Memorial: Kidnappings in Chechnya Way Down

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 36

The Memorial human rights group reports that kidnappings in Chechnya are significantly down this year. “We have registered a sharp drop – by three-quarters – in the number of kidnappings, and a very significant drop in disappearances and killings in

Chechnya,” Aleksandr Cherkasov, a member of the council of the Memorial human rights center, told Interfax on September 19. Citing data from Memorial’s monitoring conducted in Chechnya, Cherkasov said that 25 people were kidnapped in the republic this year, of whom 17 were later freed, one killed, five disappeared and two placed under investigation. “In comparison, during the whole of 2006 in Chechnya, 187 people were kidnapped,” Cherkasov said. “Of those, 94 were later set free, 74 were found dead or disappeared, and 19 were placed under investigation.” According to Cherkasov, 544 people were kidnapped in 2002, 453 of whom were later found dead or went missing. “If were compare data from 2002, 2006 and the first eight months of 2007, we can see that there has been a sharp drop in the number of kidnappings since January this year, more significant than all the progress of previous years,” he said. Cherkasov noted, however, that the problem of kidnapping in Chechnya has not disappeared entirely. “For us, even if one person disappears that’s one too many,” he said.

Cherkasov noted that human rights activists have registered a rise in kidnappings in Ingushetia. “Twenty people have been kidnapped in Ingushetia in 2007,” he said. “Five of them were later killed or disappeared.”

Meanwhile, Chechen Deputy Prime Minister Ziyad Sabsabi, who is Chechnya’s envoy to Moscow, said that the drop in the number of kidnappings in Chechnya shows that the situation there has “stabilized,” Interfax reported on September 19. “It is the result of the policy pursued by the federal center and the leadership of the republic to eradicate the crime of kidnapping,” he told the news agency. “The situation has stabilized, and the crime rate is falling considerably. This is logical, there is nothing surprising here. You can now count the number of kidnappings in Chechnya on the fingers of one hand. On this score, the situation in Chechnya is much better than in other regions of Russia.”