Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 39

– Sarkozy Meets with Rights Activists

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, on his first visit to Russia as president, met on October 9 with leaders of the Memorial human rights group, Agence France Presse reported on October 10. Katya Sokiryanskaya, who works for Memorial in Chechnya and Ingushetia, said she had told Sarkozy that some things were getting better in Chechnya but that there were “new forms” of violence in neighboring Ingushetia. “We said that we understand that the state fights terrorism but that it must be done within the law,” she said. Memorial’s Oleg Orlov said that by simply meeting with a non-governmental organization – unlike his predecessor Jacques Chirac – Sarkozy was “sending a message.” As AFP noted, Sarkozy stands out among Western leaders for his firm criticism of human rights abuses in Russia. The French leader met with President Vladimir Putin on October 9 prior to his meeting with the Memorial representatives.

– Strasbourg Court Orders Compensation for Three Chechen Women

The European Court of Human Rights ruled on October 4 that the Russian government should pay almost 200,000 euros (more than $280,000) to three women from Chechnya who had survived zachistka, or mopping-up operation, by federal forces in Grozny in 2000. The Moscow Times, citing Ekho Moskvy radio, reported on October 5 that two of the plaintiffs barely survived the operation in January 2000, while the third witnessed the execution of her relatives by soldiers. The ruling lambasted the Chechen authorities for being sluggish and unprofessional in their investigations of the killings in a Grozny suburb in January and February 2000. Chechen prosecutors investigated the killings only after journalist Anna Politkovskaya wrote about them.

– Memorial Service for Politkovskaya held in Ingushetia

A memorial service for the award-winning journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was murdered in Moscow on October 7, 2006, was held in the “Kristall” camp for internally displaced persons in Nazran, Ingushetia, on October 9. The event was organized by Aslambek Apaev, a North Caucasus expert with the Moscow Helsinki Group. Kavkazky Uzel reported on October 9 that children of internally displaced persons took part in the memorial, reading poems written in Politkovskaya’s honor, staging a short play and singing songs.