INTERNALLY DISPLACED CHECHENS THREATENED WITH EVICTION
Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 7 Issue: 23
Kavkazky Uzel, citing the Chechen National Salvation Committee (ChKNS), reported on June 5 that 47 families of internally displaced Chechens were facing eviction from a temporary accommodation center, or PVR, on Ulitsa Derzhavina in Grozny on the orders of Khozhbaudi Estamirov, head of the Chechen capital’s Starpromyslovsky district. The website noted that the families had suffered the same fate in Ingushetia when they were all forced out of refugee camps there. The families were reportedly now being offered land plots, but some of them were quoted as saying that they had no materials with which to build new dwellings since they had not received compensation for their old homes destroyed during the military conflict in Chechnya. According to Kavkazky Uzel, many of the displaced families said they would return to Ingushetia if they come under threat from the authorities.
The website quoted ChKNS sources as saying that Starpromyslovsky district head Estamirov had gone to the Ulitsa Derzhavina PVR, ordered that its gas and water supplies be cut off, and warned that if his orders to force the refugees out of the camp are not fulfilled, “force structures” would be brought in to remove them. However, on June 7 Kavkazky Uzel quoted Svetlana Gannushkina, chairwoman of the Civil Assistance aid committee, as saying that the authorities had failed to evict the refugees that day. She told the website that after she received a call from distraught residents of the PVR, reporting that buses had be sent to take them and their belongings away, she had faxed a letter to Chechen President Alu Alkhanov. In it she reminded Alkhanov that he had assured her and other human rights activists during a May 25 meeting that there were no plans to carry out mass forced removals from PVRs in the republic. She also described the situation involving the attempt to evict the 47 families from the Ulitsa Derzhavina PVR and called on him to ensure that the situation was resolved “in such a way that people are not traumatized, that their human dignity does not suffer, and the conditions of their habitation do not worsen.” According to Kavkazky Uzel, the buses were withdrawn from the PVR later on June 6 and the residents were promised they would receive permanent dwellings before June 13.
As Kavkazky Uzel reported, back on May 16, the heads of 46 families living in the Ulitsa Derzhavina PVR had sent a letter to the Civil Assistance aid committee and the Memorial human rights group complaining that the facility had been stuck with a “commandant” whom a majority of residents opposed and that armed members of “local power structures” had threatened those residents who had complained about the facility’s new commandant. The website reported that residents believe the newly appointed commandant, Dagman Almaev, was elevated because his brother had previously commanded a sub-unit of Chechnya’s Anti-Terrorist Center, which, prior to its recent disbanding and absorption into new structures had been one of the main security bodies subordinate to Ramzan Kadyrov. In late April, Kadyrov called the PVRs “nests of crime, drug use and prostitution” and demanded that local law-enforcement bodies impose order on them.
On May 24 Regnum news agency reported that a working group on displaced persons chaired by Kadyrov had announced that there were plans to cut the number of PVRs in the republic in half.
Meanwhile, Ingushetian President Murat Zyazikov told a visiting delegation of ambassadors from the Benelux countries that around 50,000 displaced persons remain in the republic, Newsru.com reported on June 3. “In 2002, there were around 200,000 internally displaced persons located in Ingushetia,” Zyazikov said. “Today…around 50,000 internally displaced persons from the Chechen Republic and Prigorodny district of North Ossetia are located in the republic.” He insisted that the process of returning these people home is completely voluntary and that none are being forced out of Ingushetia. He said Ingushetia must deal with issue of building dwelling for the more than 20,000 internally displaced Ingush from Chechnya who want to stay in Ingushetia, as well as 19,000 from North Ossetia.