Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 41

– Officer Accused of War Crimes in Chechnya Will Run for the Duma

Sergei Arakcheyev, the Interior Ministry officer accused along with a fellow officer of murdering Chechen civilians, will run in December’s State Duma elections as a candidate from Patriots of Russia party, RIA Novosti reported on October 22. Arakcheyev and Yevgeny Khudyakov are accused of murdering three Chechens in January 2003. The two servicemen have been cleared of murder in jury trials twice, but each time the Supreme Court’s military collegium overturned the jury’s not-guilty verdict. In April 2006, Russia’s Supreme Court ruled that grave crimes committed in Chechnya must be tried by military judges without the participation of a jury. If Arakcheyev is elected to the State Duma, the murder case against him will be dropped because parliamentary deputies enjoy immunity from criminal prosecution.

– Kadyrov says Berezovsky “Pioneered” Abductions in Chechnya

Addressing a congress of Russian political parties and movements in Grozny, Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov claimed on October 23 that exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky, the London-based Russian oligarch and erstwhile Kremlin insider turned Kremlin critic, “pioneered” abductions in Chechnya in the 1990s. The London-based former Kremlin insider, who today is a vocal critic of President Vladimir Putin, “generously funded [Shamil] Basayev and other heads of illegal armed groups, paying them fabulous ransoms for each captured person,” Interfax quoted Kadyrov as saying. “The money was spent on the purchase of the most up-to-date arms and on committing new serious crimes in Chechnya.” Basayev and his supporters never fought for Chechnya’s independence, but instead, “connived” with Berezovsky “and “others like him and pursued the goal of destabilizing the situation in the country,” Kadyrov claimed. “They did not care about the fact that their criminal activity resulted in the torment of hundreds of thousands of people, the death of women, children, and old men, and devastated towns and villages.” Kadyrov said that Basaev himself acknowledged in public that he received “millions of U.S. dollars” from Berezovsky. Kadyrov further claimed that “from the very beginning of events in Chechnya,” Berezovsky and Aslan Maskhadov “plotted to kill [Djokhar] Dudaev and to install Maskhadov” in his place. Echoing the Kremlin, Kadyrov has in the past accused Berezovsky of colluding with Chechen rebel leaders in a host of alleged crimes (Chechnya Weekly, February 23 and March 6, 2006).

– Ingush Brothers Arrested for Nevsky Express Bombing

Kavkazky Uzel reported on October 24 that two brothers from the village of Ekazhevo Ingushetia, Amirkhan and Maksharip Khidriev, were arrested the previous day as suspects in the August 13 bombing of the Nevsky Express passenger train. The bombing derailed the train near the city of Novgorod and injured dozens of people (Chechnya Weekly, August 16). Kommersant reported on October 25 that both suspects have alibis. Prague Watchdog on October 24 quoted Ruslan Badalov, director of the Chechen Committee for National Salvation, as saying of the arrests: “In the past when anything happened in Russia, a ‘Chechen trace’ was seen everywhere, and now they’ve started to attribute it to Ingushetia … I’m afraid that just as in the case of Chechnya, the increasingly frequent comments about an ‘Ingush trace’ are going to serve as a springboard for the launching of military operations in Ingushetia.”