Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 18

In an interview with the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza on June 10, Oleg Orlov, the leader of the Russian human rights organization Memorial, expressed strong concern that Chechen IDPs living in Ingushetia might soon be forced back into their home republic. Ingush families who have taken Chechen IDPs into their homes are presently undergoing increased pressure and intimidation. “Two weeks ago in the hamlet of Sleptsovskaya in Ingushetia,” Orlov said, “OMON troops detained five young Chechens. At the first opportunity, they also took two Ingush. They beat them up. They forced them to confess to crimes they never committed. One of the detainees was probably raped. After something like this, the most hospitable people [among the Ingush] see that compassion is connected with too much risk.”

As for Chechnya itself, Orlov remarked, “A majority of the houses are in ruins. There aren’t many temporary shelters either. If refugees return to Chechnya, they will surely live in tents–as in Ingushetia. But from the propaganda point of view this moving makes sense. Moscow is going to announce to the Council of Europe that ‘the problem of refugees has been positively solved’…. Chechnya has been closed for the Russian [journalists], the more so for the foreign journalists. To get there, a special accreditation is needed which is issued only by the Kremlin…. Of course, refugees in Chechnya won’t be so talkative and outspoken any more as in Ingushetia, where they feel more secure. There [in Chechnya] for any careless word the federal forces can conduct a ‘cleansing operation’ in their camp” (posted in English translation on the Discussion List about Chechnya, June 12).