Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 28

– Newspaper Cited for Publishing Transcript of Zakaev Interrogation

Kommersant reported on July 11 that it had received a letter from Rossvyazokhrankultura, the Russian government’s media watchdog, stating that the agency had asked the Russian Prosecutor-General’s Office to investigate the publication on the newspaper’s website of a transcript of an interview conducted in London by representatives of the Russian Prosecutor-General’s Office with Akhmed Zakaev, the Chechen separatist foreign minister, regarding the murder of Alexander Litvinenko. The newspaper’s weekly magazine, Kommersant-Vlast, published an interview with Zakaev on July 9 with a link to the transcript of Zakaev’s questioning by Russian prosecutors posted on the newspaper’s website. Rossvyazokhrankultura said in its letter to Kommersant that publishing the prosecutors’ questioning of Zakaev “may fall under the purview of Article 161 of the Russian Criminal Code (‘The Impermissibility of Disclosing Information from Preliminary Investigations’).”

– Relatives of Dubrovka Victims Want Those in Charge of “Rescue” Prosecuted

Relatives of the victims of the October 2002 hostage-taking at Moscow’s Dubrovka theater center have asked the Prosecutor-General’s Office to file criminal charges against members of the operational headquarters for saving the hostages, reported on July 11. “We will never excuse the terrorists and will never forgive the state,” Tatyana Karpova, leader of the “Nord-Ost” public organization, told a press conference. She noted that the Prosecutor-General’s Office had launched a criminal case only for the seizure of the hostages, but not for the deaths that occurred during the storming of the theater by security forces. A total of 912 people in the theater were taken hostage by Chechen militants, 130 of whom died – five shot by the terrorists and 125 during the storming of the theater. Forty terrorists – 21 men and 19 women – were also killed. The “Nord-Ost” group says that medical assistance to the hostages in the immediate aftermath of the storming was not properly organized. The group also charges that the security forces that stormed the theater used an incapacitating gas that adversely affected the hostages but did not have an antidote. The operational headquarters for saving the hostages was headed by then Deputy Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Vladimir Pronichev (who has since been promoted to the post of First Deputy FSB Director) and then Deputy Interior Minister Vladimir Vasliev (who today is the chairman of the State Duma’s Security Committee).

– Chechen Parliamentary Speaker Says 4,300 Have Disappeared

The speaker of Chechnya’s People’s Assembly, Dukvakha Abdurakhmanov, said on July 11 that the figures put forward by human rights activists on the number of people who have disappeared in Chechnya since the start of the first war in the republic are accurate, RIA Novosti reported. He said that a total of 4,300 people have disappeared: 1,500 between 1994 and 1996 and more than 2,800 between 2000 and 2007. “We have identical figures,” he said. “All of these figures are backed by specific information – names, addresses; they are based on appeals by citizens of the republic.” Abdurakhmanov said the initial total was 5,500 missing, but the number was reduced after each case was investigated. He also said that in response to numerous appeals from residents of the republic, a parliamentary commission to search for the kidnapped and disappeared has been set up, and that it is working with, among others, human rights activists. Abdurakhmanov said, however, that the problem can only be resolved with the creation of an inter-agency commission at the federal level, and that the Chechen parliament has asked the federal authorities to create such a commission. The state, he said, is obligated to determine the fate of those who are missing. Otherwise, “people lose faith in justice and lose trust in the law and the government.”