Publication: Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 65

Leading human rights organization have called for an international investigation into alleged human rights abuses by Russian troops in Chechnya. According to Amnesty International, men, women and children have been the victims of violence and torture in Chechnya’s prisons, and more than 1,000 people who were detained by the security forces have disappeared. Six nongovernmental human rights organizations–all of them participants in the yearly meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva–have accused the Russian authorities of not fulfilling their promise to investigate crimes committed by the Russian military against civilians in Chechnya (Radio Liberty, April 2).

Chechnya’s guerrilla war, meanwhile, continues unabated. Twenty bombs were defused yesterday, while a bomb explosion in the village of Avtura injured a young boy. The Chechen Interior Ministry reported on April 1 that an inhabitant of the Shali region had been detained on suspicion of involvement in the March 28 murder of a policeman in Avtura. Chechen rebel fighters fired on Russian troop positions thirteen times yesterday, injuring one serviceman. Law enforcement sources reported that nearly 250 kilograms of TNT were seized in Chechnya on March 30. Over the last week, the Russian military has carried out artillery and air strikes on the mountainous southeastern regions of Chechnya (Radio Liberty, April 1-2; Russian agencies, April 1).

The war in Chechnya for the last year and a half shows that the Kremlin has not, despite its statements to the contrary, been able to stabilize the situation in the republic by military means. A poll carried out by the ROMIR polling agency at the end of March found that 42.8 percent of the 2,000 respondents supported the federal authorities’ policy in Chechnya, while 46.4 percent opposed it (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, March 30). Like other recent polls, the ROMIR showed a marked drop in support for the military operation in Chechnya since the end of 1999, it was backed by an overwhelming majority of Russians backed and helped secure Vladimir Putin’s victory in the March 2000 presidential elections (see the Monitor, March 28).