Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 35

Writing in the November 11 issue of Novaya Gazeta, award-winning war correspondent Anna Politkovskaya focused on the fate of the estimated 100,000 Chechens living in Moscow in the aftermath of the October hostagetaking crisis. A Russian schoolteacher stood a young Chechen girl named Isita up before her class and announced: “Students, Isita is a Chechen. This is something you must know.” Heavy pressure, Politkovskaya noted, is coming “from the top” for schoolteachers to exhibit precisely such harsh “patriotism.” Aelita Shidaeva, age 31, is a refugee from Chechnya who has been living in Moscow with her parents and a young daughter. On October 30, fifteen police broke into the café where Aelita had been working twelve hours a day, took her into custody, and then interrogated her for seven hours working in teams. Aelita fainted after this experience. “They said to me,” Aelita recalled, “that if I did not admit my ties with the terrorists, they would plant narcotics or firearms on me.” While still at the police station, Aelita was informed that she had been fired from her job at the cafe. Her daughter, Khadizhat, is currently being threatened with expulsion from school because Aelita lacks a form confirming that she is a single mother; it is completely impossible for Aelita to obtain such a form from Chechnya. Politkovskaya concluded by indicting “the start of a new war of shameless state racism” directed against Chechens as an entire people. In a similar vein, correspondent David Filipov reported in the November 17 issue of the Boston Globe that Magomed Khayauri, a senior official in the pro-Moscow Chechen administration, related that police had told him that they now had orders to “expel Chechens from [Moscow] in any way possible.” Khayauri revealed that the police had planted drugs on his son, Akhmed, 20, a successful student, and on his nephew, Khussein, 24. Both are now being held in pretrial prison. “Now I don’t know what to do,” Khayauri commented despairingly.