Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 6

On February 7, AP correspondent Yury Bagrov reported that, “Federal troops hunted for rebels suspected of hiding in two Chechen villages for a ninth straight day, despite calls for an immediate end to the security sweeps amid accusations of human rights violations by soldiers. Federal troops also expanded the so-called mopping-up operations beyond Starye Atagi and Novye Atagi, south of Grozny, to include other Chechen villages and the republic’s second-largest city, Gudermes.” Bagrov noted, further, that 300 Chechens who had managed to evade the cordons around the villages had staged a protest outside the Chechen prosecutor’s office in Djohar (Grozny). They were demanding an immediate end to the sweeps and the release of all villagers detained by the federal forces. Writing in the February 7 issue of the Prague Watchdog, journalist Ruslan Isaev reported, in a similar vein, that a mass protest against the conduct of the Russian troops had been going on in the Chechen capital for three days. “Some 1,000 people,” he wrote, “predominantly women, are taking part in the demonstration in front of the building of the [pro-Moscow] Chechen administration. The protesters demand the release of their co-villagers detained by Russian military during the recent operations.”