Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 25

The September 3 issue of the weekly Ezhenedel’nyi Zhurnal carried a report by journalist Evgeny Pakhomov entitled “Deportation to One’s Home,” which sums up his observations made during a recent visit made to the Chechen capital of Grozny (Djohar) to look into conditions at Points of Temporary Housing (PTH) established there for returning IDPs. Pakhomov’s trip to Grozny had been organized by the Andrei Sakharov Museum and Public Center in Moscow. Visiting the PTH located on Mayakovsky Street, considered “one of the most comfortable” in the city, Pakhomov listened to a litany of complaints from residents at the complex: “There is no water. There are no toilet facilities. The heating has not been turned on. The basement is full of rancid water, and in several months winter will be here.” A Chechen woman IDP named Khava told him: “It was better in the tent [camp]” in the village of Znamenskoe, Nadterechny District, Chechnya. Khava recalled that the residents of that tent camp had been subjected to a “psychological working-over” by the pro-Moscow authorities as early as this past spring. “Each morning the bosses arrived in Volga automobiles. They said to us: ‘Return to Grozny, all conditions await you there.’ In June they ceased giving out ‘humanitarian aid.’ They said: ‘When you return, nine humanitarian organizations await you.'” Instead, the IDPs find themselves required to cope with nonfunctioning plumbing and with a complete lack of toilet facilities. There is, it is true, one outdoor toilet located on the street, but at night a military curfew is in effect, and the toilet cannot be used. “We hold it in.” The deputy head of another PTH located on Novatorov Street, complained to Pakhomov: “Nothing has been prepared! How can you treat people like that? There are no cots, no bed linens. There are not enough mattresses, and people must live on the floor. There is no water and no sanitation. There is not even any electricity!”

In similar fashion, writing in the September 5 issue of the Moscow Times, correspondent Yevgenia Borisova described one Chechen woman IDP, Kulimat Magomadova, who had also been moved from a camp in Znamenskoe to the PTH on Mayakovsky Street. She “regrets the day she agreed to move back to Grozny.” “We have nothing to eat and my children have no money to buy materials for school,” Magomadova informed Borisova. Magomadova “lives with her six children and bedridden husband in a tiny, 10-square meter room…. There is no electricity or water. Most buildings lack toilets or baths, and they are locked shut at night…. [There is] no going to the toilet between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.” Residents at the Novatorov Street PTH told Borisova that “they were receiving bread every day from the migration service, a half-loaf per person. That was all the food they were getting.”