Relatives of Missing in Chechnya Issue Appeal

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 23

Relatives of missing residents of Chechnya issued an appeal calling on the federal authorities to work out an efficient mechanism for clarifying their fate, Interfax reported on June 1.

“In the years that we have spent looking for our sons, we have gone through the bitter sufferings of grief-stricken mothers, fathers and other relatives of those who were forcibly taken away and have gone missing,” the appeal stated. “We want to know the fate of our loved ones, however bitter it may be. It is very important to us to know where they are serving their prison terms, if they have been convicted, or where they are buried if they are no longer alive. The government should not ignore the problem that we have been raising for years. Officials responsible for abductions should be punished.”

The appeal’s authors called for the creation of an interagency government commission “to resolve problems related to mass abductions and disappearances of Russian citizens in the territory of the Chechen Republic,” Interfax reported. According to the news agency, during a meeting in Grozny on June 1, relatives of missing Chechens delivered the appeal to German Bundestag member Marieluise Beck, German foreign political consultant Reinhard Weisshuhn and Ella Pamfilova, the head of the Russian presidential civil society and human rights council. Pamfilova promised to convey the statement personally to Russian President Vladimir Putin. “The Russian president knows that this problem is really urgent and demands that it be resolved as soon as possible,” Pamfilova said.

Kavazky Uzel reported on June 5 that the human rights group Memorial claimed that 16 people were kidnapped in Chechnya between January and March of this year. According to the human rights group, ten of them were subsequently freed or ransomed, three disappeared without a trace, two turned out to be in the custody of law-enforcement bodies and one was discovered to have been murdered. An anonymous Memorial staffer told Kavazky Uzel that these estimates were partial because the group can only monitor 25-30 percent of Chechnya’s territory and reports of abductions often lag by two to three months.