Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 9

On March 1, the Prava Cheloveka v Rossii (Human Rights in Russia) website, Hro.org, citing the Council of Non-Governmental Organizations, reported that the bodies of Rezvan and Zina Arsamemruev were discovered in the village of Goiti in the Urus-Martan district on February 27. The couple disappeared last December after they were abducted by unknown people in camouflage uniforms and masks. The victims were reportedly shot to death by assailants who used automatic weapons.

On February 27, residents of Grozny’s 30th district buried the body of an unidentified male who was the victim of an extra-judicial killing, Kavkazky Uzel reported on February 28. The head of the “Koalitsiya” inter-regional organization, Denisolt Yakhyev, told the website that Russian troops had handed over the man’s body, which bore signs of a violent death, to the mullah of a local mosque on February 24. The victim appeared to have died as the result of a bullet wound to the stomach. “After getting a receipt from the mullah that they had handed over the body, they left,” Yakhyev said. “Who they were and which federal structure they belonged to, he did not know.” Locals who saw the body said that it had several gunshot wounds, its chest and stomach had been cut open and later stitched closed, an eye was poked out and there were many cuts around the area of the heart. On February 26, staff of the Memorial human rights center and the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society’s Information Center examined the body and concluded that its unnatural emaciation and atrophied muscles suggested that the victim had starved for a long period before dying. The body also had multiple bruises and abrasions.

Kavkazky Uzel also reported that residents of the Groznensky district village of Alkhan-Kala on February 24 buried the body of an unidentified young man that was discovered on February 23 in a forest belt several kilometers from the village. The body bore multiple gunshot wounds. According to the website, the victim was apparently shot with an automatic weapon. Later, police identified the victim as Alkhan-Kala resident Ramzan Magomadov. According to relatives, unknown persons abducted him from his home on January 14.

Citing the Council of Non-Governmental Organizations, a Nazran-based group that monitors the human rights situation in Chechnya, the Chechen separatist Kavkazcenter website reported on February 27 that the body of a local resident was found in the village of Naurskaya on February 26. The victim had been shot. Kavkazcenter also reported that “occupiers and puppets” – meaning Russian troops and pro-Moscow Chechen forces –kidnapped a 24-year-old resident of the village of Tangi-Chu in the Achkoi-Martan district. According to the website, local residents reported that the kidnappers had arrived in the village in several cars without license plates. Kavkazcenter also reported that three local residents were kidnapped during so-called “targeted” zachistki, or mopping-up raids, in the Naursk district village of Kalinovskaya on February 25.

The Russian-Chechen Friendship Society (ORChD) reported on February 26 and February 27 that Razet Dadaeva, an 18-year-old student of the Chechen State Oil University, was abducted on February 19 as she was leaving one of the university’s buildings. Eyewitnesses reported that her kidnappers were three men in camouflage uniforms who spoke to one another in Chechen. The ORChD reported on February 26 that unknown people had murdered Movladi Ezhiev, a local resident of the village of Naursk in the Naursk district. It also reported that Adlan Ismailov, who was kidnapped from his home in the village of Achkoi-Martan by unknown armed persons on February 18, was freed on February 23. Ismailov’s relatives said his captors had neither accused him of anything nor beat or tortured him. They quoted Ismailov as saying that he might have been abducted as the result of a false denunciation accusing him of planning a terrorist attack. The ORChD reported that Ruslan Arsmokaev, a resident of Katyr-Yurt, a village in the Achkoi-Martan district, was kidnapped on February 22 after two cars forced his car off the road.

The Chechnya Committee of National Salvation reported on February 24 that “unknown representatives of power structures in masks and camouflage uniforms” kidnapped a young man, approximately 25 years old, at a filling station on the Kavkaz highway not far from the intersection of the roads leading to the villages of Sernovodsk and Assinovskaya. According to eyewitnesses, four servicemen pulled up in a car, grabbed the victim and threw him in the trunk, firing in the air when bystanders tried to intervene. The committee quoted local residents as saying that armed men in masks and camouflage uniforms had periodically abducted people in the area.

Human Rights Watch researcher Anna Neistat told a Moscow press conference on February 16 that more than 1,000 people were kidnapped in Chechnya in 2004, and that several of them are still missing, Interfax reported. Abductions in Chechnya have averaged two persons per day over the last several years, Neistat said, adding that Human Rights Watch’s data indicates that security structures are involved in approximately 30 percent of the kidnappings. “If anyone thought, during the fighting in Chechnya, that it could not get any worse, he was mistaken,” the Moscow Times quoted Neistat as saying. “In some places in Chechnya, people who managed to survive two wars are so terrorized today that they do not leave their homes and are afraid to speak out.”

Meanwhile, Russian Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov said on March 1 that a number of people, including eight Russian servicemen, have been convicted of kidnapping people in Chechnya over the last several years, Interfax reported. Ustinov said that his office had received 2,500 reports of kidnappings since 2000.