– U.S. State Department Details Rights Abuses in the North Caucasus
The U.S. State Department this past week released its annual human rights report— “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices-2007″—and the section on Russia contains quite a bit of reporting on Chechnya and the North Caucasus. “The government’s human rights record remained poor in the North Caucasus, where the government in Chechnya forcibly reined in the Islamist insurgency that replaced the separatist insurgency in Chechnya as the main source of conflict,” it states. “Government security forces were allegedly involved in unlawful killings, politically motivated abductions and disappearances in Chechnya, Ingushetiya and elsewhere in the North Caucasus. Disappearances and kidnappings in Chechnya declined, as Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov established authoritarian and repressive control over the republic, and federal forces withdrew. Federal and local security forces continued to act with impunity, especially in targeting families of suspected insurgents, and there were allegations that Kadyrov’s private militia engaged in kidnapping and torture. In the neighboring republics of Ingushetiya and Dagestan, there were an increase in violence and abuses committed by security forces.”
– Moscow Refuses to Let Demonstrators Mark Anniversary of Maskhadov’s Death
Authorities in Moscow refused permission to the Anti-War Club to hold a demonstration in the Russian capital on March 13 to mark the third anniversary of the death of Aslan Maskhadov, the separatist leader and Chechnya’s second president, who was killed by security forces in Chechnya on March 8, 2005. One of the Anti-War Club’s leaders, Mikhail Kriger, held a one-man protest against the Kremlin’s policy in the North Caucasus in Moscow on March 11, Kavkazky Uzel reported.
– Chechen Union of Journalists Quits Russian Union of Journalists
The Chechen Union of Journalists announced on March 7 that it is leaving the Russian Union of Journalists to protest the latter’s decision to rescind President Ramzan Kadyrov’s membership, which the Chechen chapter had conferred on Kadyrov on March 5. According to Kavkazky Uzel, the Chechen Union of Journalists said that the parent organization’s decision was illegal because its charter does not contain legal norms for overriding decisions made by regional branches. Lema Gudaev, who heads the information-analytical department of the Chechen Republic’s presidency and government, said on March 6 that the Chechen Union of Journalists had picked the wrong way to express their gratitude toward Ramzan Kadyrov “for everything he has done in terms of supporting the republican press,” since their gesture contradicted the Russian Union of Journalists charter (Chechnya Weekly, March 6).