Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 22

Leading Russian human rights spokesmen have voiced strong reservations about the recent appointment of Abdul-Khakim Sultygov, a 40-year-old ethnic Chechen, as President Putin’s new special representative for human rights in Chechnya. The chairman of Memorial, Oleg Orlov, for example, doubted that Sultygov would have any more freedom to act than did his predecessor and emphasized that Sultygov’s appointment “would not affect a decision by leading human rights groups to abandon monthly meetings with military and pro-Moscow Chechen officials.” Lyudmila Alekseeva, head of the Moscow Helsinki Group, voiced similar reservations (AP, July 12). Ruslan Badalov, head of the National Salvation Committee, a Chechen human rights organization, said: “Although [Sultygov] speaks like a Chechen, his interests are in Moscow. He is a Kremlin man.” And Lipkhan Bazaeva of the Memorial office in Ingushetia said: “[Sultygov] will be good at doing what the Kremlin tells him to do, but nothing will change in Chechnya” (Moscow Times, July 15). On July 19, reported two recent announcements made by Sultygov: he was calling for the revoking of General Moltenskoi’s Order No. 80, which had been adopted under pressure from human rights organizations, and “he intends to place part of the responsibility for the consequences of conducting cleansing operations on the local [pro-Moscow] authorities and personally on the heads of administration.”