Pressure against Chechen refugees in Ingushetia has intensified further in recent days, Aleksandr Podrabinek of the newspaper Russky kurier reported on August 18. Hooligans are throwing rocks at the tents during the night, he wrote, and the tents are also being besieged at night by cars that honk their horns so that the refugees cannot sleep. The Kadyrov administration’s prime minister, Anatoly Popov, who is now serving formally as “acting president” while Kadyrov pursues his own candidacy, told the news agency Interfax on August 13 that all of the tent camps for Chechen refugees in Ingushetia must be closed by October 1. That is just four days before the election.
According to Podrabinek, refugees in the Avtodor camp in the Ingush city of Karabulak recently received a new ultimatum. It warned them to vacate the camp by August 18. They have responded by sending a written appeal to the president of Ingushetia, Murat Zyazikov, insisting that “we do not want to return to Chechnya, but we have been excluded from the [official] lists of refugees, and they are threatening to tear down our tents with bulldozers. Defend us from this lawlessness….You promised that not one refugee would be removed from the camp and returned to Chechnya by force.”
The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees stated on August 15 that it was “gravely concerned over the current situation in Ingushetia where displaced Chechens have been shifted from place to place over the past two weeks and subjected to intense pressure by government officials to immediately return to Chechnya or to move elsewhere in Ingushetia.” The UN agency said that it “strongly objects to the aggressive and unacceptable manner” in which refugees from the Bella camp (see Chechnya Weekly, August 14) have been treated.