Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 7 Issue: 11

Kavkazky Uzel reported on March 14 that the widow of Rustam Nafedsev, one of the rebels killed in the attack on Nalchik, Kabardino-Balkaria, last October 13, had filed suit in the Nalchik District Court against the republic’s Pension Fund for refusing to grant her social payments for her three pre-school age children. A Pension Fund official told the website that the refusal had been ordered by the Southern Federal District branch of the federal Prosecutor General’s Office, which stated that such payments cannot be made to relatives of those killed while attempting to commit terrorists acts. According to Kavkazky Uzel, half of the 93 rebels killed in Nalchik raid were married, and a number of them had two or three children, some of whom were born after their fathers’ deaths. A number of other widows of the dead militants are also planning to file suit. Their lawyer, Larisa Dorogova, said that the federal law on pensions does not cite any conditions under which such payments cannot be made. “The law does not stipulate under what conditions the child became [fatherless],” she said. “On the contrary, it is emphasized that everyone has the right to that pension. I think that this is discrimination against innocent children.”

The Caucasus Times reported on March 13 that a group of mothers of some of the militants killed in the October 2005 attack on Nalchik had given a visiting Russian artist with roots in Kabardino-Balkaria, Mikhail Shemyakin, a letter addressed to Vladimir Putin, asking the Russian president to return the remains of their sons.

Meanwhile, Kavkazky Uzel reported on March 9 that relatives of people killed and arrested in the October 2005 attack had written a letter to international human rights organizations on March 1 asking them “to appeal to the International Court for Human Rights about the mass violations of the rights of pious Muslims in the KBR [Kabardino-Balkaria Republic]” and “to petition for and help us in our collective departure from the country for domicile” abroad.

In an interview published by the Caucasus Times on March 3, Memorial chairman Oleg Orlov said that the “brutal persecution” of Muslims in Kabardino-Balkaria is driving them into the arms of the rebels. Orlov also said there was reason not to reject completely the “conspiracy theory” that Kabardino-Balkaria’s power structures did little or nothing to prevent the September 2005 rebel attack—even though they knew it was being planned. Orlov suggested that some within the republican power structures were seeking to undermine Arsen Kanokov, who had become president in September 2005 and had a more flexible position vis-à-vis the republic’s Islamic opposition than his predecessor, Valery Kokov.

“The hypothesis has its own internal logic,” Orlov told the Caucasus Times. “A new president of the republic arrives who is ready to change domestic policy fundamentally. Kanokov’s statements both before and after the events show that his approach to the problem of the mutual relations of the authorities and society, and the authorities and the opposition, are significantly different from that of the previous leadership. And, at the same time, there remain the old MVD and its head, Mr. [Khachim] Shogenov, who was an active supporter and the main conductor of the idea: squeeze, squeeze and squeeze with all your might. Any changes in domestic policy are disadvantageous to the siloviki; they would like to impede the dialogue with the religious opposition.”

Orlov added: “In these conditions, a situation in which there is an armed uprising in the city that is quickly and effectively put down by the Interior Ministry forces seems very attractive to them. Then it is easy to say: ‘Who can there be dialogue with? They have just tried to seize the city!’ The question of the need for a wide public discourse on various controversial and urgent problems is simply removed from the agenda.” Orlov also said that the November 2005 kidnapping of human rights activist Ruslan Nakhushev, who was promoting dialogue between the authorities and the religious opposition, looks suspicious (see Chechnya Weekly, November 10, 2005).