Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 12

Memorial also issued a report on Chechnya, entitled “Chechnya 2004: ‘New’ methods of ‘counter-terrorism’,” which was mainly devoted the issue of kidnappings. “The argument about the need to fight against kidnapping and hostage-taking was actively used by official Moscow as one of the main justifications for the second military incursion into the Chechen Republic in 1999,” stated the Memorial report, which was posted on, the Prava cheloveka v Rossii (“Human Rights in Russia”) website, on March 17. “In fact, at that time the problem was acute in Chechnya: criminal bands were kidnapping foreigners, staff of Russian Federation power structures, businessmen and simply well-to-do people, most often local inhabitants.”

“Strange as it may seem, the federal troops introduced into the republic to put things in order also resorted to taking hostages, who were used, in particular, as ‘human shields’. An example of that type of crime was the events in the village of Komsomolskoe at the beginning of March 2000, when the military put inhabitants who were leaving [the village] in a field between the village, where the militants were located, and the positions of the federal forces, and kept them there for three days. In the ensuing four years, there are quite a few cases in which representatives of federal power structures abducted or even killed relatives of people suspected of belonging to Chechen armed formations, blew up or burned down their homes. However, in 2004, the repression against relatives of militants, including taking them as hostages, took on a significantly more massive and systematic character.” According to Memorial, “mothers, wives and sisters of militants” became the kidnappers’ main targets.

Much of the Memorial report is devoted to detailing kidnappings that took place last year.

Meanwhile, Kavkazky Uzel reported on March 22 that a woman told police in Grozny’s Oktyabarsk district that approximately 10 armed raiders in camouflage uniforms had burst into her home and abducted her son. The website also reported that two women in Chechnya’s Naursk district had reported to local police that their husbands had been kidnapped from their homes by armed raiders. The Russian-Chechen Friendship Society reported on March 21 that the agricultural administration chief in the Urus-Martan district village of Tangi-Chu, Shamsutdin Dzhambulatov, had been kidnapped on March 18 by unidentified persons in camouflage uniforms and masks. The abductors were reportedly ethnic Chechens.

The separatist Chechenpress news agency reported on March 17 that federal forces had abducted relatives of rebel field commander Doku Umarov.