Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 2 Issue: 33

The no. 36 (September 11) issue of Kommersant-Vlast contains a detailed report on the current situation in the Chechen refugee tent camps located in Ingushetia by journalist Elena Samoilova, who had just spent a week living in the camps (including sleeping there overnight). According to official statistics, she reports, there are now about 148,000 refugees living in Ingushetia, “who abandoned Chechnya in the course of the antiterrorist operation.” The actual number of refugees, she adds, “is two times more.” Those who are not being counted by the authorities are persons who have not been registered by the organs of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. “In a majority of the tent camps on the territory of Ingushetia,” she writes, “the refugees receive dry food from the Ministry of the Federation. The standard allotment for one person per month includes: 600 grams of rice, 600 grams of buckwheat, 600 grams of sugar, 700 grams of vermicelli and one-and-a-half cans of beef stew. The Russian Red Cross provides bread for the refugees. In practically all of the camps there is no less than one loaf of bread per person per day. The International Red Cross ensures an unlimited supply of water in the tent camps.”

Asked why they did not wish to return home to Chechnya, the refugees responded to Samoilova, “We would go back even on foot, if only they could guarantee our safety! But in Chechnya people are perishing every day. Recently we went home for three days to the mountains to see our relatives, and for all three days they fired at us from [Russian military] helicopters. In our village, two persons died of a heart attack from the experience. If Moscow want us to return, let Putin’s wife, to take an example, come to Vedeno and cut a ribbon marking the road to a peaceful Chechnya.”