Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 20

What conditions await the returning IDPs in Chechnya? Reporting on a recent visit to the Chechen capital, correspondent Jens Hartmann of Die Welt wrote: “The [pro-Moscow] Chechen government is separated from its people by barbed wire, tank emplacements, and concrete walls…. The head of government, by the mercy of Putin, Stanislav Il’yasov, chirps on in his office concerning successes, which can be relegated most likely to the sphere of wishful thinking. ‘There are 100,000 jobs, 300,000 returned refugees, we are restoring the country, we are finding support,’ he says without catching a breath. The refugees? ‘They can return this very minute,’ he says, ‘Everything has been prepared.’ In the next office, however, his deputy, a Chechen woman, Amnat Batysheva, paints a different picture. ‘In general,’ she says, ‘the restoration is not moving forward. There is no money to restore the hospitals or the schools. The roofs [of the schools] are deteriorating while children sit on concrete floors. The construction of apartment buildings is not being accomplished.’ And the money allocated for restoration is disappearing. What about the refugees [in Ingushetia]? ‘The basic conditions for their return are absent.'” The one place, Hartmann underscored, where construction work is being actively conducted is at Russian military bases in the republic: “The Russian armed forces, whose number in Chechnya comprises 87,000, are organizing themselves for a long stay. At the ‘Severny’ base and at Khankala, where the Group’s headquarters are located, there is taking place the building of barracks, schools and kindergartens” (Posted in Russian translation by, July 3).