Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 4 Issue: 16

Correspondent Andrei Riskin of Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on April 28 that complaints about kidnappings continue to come not only from rank-and-file Chechens, but also from members of the Kadyrov administration and from federal officials. Rudnik Dudaev, secretary of Kadyrov’s security council, announced on April 26 that in the five weeks between the March referendum and the last weekend in April, another seventy-nine people had vanished without a trace. Dudaev blamed not only the federal forces but also Chechnya’s own local police. The former, he said, seize people during nocturnal “zachistki” while the latter fail to prevent kidnappings “no matter who is committing them–bandits or soldiers.”

A federal official placed the blame more specifically on the Chechen police. Mikhail Pankov, deputy head of Russia’s Interior Ministry, said that the situation has recently taken a turn for the worse in several parts of the republic. That includes Grozny, where explosions, shootings, and acts of sabotage and terrorism have been growing more rather than less frequent.

Aslambek Aslakhanov, Chechnya’s representative in the federal Duma, told Riskin that every week he receives as many as 500 appeals from citizens–most of them requests for help in finding kidnapped relatives. Unlike Pankov, Aslakhanov blamed the federal forces, which he said “have their own prisons and torture chambers where they torment and mutilate people.”

Significantly, Aslakhanov said that formal rules requiring the presence of representatives of the procuracy during “zachistki” have proved ineffective. In his view, these civil servants are simply too dependent on the military agencies and sometimes do not even try to prevent excesses.