Publication: Monitor Volume: 8 Issue: 41

Stanislav Ilyasov, head of Chechnya’s pro-Moscow government, announced the start of a project to resettle in Djohar (Grozny), the Chechen capital, refugees living in a tent camp in the northern Chechen village of Znamenskoe. According to Ilyasov, four dormitories fitted with basics like beds and gas stoves and capable of housing around 3,000 people have been readied for the returnees in the capital. He noted that the federal budget for this year allocates 1.5 billion rubles (some US$50 million) to assist citizens who have temporarily left their homes–a sum three times the amount earmarked for the same purpose in last year’s budget. Ilyasov said that more than 200,000 people have already been returned to Djohar (, February 25).

At the same time, large-scale security operations in Chechnya have led to an upsurge in the number of people leaving the republic. The refugee camps in Ingushetia are again full, and refugees who have arrived there recently have found that there is no place to house them. Those in charge of the tent cities point to the actions of the republican authorities, who, they say, are not allowing new tents to be set up. This latest wave of refugees is linked to the large-scale “zachistki” (special operations), being carried out by the Russian military. Ingushetia’s migration service is refusing to register refugees arriving from Chechnya. The republic’s emergency situations minister, Valery Kuksa, says it is the federal center that has ordered the local authorities not to register the refugees. He called on representatives of international humanitarian and nongovernmental organizations in Nazran to put pressure on the Kremlin to change the policy (Radio Liberty, February 25).

Meanwhile, criminal charges have been filed against a number of people responsible for financing work to rebuild Chechnya. These individuals, who include officials and the heads of enterprises, came under suspicion after an audit of federal budget funds sent to Chechnya from Moscow. On Monday (February 25), an anonymous Chechen law enforcement official said that 200 such audits had been carried out last year, and that of the 1.55 billion rubles (more than US$50 million) in funds that were investigated, more than US$3 million were used improperly At the same time, law enforcement agencies in North Ossetia and Ingushetia seized around 150 tons of illegal oil products over the weekend. The seizures were part of a police operation code-named Chechenskaya Neft, or Chechen Oil, which is aimed at trade in illegal home-made gasoline, which somehow makes it through Russian military checkpoints along Chechnya’s borders into the neighboring republics (Interfax, Russian agencies, February 25).