Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 7 Issue: 3

The Memorial human rights group said that the number of abductions in Chechnya dropped in 2005 but that kidnapping remains an acute problem, the Associated Press reported on January 17. According to Memorial, 316 people were kidnapped last year, of whom 127 are still missing and 23 were found dead, Interfax reported. Memorial registered 396 abductions in 2004 and says 1,799 Chechen civilians have been kidnapped since 2002, with about 1,000 of them not yet found. Chechen President Alu Alkhanov, for his part, claimed that only 77 people were kidnapped in Chechnya in 2005, down from 213 in 2004, reported on January 17. Alkhanov said there was a clear reduction in kidnappings but that the Chechen authorities’ main task—”the complete extirpation of kidnapping as species of crime”—had not been fulfilled “in full measure.” RIA Novosti, meanwhile, reported that the Chechnen authorities have created a single database to keep track of kidnappings.

Kavkazky Uzel on January 17 quoted the Council of Non-Governmental Organizations as saying in a statement that members of unknown “power structures” kidnapped Beksolt Derbiev, a resident of the Achkoi-Martan district village of Kotar-Yurt, on January 15. The council cited eyewitnesses who said that several of the kidnappers wore masks while others did not and that Derbiev was driven away after a kidnapper who led him out of his home asked another standing outside, “Is this the one?” and received an affirmative answer. The next day Derbiev, having been severely beaten and tortured, was dumped on the outskirts of Kotar-Yurt. Kavkazky Uzel reported that he had broken fingers and toes and damaged kidneys and was in “extremely grave condition.”

The Prima news agency reported on January 13 that Doki Mezhidov, a 36-year-old resident of the Vedeno district village of Elistanzhi, was freed in the city of Gudermes after being kidnapped from his home on December 6 by unknown armed people. Relatives said they were forced to pay a $4,000 ransom for his release. During his captivity, which lasted more than one month, Medzhidov was kept in the basement of a house he had not seen before, regularly beaten and given only bread and water. According to Prima, Minkail Akhmadov, a resident of the Kurchaloevsky district village of Mairtup, was kidnapped from his home on January 12.