Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 16

On May 30, the Associated Press reported that a gathering of Chechen women were engaged in protesting the abduction by federal forces and subsequent disappearance of their relatives in a demonstration which was held outside the offices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) located in Znamenskoe in northern Chechnya. “Pinning portraits of relatives [taken away by the federal forces] to the fence outside the OSCE offices…. Fifteen women carried signs written in both Russian and English reading: ‘Help us find our children seized by the Russian military’ and ‘We want our children back.’ The women, who were from the village of Starye Atagi and from Grozny, said they would be joined by others from villages also affected by so called mopping-up operations.” In this context, the May 28 issue of Nezavisimaya Gazeta carried a piece by war correspondent Mikhail Khodarenok, a well-known “hawk” on the subject of the conflict in Chechnya, questioning whether the OSCE Assistance Group in Znamenskoe had a future role to play at all. Presently, he observed, the OSCE mission is merely serving to “duplicate” the work of the Council of Europe mission, also located in Znamenskoe, “in the sphere of human rights and in the creation of local judicial organs.”