Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 16

Deputy Prosecutor-General for the Southern Federal District Nikolai Shepel announced on April 22 in Nalchik that Aslan Maskhadov’s body had been buried in accordance with the law on terrorism and that “the burial place is not to be revealed,” Itar-Tass reported. “Like with the graves of other Chechen leaders, Ruslan Gelaev (who was shot by two border guards) and Salman Raduev (who was convicted and mysteriously died in prison), on Maskhadov’s grave will be only a name plate with a number,” wrote on April 22. “Thus all the recent disputes over whether or not to hand over Maskhadov’s body to [his] relatives are over.”

In fact, Maskhadov’s relatives, who demanded repeatedly that his body be returned, are planning to take their case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. “We still hope that this decision will be revised and the body will be given to us,” the Associated Press quoted Maskhadov’s son, Anzor, as saying. “In case they don’t change their mind we will have to appeal to the Strasbourg court.” Kommersant on April 23 quoted the acting chairman of the separatist Chechen government, Selim Beshaev, who is in France, as saying that several members of the European Parliament had said they plan to demand that the Russian authorities return Maskhadov’s body to his relatives. Kavkazky Uzel reported on April 26 that representatives of Chechen human rights and public organizations had decided to appeal to President Vladimir Putin for the return of Maskhadov’s body to his relatives and to involve both Russian and international organizations in the campaign.

Taisa Isaeva, head of the information center of the Council of Chechen Non-Governmental Organizations, added that Chechen NGOs had held a roundtable on April 16 in Nazran, Ingushetia, to discuss human rights violation in Chechnya. “At that time a decision was reached to prepare an appeal to the Russian leadership and the international community calling on them to resolve the issue of delivering the Aslan Maskhadov’s body to his relatives,” Isaeva told Kavakzaky Uzel. “Some of those in attendance thought it was also necessary to appeal to the mufti of Chechnya and the head of the republic, Alu Alkhanov, but that idea was rejected. The text of the appeal to the Russian president is now ready, and work is being carried out to collect signatures. More than 40 non-governmental organizations and people involved in human rights activity in Chechnya have agreed to support our appeal. Concurrently, we have sent a letter to representatives of both Russian and international human rights organizations calling on them to sign the appeal to Vladimir Putin to return Maskhadov’s body. Some of them have already agreed to do so.”