Russian Security Agency Reportedly Targeting Widows

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 5 Issue: 15

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB; the renamed KGB) appears now to be using a new, stunningly self-defeating tactic to try to forestall possible terrorist attacks: kidnapping widows of Chechen men already killed by those same agencies. A handful of such widows have become suicide bombers, and the FSB is now seizing women for no reason other than that they are widows and therefore might, in theory, become terrorists in the future. According to an April 8 article by Julius Strauss of the London Daily Telegraph, the Russian human rights center Memorial has reported ten such kidnappings in January alone.

One was 21-year-old Milana Ozdoeva, whose husband had died last November in Ingushetia–allegedly at the hands of FSB torturers. Milana, still breast feeding her infant son, returned to her family home in the village of Katyr Yurt in western Chechnya. “She had barely got there,” wrote Strauss, “when FSB officers arrived to question her. ‘They said she wanted to be a suicide bomber,’ said her mother. ‘She told them that was nonsense–that she was the mother of two small children; that she wanted to live.’ The security men returned a second time, this time claiming that someone had traveled to Russia on the young widow’s passport. She denied it. Ten days later, she was kidnapped.”

Milan’s mother, Lyubov Dubas, told Strauss that the kidnappers “were wearing masks and camouflage. They forced us all to the floor at gunpoint. Milana was too terrified to speak. She just looked at me and mouthed the word ‘mama’. It was the last time any of us saw her.”

Lyubov said that she knew the abductors were from the FSB “because I had seen them at the local administration where I work. I went to the FSB base to ask about her, but the commander said he knew nothing.”

The FSB’s new tactic of course ignores the reality that widows are not the only relatives of Chechen males who have died at the Russians’ hands, and that the widows themselves have relatives–all of whom now have yet one more reason to become terrorists themselves. Thus does Chechnya’s downward spiral of revenge and counter-revenge continue.