Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 13

The website of the Nizhny Novgorod-based Russian-Chechen Friendship Society (ORChD) reported on March 29 that two Achkoi-Martan residents who had been kidnapped by members of unknown “power structures” on March 27 and March 28 were both released on March 28 after being beaten by their captors. According to the website, members of the same group, which included both ethnic Chechens and Russians, are believed to have burst into the house of Aldavi Arsanov and threatened to take away his 12-year-old son, Belal, whom they apparently suspected of being connected to the rebels. Arsanov apparently managed to talk them out of abducting his son. The separatist Chechenpress website on March 28 reported that three young Chechens in the Achkoi-Martan district center were abducted on March 23 and that another young person was reportedly “taken to an unknown destination” that same day.

Chechenpress on March 28 also called for the release of relatives of rebel field commander Doku Umarov, who, it claimed, were being held hostage by Russian special services. Interfax reported on March 28 that the head of the Shatoi district administration’s construction and architecture department, Turpal-Ali Suleymanov, had been kidnapped. Shatoi district administration chief Saitkhasan Duzaev told the news agency that armed people in camouflage had broken into Suleymanov’s house in the village of Borzhoi, several miles from the town of Shatoi, at dawn and taken him away at gunpoint.

Dmitry Grushkin of Memorial told Interfax on March 28 that the human rights group has registered 52 kidnappings in Chechnya this year. Twenty of those kidnapping victims were released, two were found dead, and 28 are still missing according to the group. Another two people who were believed missing are in police custody, he said. Meanwhile, 39 inhabitants of Chechnya have been killed this year, including 21 civilians, nine policemen and six rebels. Three of the victims have not yet been identified. Grushkin said that according to Memorial’s revised statistics, 415 people were abducted in Chechnya in 2004, 191 of whom are still missing. “We monitor 30 percent of Chechnya’s territory, and even on this 30 percent we are still unable to register all the crimes,” Grushkin said. He added that according to Memorial’s findings, “both the law-enforcement bodies and criminal groups are responsible for the abductions.”

Meanwhile, the local mufti in the Grozny district village of Proletarskoe, Khabibula Umarov, was murdered along with his assistant, Radio Liberty reported on March 25. The Chechen Interior Ministry said the murders were committed by a group of seven rebel fighters dressed in camouflage uniforms with Russian military insignia.