Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 23

Valentina Melnikova, head of the Committee of Soldiers Mothers of Russia and chairwoman of the United People’s Party of Soldiers’ Mothers, said that more than 25,000 Russian servicemen have been killed in Chechnya since the second war there began in 1999, Kavkazky Uzel reported on June 11. She also claimed that more than 700 Russian enlisted men and officers have been buried in Chechnya. “There are maps of the republic where these burial places are marked; there is a federal law according to which…money from the budget should be apportioned for the search and exhumation of our children; all of this was ordered by the command of the 58th army, but nothing is being carried out,” Melnikova said. The presidential commission for finding those who died and disappeared during the Chechen conflict “now practically does not operate; it has completely died, like our soldiers,” she added. “And no one wants know about either it or our guys abandoned in Chechnya by the federal authorities and the president personally – he answers for everything in our country now.” Sources in the Russian Defense Ministry, Interior Ministry and Federal Security Service called Melnikova’s figures “exaggerations,” Kavkazky Uzel reported.

Meanwhile, Sergei Topchy, the deputy commander-in-chief of the Russian Interior Ministry’s Internal Troops, said on June 15 that losses among the Internal Troops have fallen this year more than five-fold compared with the same period last year, Ekho Moskvy radio reported. On June 9, Chechnya’s military commissar, Said-Selim Tsuev, said there are “no burial grounds of the remains of Russian servicemen” on Chechen territory. “There are crosses installed at the sites of military clashes where people really died, but there are no actual burial grounds,” the Regnum news agency quoted him as saying.