Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 21

Writing in the July 8 (no. 48) issue of Novaya Gazeta, the editors of the twice-weekly pro-democracy publication reported: “They have released from prison one of the most cruel of the [Russian] military criminals of the second Chechen war, a man who used a saw to extract the teeth of victims while he was seeking to gain their confession to having been participants in the bandit formations.” This sadistic individual, Sergei Lapin, who had served in Chechnya in late 2000 and early 2001 with a combined MVD unit from Khanty-Mansi and had been charged with kidnapping and murder, was also, the editors noted, the person “who more than once threatened to murder our correspondent, Anna Politkovskaya, due to which she had been placed under police protection and had then been forced for a time to go abroad. The ‘Cadet’ [Lapin’s nickname] admitted this fact [of the murder threats against Politkovskaya] and did not in the slightest repent of them. We demand the immediate re-arrest of Mr. Lapin, because we are certain that the lives of the witnesses [who testified against him] and of our correspondent are once again under threat.” In an article devoted to Lapin which appeared in the same issue of Novaya Gazeta, Politkovskaya recalled that the Khanty-Mansi police unit to which Lapin had belonged had become notorious in Chechnya for its savage behavior toward the civilian populace–murder, kidnapping, forced castration, and so on. Recently, however, she remarked, this unit has been returned to Grozny “on the orders of President Putin, as was officially reported to us by the deputy minister of internal affairs of the Russian Federation [General] Ivan Golubev.”