THREE CHECHEN OFFICIALS QUIT AFTER COLLEAGUE IS MURDERED.

Publication: Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 110

The body of Lem Idrisov, head of the administration of the village of Gekhi-Chu, was discovered on the evening of June 5 near a burned-out Volga automobile. According to police, Idrisov was the victim of a rocket-propelled grenade attack. Following Idrisov’s murder, three local administration chiefs in the Groznensk region resigned in protest, citing an absence of even minimal guarantees for their personal safety. One of the resigning administration heads, Shakhid Dzhamaladayev, said that three local administrators and five police officers had been killed recently without a single suspect being arrested, and that seventeen officials in the pro-Moscow Chechen administration had been killed since the beginning of the year (Agence France Presse, Russian agencies, June 6).

All of this is further evidence that the rebels are methodically destroying those officials who cooperate with the federal forces, which has the effect of demoralizing those Chechens who agree to observe federal law and who do not support the republic’s independence. Correspondingly, the number of people who are loyal to the separatist fighters is rising. The Russian army does not have special antiguerrilla units, and units that are formally tasked with counterinsurgency operations have not adapted to them. The clumsy actions of the Russian military have only made the situation worse. “A paradoxical situation has developed. The massive presence of federal power structures in Chechnya is a factor which is feeding a negative attitude toward [that presence] on the part of the local population and pushing [the local population] toward the rebels,” said State Duma Deputy Aleksei Arbatov, who was recently wounded in the conflict zone. “But if the federal troops are now withdrawn, that could turn into a catastrophe.” Arbatov said that Russian troops in Chechnya “quite often” behave brutally toward local inhabitants, which has resulted in “a large number of victims among the local population” (Vesti.ru, June 6).

Meanwhile, a group of Chechen refugees and representatives of the Chechen diaspora have sent an appeal of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) calling on the international community and international organization to push for a political solution to the conflict in the republic. The appeal, which was signed by 10,000 Chechen refugees located in neighboring Ingushetia, charges that Russian forces in Chechnya have carried out mass shootings of civilians, engaged in marauding and tortured detainees. “Chechnya has turned into a concentration camp and a zone of death,” the letter reads. The letter’s authors demanded that independent journalists and observers be allowed into Chechnya (Radio Liberty, June 6).

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