Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 30

Ekho Moskvy radio on July 28 cited reports that special forces had been sent into the republic’s Elbrus district. According to the Kabardino-Balkaria branch of the For Human Rights movement, 15 trucks carrying special-purpose troops and OMON special police commandos arrived on the outskirts of the town of Tyrnyauz. The human rights activists reported that Elbrus district residents were frightened, given that security sweeps were carried out there in June and July.

Meanwhile, the Regnum news agency reported on July 27 that a group of Moscow-based human rights activists traveled to Kabardino-Balkaria in response to reports that the rights of ethnic Balkars in the republic were being violated. One of the visiting activists, For Human Rights movement chairman Lev Ponomarev, told residents of the republican capital, Nalchik, that the situation in Kabarda-Balkaria is “spiraling towards a social explosion and the spread of violence.” He said that while “the rights of all peoples in the republic – Kabardins, Balkars and Russians – are being violated, the Balkar people seem to be a special target.” Moscow Helsinki Group chairwoman Lyudmila Alekseyeva said that the Balkars have “serious grievances” against the local authorities concerning their treatment and that she and her colleagues would raise this issue in Moscow.

The head of the regional branch of For Human Rights, Valery Khatazhukov, said the main cause of the present conflict in Kabardino-Balkaria is not inter-ethnic tensions but the “economic interests of the clans” connected to the republican authorities. “We can clearly see that the authorities are in crisis, which is demonstrated by the fact that they have long been unable to solve problems by universally-accepted means, such as compromise and dialogue,” he said. Khatazhukhov cited other problems in Kabardino-Balkaria, including the repression religious believers and the shortage of radio and TV programs about traditional cultures.

Four policemen were shot to death in Nalchik in the third week of July (see Chechnya Weekly, July 27)