Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 5 Issue: 40

Bribery and extortion continue to be common abuses in the process by which Chechens seek financial compensation from the federal government for their homes damaged or destroyed during the war, according to an October 28 report by Chechen journalists Kazbek Tsuraev and Aslanbek Badilaev for the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting. One of their interviewees, a Grozny resident whose four-room house was demolished by federal artillery four years ago, returned with his family in 2003 from an Ingushetia refugee camp after being promised that they would be among the first to receive compensation. “But a year has gone by,” he said, “and I haven’t got anything yet.” If and when he does finally receive payment, he said that he will have to hand over 30 percent of it to an intermediary who is supposedly using his government contacts to get the money released.

Tsuraev and Badilaev wrote: “Many other claimants interviewed by IWPR, most of whom did not want to be named, said they too had fallen victim to the scam – believed to be run by individuals with good access to compensation commission members. The fee ranges between 30 and 50 per cent.”

The two IWPR journalists also found that the very existence of the compensation scheme has triggered “a surge of inflation in the housing market and construction industry. A three-room apartment in Grozny that would have sold for US$8,000 last year would now go for between US$20,000 and US$25,000, while the cost of building a small three-room detached house has risen to at least US$15,000.” Thus even those families that do manage to receive the money owed to them often find that it is not enough to replace the housing that they had lost.