in all of Ingushetia’s cities and villages. “They are mainly arresting the people who do not have temporary Ingushetian registration, who as a rule are Chechens,” she told the newspaper.
–QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“Dear Mr. President: I no longer consider the Order of Bravery, which you awarded my son posthumously, to be a state award. I am returning this decoration to you. Award it to someone more worthy. Perhaps to the valiant staff of the prosecutor’s office or to the ‘impartial and independent judges who are subordinated only to the law’. Or perhaps to the authors of large-scale action known as ‘monetization of benefits’. Yes, there are all kinds of ‘heroes’ in our country!”—from an open letter to President Putin from Nikolai Grachev, father of an officer killed in Chechnya, published by Grani.ru on January 18.