There has been no letup in the daily killings of civilians, military and police in Chechnya. The bodies of four Chechens, all of them residents of the town of Nozhai-Yurt, were discovered yesterday in the basement of a building in the Oktyabr region of Djohar [Grozny], the Chechen capital. All four had multiple gunshot and knife wounds. Radio Liberty also reported that the bodies of four other murdered Chechens were discovered this week near the village of Petropavlovskaya. Two of the victims were identified as residents of the town of Vedeno, who had disappeared after having been detained by Russian forces (Lenta.ru, Radio Liberty, May 30). On May 27, the bodies of three Russian women were discovered in the capital’s Leninsk district. These three victims had been shot in the head. Law enforcement agencies have reported that at least forty ethnic Russians have been murdered in Chechnya since February. Also on May 27, unidentified gunmen in Djohar opened fire on two women (their ethnicity was not indicated) who were returning home from grocery shopping. One of the victims died later that day (Russian agencies, May 27). Meanwhile, a Red Cross worker was wounded in the Chechen capital yesterday. According to military spokesmen, a Toyota Land Cruiser carrying the Red Cross worker and his driver tried to pass through a police checkpoint without stopping, after which warning shots were fired. The jeep then stopped, but the Red Cross worker allegedly tried to take a gun away from a policeman manning the checkpoint and was then shot and wounded (Lenta.ru, May 30). The Red Cross, however, apparently did not accept that version of events. In response to the incident, the organization late yesterday halted its operations in Chechnya, saying that it would resume them only if the Russian authorities guaranteed the safety of its workers (Radio Ekho Moskvy, May 30).
Also yesterday, two members of a Moscow police commando unit were killed and one injured in an apparent rebel attack near the mayor’s office in the Chechen capital. The policemen were had just gotten into their car when gunmen opened pistol fire and tossed a grenade into the vehicle before escaping (RBC.ru, May 30). The state Itar-Tass news agency reported that unknown assailants shot a group of federal troops–three policemen and two soldiers–yesterday at Djohar’s central market. No further details were given about the incident or the condition of the victims (Russian agencies, May 30).
Federal forces carried out a series of special operations yesterday in Argun, Shali and other town throughout the republic. The office of the Southern federal district claimed yesterday that four rebels were killed during those operations. On May 29, the Russian military claimed they had killed some twenty Chechen rebel fighters in the breakaway republic during the previous twenty-four hours (Lenta.ru, Agence France Presse, May 30). On May 26, four Russian servicemen and seven rebels were reportedly killed when rebel fighters attacked a column of federal troops. Earlier this week, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov reported that 2,682 Russian soldiers had been killed since Chechen guerrillas attacked neighboring Dagestan, which led to the current Russian military campaign. Ivanov’s figures, however, contradicted those given earlier by the office of presidential aide Sergei Yastrzhembsky: On May 16, it reported that a total number of 3,096 federal troops had been killed in Chechnya between October 1999 and May 15 of this year (Russian agencies, May 26-29; Agence France Presse, May 28).
HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS CALL FOR NEGOTIATIONS TO END CHECHEN CONFLICT.