Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 5 Issue: 43

Chechen State Council Chairman Taus Dzhabrailov told reporters on November 19 that more than 200,000 people have been killed in Chechnya since 1994. He added that more than 20,000 children were killed during that same period, with tens of thousands more children made orphans, Interfax reported. Dzhabrailov also said that 50 civilians are being killed a month in Chechnya, with the yearly total of those killed, kidnapped and disappeared for other reasons ranging from 2,000 to 3,000.

What is interesting about Dzhabrailov’s estimate of the number people killed in Chechnya over the last decade is its similarity to estimates made by Chechen separatist representatives. For example, Akhmed Zakaev, Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov’s London-based representative, wrote in Britain’s The Guardian on September 7, several days after the denouement to the Beslan hostage crisis, that “at least 200,000 Chechen civilians” had been killed by Russian soldiers since 1994. Zakaev said that 35,000 children had been killed in Chechnya, with another 40,000 children seriously injured, while 32,000 children had lost at least one parent and 6,500 had been orphaned. On September 3, the separatist Kavkaz Center website claimed that 42,000 “Chechen children of school age” had been killed over the last decade.

Earlier this year, Aleksandr Cherkasov of the Memorial human rights center cited a State Statistics Committee estimate that 30,000-40,000 Chechen civilians were killed in the 1994-1996 military campaign, but said that Memorial put the real losses at a minimum of 50,000. Cherkasov said that “around 50,000” had been killed since the second military campaign began in 1999 and more than 3,000 people had “gone missing” (see Eurasia Daily Monitor, May 5). In July, Union of Soldiers’ Mothers Committees head Valentina Melnikova estimated that close 13,000 people had been killed during the second military campaign. She said that estimate was based on lists presented to the soldiers’ mothers committees in Russia’s regions. She also accused the Defense Ministry of not publishing the official data on those killed in Chechnya as required by law (MosNews, July 6).

Back in 1996, Aleksandr Lebed estimated that “about 80,000 people…plus or minus 10,000” had died in the 1994-1996 war. The late general brokered the peace agreement with the Chechen rebels that brought an end to that conflict.