Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 24

In an article entitled, “To Return: A Bad Omen,” which appeared in the 2 August issue of the website, journalist Ivan Sventsitsky shared his impression of a recent trip to Nazran, Ingushetia at the invitation of the Chechen human rights center “LAM.” He was part of a group led by Yury Samodurov, director of the Andrei Sakharov Museum in Moscow, which included correspondents from Novye Izvestia, Novaya Gazeta, Moskovskie Novosti, Ezhenedel’nyi Zhurnal, and “The journalists from Moscow,” Sventsitsky wrote, “needed only a very little time in order once again to become convinced (it is evident even from Moscow) that the refugees do not want to return [from Ingushetia] to Chechnya. To live on humanitarian aid in old, ripped tents is of course difficult. However, according to the results of a poll conducted by ‘LAM’, more than 80 percent of the refugees do not want to return until their security is ensured. They fear cleansing operations and nocturnal raids during which people disappear. Today there are 1,700 persons missing without trace in the republic…. Also among the victims there are those who took the risk of returning home [from Ingushetia].”

“Here is a fresh fact,” Sventsitsky continued. “On July 22 at 5:00 a.m., at the point of temporary housing located on Novatorov Street in Grozny, federal troops broke into the building. They seized the men there and with insults, beating them, they dragged them into vehicles to take them off to a ‘filtration point.’ They also fired shots from their automatic weapons over the heads of the women who did not want to give up their husbands, supposing, reasonably, that they might never return. A [pro-Moscow] Chechen policeman, Rizvan Gipaev, from the Leninsky District Police Station, who intervened on behalf of the women, was viciously beaten up by the soldiers. This news made its way quickly to the Ingush refugee camps.”