– CHECHEN REFUGEES IN AZERBAIJAN ASK FOR HELP
Kavkazky Uzel reported on January 10 that the Council for Chechen Refugees in Azerbaijan had sent an appeal to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, stating that the situation surrounding Chechen refugees in Azerbaijan has “seriously worsened” as of late, particularly as a result of “threats to the personal safety of our citizens who came to this country in search of refuge and protection.” The council referred to incidents involving “the abduction of people and an atmosphere of intolerance” surrounding the refugees that are being pumped up “artificially.” The statement specifically cited the case of Ruslan Eliev, a Chechen refugee who, according to the council, was kidnapped in Baku two months ago. The council’s appeal claimed that Chechen refugees in Azerbaijan have been living “on the edge of a humanitarian catastrophe” for some years due to substandard living conditions, and that thousands of refugees have been forced to return to Chechnya, where warfare and repression is taking place. The appeal called on the leaders of Western and European countries, especially in Scandinavia and the Baltics, to take in Chechen refugees currently living in Azerbaijan, and called on international human rights groups, members of the separatist Chechen Republic of Ichkeria government and anyone else to “render all feasible aid to Chechen refugees and to bring our despair to [the attention of] governments of democratic states.”
– MSF CALLS CHECHNYA AN “UNDERREPORTED STORY”
The international humanitarian medical aid organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has named the conflict in Chechnya as one of the “Top Ten” Most Underreported Humanitarian Stories of 2006, alongside the human toll taken by tuberculosis and malnutrition as well as the devastation caused by wars in the Central African Republic, Sri Lanka, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The group noted in a January 9 press release that according to Andrew Tyndall, publisher of the online media-tracking journal The Tyndall Report, the 10 countries and contexts highlighted by MSF accounted for just 7.2 minutes of the 14,512 minutes on the three major U.S. television networks’ nightly newscasts for 2006. Malnutrition, tuberculosis, and Chechnya were mentioned, but only briefly in other stories. Five of the countries highlighted by MSF were never mentioned at all.
– CHILD TRAFFICKING REPORTED IN CHECHNYA
In an article published by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting on January 4, Laiyla Baisultanova, a correspondent for the newspaper Chechenskoe Obshchestvo, reported that child trafficking is on the rise in Chechnya. Evidence suggests “that after a decade of conflict and turmoil in Chechnya, the number of childless families has risen drastically and people are ready to pay large sums to adopt a newborn baby—and frequently resort to illegal methods to acquire one,” she wrote. “The problem is compounded by the fact that Chechen society considers illegitimate birth shameful and there is very little formal adoption. The transactions are extremely secret and good data is hard to come by. However, the Chechen prosecutor’s office has registered cases of children having been sold or illegally handed over to assumed adoptive parents.” According to Baisultanova, prosecutors filed a case last November against an alleged criminal group charged with trafficking minors.
– NEW DYNAMO STADIUM PLANNED FOR GROZNY
Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov announced on January 10 that a roofed Dynamo stadium will be built on the site of the old Dynamo stadium in downtown Grozny and will be prioritized on the list of facilities to be built in the republic this year. “The construction will be launched soon. Builders of the Chechen construction department are removing the old stands and premises of the stadium,” ITAR-TASS quoted Kadyrov as saying. “Their task is to clean up a construction site for a new stadium, which should be built in 2007.” The roofed stadium will hold 10,000 spectators and will have basketball and volleyball playgrounds, tennis courts and sports halls for various kinds of sports, the republican Ministry of Physical Culture, Sport and Tourism told the news agency. Kadyrov’s father, the pro-Moscow Chechen president Akhmad Kadyrov, was killed in a bombing at the old Dynamo stadium on May 9, 2004.