NOVYE ATAGI DEMONSTRATORS PROTEST ARRESTS
Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 35
Chechen Interior Ministry personnel in Shali on September 19 seized a videocassette from a Vesti-Chechnya television crew containing footage that they had shot of a demonstration in the village of Novye Atagi, Kavkazky Uzel reported. According to the website, some 20 demonstrators, most of them Novye Atagi residents, had gathered near a bridge across the Argun River and blocked the Grozny-Novy Atagi highway and demanded the freeing of a group of people who had earlier been detained. After shooting the footage and speaking to the demonstrators, police led the TV team to the Shali Interior Ministry headquarters to discuss the fate of the Novye Atagi residents who had been detained, and the TV crew was able to meet with one of them. When one of the journalists asked him why his waist was bandaged, the detainee said that his kidneys were hurting. After the team taped that interview, police seized the videocassette and advised the journalists to go home.
One of the demonstrators told the Russian Chechen Friendship Society (ORChD) that they had gathered to protest the abduction of ten Novye Atagi residents over the night of September 13-14. Five of the ten were released the following day severely beaten up, while four remain in the custody of the Shali police and are accused of murdering a policeman. The whereabouts of the tenth man, identified as Islam Bakalov, remains unknown: according to participants in the demonstration, the chief of the Shali police told Bakalov’s relatives that Chechen police personnel had nothing to do with his disappearance and promised that everything would be done to find him. Citing local residents, the Council of Non-Governmental Organizations, the Nazran-based group that monitors the human rights situation in Chechnya, reported on September 16 that law-enforcement bodies had captured and taken away six young men in Novye Atagi on the night of September 14 and detained seven more local men the following morning. The group reported that a 15 year-old boy had earlier been illegally detained and released several days later after “brutal beating up and torture, including by electrocution.”
On September 17, a group of some 100 Shali district residents, most of them women, blocked traffic moving across Argun River bridge, a law-enforcement source told Interfax. The protesters, who were protesting the September 13-14 disappearances, carried signs reading, “Return our sons and brothers!” The source said protesters had blocked the highway on for several hours on each of the previous two days.
The ORChD’s Russian-Chechen Information Agency (RChIA) reported on September 16 that members of “federal power structures” had kidnapped a woman identified as Toita Dzhabrailova in the Shali district village of Serzhen-Yurt. According to RChIA, Dzhabrailova, a resident of the Vedeno district village of Elistanzhi, was traveling by bus from Elistahzi to Grozny when the bus was stopped at a security checkpoint on the outskirts of Serzhen-Yurt. According to eyewitnesses, Russian soldiers led Dzhabrailova off the bus after inspecting all of its passengers’ documents and drove away with her in an unknown direction. Some passengers who unsuccessfully tried to stop her from being detained were beaten. While Dzhabrailova’s relatives refused to comment on the incident, the RchIA quoted Elistanzhi residents as saying she was probably detained because one of her relatives is “an active member of the Chechen armed resistance.”