SOME CHECHENS DOUBT AMNESTY’S EFFICACY
Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 7 Issue: 32
A series of explosions in Chechnya on August 6 partially destroyed six cell phone relay stations. On August 7, RIA Novosti quoted sources in Chechnya’s Interior Ministry as saying that bombs had simultaneously exploded at five relay stations that belonged to the Russian mobile phone operator MegaFon early on August 6, and that one more retransmitting facility was hit by a blast that evening. Interfax reported on August 7 that the blasts took place in the Grozny district villages of Raduzhnoye and Kerla-Yurt, the Staropromyslovsky district, the Leninsky district and on Minutka Square in Grozny’s Oktyabrsky district. According to the news agency, four of the bombs used in the explosions are estimated to have contained the equivalent of 300 grams of TNT, while the two other explosive devices contained the equivalent of 600 to 800 grams of TNT. Interfax quoted an unnamed spokesman for the Chechen prosecutor’s office as saying that the bombed facilities belonged to cellular operator Mobicom-Kavkaz and that a man suspected of staging one of the explosions was killed and another was injured in one of the blasts. The injured suspected perpetrator was reportedly detained.
Separately, a serviceman of the federal Interior Ministry’s Internal Troops was wounded in Chechnya’s Vedeno district, Itar-Tass reported on August 9. The news agency quoted a Chechen law-enforcement official as saying that the soldier was wounded when a group of servicemen on an engineering reconnaissance mission came under automatic weapons fire from unidentified persons on a highway near the village of Dyshne-Vedeno. The wounded Interior Ministry soldier, who was a contract serviceman, was hospitalized.
Meanwhile, Russian news agencies on August 8 quoted Chechen President Alu Alkhanov as saying that 84 rebels had accepted the federal authorities’ offer of amnesty since it was announced in July. The Prague Watchdog website (Watchdog.cz), however, quoted Chechens as expressing little faith in the amnesty. “As far as I know, there have been repeated amnesties for guerrillas, seven of them, I think,” Dukvakha Salamov, a 46-year-old Grozny resident, told the website. “They were declared both in the ‘first war’ and in the present one. But what really happened? Dozens, even hundreds of men who believed the authorities and gave themselves up were abducted, killed or went missing without a trace. After the end of the first war (1994-1996) the Russian State Duma declared a general amnesty for those who had taken part in military actions on either side of the conflict. But when the ‘counter-terrorist operation’ began, the actual result was that the amnestied men were arrested and sent to ‘filtration camps,’ with many being sentenced to long terms of imprisonment.”
Prague Watchdog quoted an unnamed human rights activist as saying that the death of Chechen rebel warlord Shamil Basaev, like the deaths of rebel leaders Abdul-Khalim Sadulaev, Aslan Maskhadov and Djokhar Dudaev, would not lead to an end to the war in Chechnya, and that amnesties would not change anything. “What’s needed is a real political dialogue with the armed opposition, not threats and ultimatums,” the activist was quoted as saying. “If the opposition doesn’t exist (and that’s what Moscow claims, at any rate), then why declare an amnesty for them and call on them to lay down their weapons?”