–LAST REFUGEE CAMP BEING DISMANTLED
The long foreseen and feared dismantling of the last refugee camp in Ingushetia has now begun. According to an April 21 report from Prava cheloveka v Rossii (“Human Rights in Russia”), the Satsita camp still had, as of that day, 1,658 inhabitants in its 346 remaining tents. The camp’s final closing is due by the end of April.
–MOSCOW PREVAILS AT UN
The United Nations suffered another self-inflicted blow to its credibility on April 20 when, in response to pressure from Russia, it amended a report on wartime abuse of children so as to avoid describing the situation in Chechnya as an “armed conflict” (see Chechnya Weekly, March 17). UN officials also changed the phrase “Chechen insurgency groups” to “Chechen illegal armed groups.”
–ANTI-WAR DEMONSTRATIONS RESUME
The four-year-old tradition of a weekly demonstration against the Chechen war on Moscow’s Pushkin Square was resumed earlier this month after a five-week interruption. On April 15 the demonstrators gathered for the first time since their detention on March 11. Yelena Batenkova, one of the demonstration’s organizers, told the Caucasian Knot website that the court case against them had been dropped and that so far they have not experienced new problems with the police.
–ATROCITY TRIAL NEARS END
The trial of four Russian military officers accused of murdering a carload of Chechen civilians in 2002 is said to be nearing its conclusion (see Chechnya Weekly, December 3). The final verdict in the trial is to be announced on April 29.
Captain Eduard Ulman and his three co-defendants told the military court for the northern Caucasus on April 23 that they are not guilty. Their main argument, according to an April 23 report by Itar-Tass, is that “we were carrying out an order from our higher command.” That argument, used by Nazi defendants after World War II, is not considered valid by international treaties on war crimes.