Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 8


Andrei Koshkin, the head of the Volga River region Penitentiary Department, said at a news conference on February 20 that a court in the town of Dmitrovgrad had denied a parole request from Yuri Budanov, the Russian colonel who is serving a 10-year prison sentence for murdering an 18-year-old Chechen woman. Budanov was convicted in July 2003 of murdering Elza Kungaeva three years earlier. The Associated Press quoted Koshkin as saying that Budanov was transferred last year from a prison in Dmitrovgrad to a penal settlement in the Volga River city of Ulyanovsk to serve the rest of his term. Interfax quoted Ziyad Sabsabi, the Chechen government’s representative in Moscow, as saying: “The decision is entirely correct. It testifies to the fact that the judicial system in Russia is acquiring independence and is not subject to any political pressure.”


North Ossetian police seized two computers and documents on February 21 in the Vladikavkaz office of the Institute of War and Peace Reporting, a British nongovernmental organization, the Moscow Times reported on February 22. The English-language newspaper quoted IWPR’s coordinator in the North Caucasus, Valery Dzutsev, as saying that investigators told him to show up at their office next week, after they have examined the seized documents and computers. The raid came a month after police opened a criminal investigation into Dzutsev on suspected tax evasion. IWPR has trained journalists in the Caucasus since the late 1990s, and Dzutsev has headed its Vladikavkaz office since it opened in 2002. It is now trying to re-register with authorities as required by the NGO law. Last year, IWPR’s senior editor, Thomas de Waal, was denied a Russian visa without explanation.


The European Commission announced on February 21 that it has allocated 17.5 million euros ($22.9 million) in aid to help victims of the ongoing crisis in Chechnya, Deutsche Presse Agentur reported. The commission said the funds would go to the displaced people and refugees in the North Caucasus republics of Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan and to Chechen refugees in neighboring Azerbaijan and Georgia. EU funds will be used to provide housing, jobs, health care, water and sanitation, as well as mine-risk education and psychological help for the people, especially children, traumatized by the war, DPA reported. The European Commission said that including the new funds, the EU has provide 220 million euros ($288 million) in aid to Chechnya and its environs since 1999, making the 27-member bloc the largest donor in the war-torn region.