Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 11

In what appeared to be a clear violation of instructions issued last week by Lieutenant General Vladimir Moltenskoi, commander of the Combined Group of Russian Forces in Chechnya, some 300 Chechen civilians were detained during a search operation conducted in the village of Tsotsin-Yurt between March 25 and April 1, and all males between the ages of 13 and 65 were beaten so severely that they were unable to walk. They were also forced to sign documents saying that they had not been mistreated. Fourteen civilians vanished without trace during the cleansing operation (RFE/RL, April 3). The April 2 issue of the weekly Moskovskie Novosti contained an interview with members of an elite MVD SOBR unit who had served in Chechnya which recorded their sarcastic reaction to Moltenskoi’s order: “Did you see on television that order of the commander of the forces in Chechnya, Moltenskoi?” the SOBR men asked. “Well if you’re going out on a mopping up operation, then in each house you’re supposed to introduce yourself, you’re not supposed to put on a mask, and you virtually have to show your [internal] passport to the ‘blacks’…. Well, we’ll have a fine special unit after that.”