Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 21

Writing in the May 30 edition of Novaya gazeta, Anna Politkovskaya, the bi-weekly’s special correspondent covering Chechnya, compared the situation over the past few weeks in Chechnya and Ingushetia to 1937, the high point of Stalin’s terror. She also said the rash of kidnappings in both republics was very similar to what happened just prior to the Beslan school seizure and the Dubrovka theater siege, and cited the case of the Gorchkhanov family, whose home in the Ingushetian village of Plievo was raided by unknown men in camouflage and masks on May 23. According to Politkovskaya, the raiders, who identified themselves as being “from the FSB,” severely beat Magomed-Bashir Gorchkhanov after demanding to know where he was hiding weapons. They kidnapped his brother, Adam, who relatives describe as not being entirely mentally competent, as well as all of the brothers’ documents and the family’s photo album.

In Politkovskaya’s view, such raids and kidnappings are something other than just another attempt to create the impression that the security services are conducting successful anti-terrorist operations. “‘They’ are again concocting something,” she wrote. “They are preparing ‘terrorist material’. And there are too many coincidences here: for example, those who were carried off prior to Nord-Ost and Beslan were also without fail kidnapped with [their] documents. When they simply want to destroy the latest ‘accomplice’, they don’t take documents. Passports are needed for lying in the pockets of neutralized terrorists – they must be shown on television later to demonstrate to us [that] the terrorists went on their business with identity cards. And it very much helps in quickly ‘determining the malefactors’ identity’.”

Politkovskaya reported that as the May 30 issue of Novaya gazeta went to press, Adam Gorchkhanov was taken to a hospital in Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia, practically dead. “The doctors do not doubt that he was tortured,” she wrote.