Members of the Memorial human rights group met with Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov on February 22. Kavkazky Uzel on February 28 quoted the chairman of the board of the Memorial human rights center, Oleg Orlov, as saying of that a “mutual point of view” had more or less been reached during the meeting on a majority of issues. “The human rights activists and the Chechen authorities demonstrated identical views on the need to review the masses of criminal cases against Chechnya’s civilian population, to punish those guilty of gross human rights violations in the republic [and] to begin work by forensic medical laboratories to identify the bodies of those killed,” Orlov said. “We agreed with one another that people must live in their homes and temporary accommodation centers (PVRs) [shut down]; that people must not be kidnapped; that, in general, human rights need to be observed.”
According to Kavkazky Uzel, there were also areas of disagreement, with the Memorial staffers telling Kadyrov and other members of the Chechen administration that Chechen law-enforcement bodies, and not only federal security structures, have frequently abducted and held people illegally. The human rights activists said there are illegal prisons on the grounds of the Akhmad-khadzhi Kadyrov Patrol-Sentry Service Regiment No. 2 (PPSM-2), among other places. Orlov said Kadyrov and other Chechen officials denied that Chechen law-enforcement personnel are involved in such crimes but admitted that former Chechen Deputy Interior Minister Alambek Yasaev, who commanded PPSM-2 before resigning at the end of last year, had been involved in crimes. Orlov quoted Kadyrov as saying that information about Yasaev’s crimes had been sent to Moscow and adding that “thank God, he is no longer in the law-enforcement system or in the Chechen Republic.” According to Orlov, the Chechen officials also denied that there are illegal prisons in the village of Goiti, where the two Aushev brothers, residents of the village of Surkhakhi in Ingushetia who were kidnapped from the Chechen capital of Grozny in September and released following protests in Nazran, were reportedly held (Chechnya Weekly, December 13 and September 13, 20 and 27, 2007).
“At the same time, we stated with satisfaction that at the current moment the situation involving torture in Chechnya has greatly improved,” Orlov said. “At any rate, reports about it [torture] have become significantly fewer. We believe this is an objective reality.”
According to Orlov, Kadyrov also denied that there have been rights violations in the course of resettling residents of temporary accommodation centers (PVRs) located in Grozny. However, Orlov added that Kadyrov had demonstrated a “very constructive approach” by offering to take Memorial’s information about such cases and work together with Memorial to verify it.
Kadyrov, for his part, said on February 22 after meeting with the Memorial staffers that “in the Chechen Republic there is not a single subject that is closed to human rights activists,” Kavkazky Uzel reported on February 23. “I am ready to render assistance in studying any problem, to consider any suggestion by human rights organizations, and I believe that the end result will be better if we resolve these problems together.” According to the website, Kadyrov said that he himself had lost those nearest and dearest to him “for the sake of establishing order and ensuring human rights in the Chechen Republic.” He insisted that he is the person “most interested” in ensuring that no one’s rights in Chechnya are infringed upon. “For that, I am doing and am ready to do everything possible; however, the actions of not all of the law-enforcement bodies depend on me,” Kadyrov said. “Many of these are directly subordinated to the central departments, and this explains why representatives of the power structures so far have not take measures concerning the many crimes committed in Chechnya.”