Umarov Says Bodies of Chechens Tossed From Helicopters

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 17

The separatist Kavkaz-Center website, on April 23, quoted a source in the Chechen rebel command as saying that Chechen rebel leader Dokka Umarov, who is president of the separatist Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (ChRI), held a series of meetings with rebel field commanders throughout the North Caucasus in March. The source said that Umarov has also visited Kabardino-Balkaria, but provided no details about that visit.

During his meetings with the rebel commanders, Umarov said that morale in the rebel ranks was high, that they had successfully prepared for the spring and summer military campaign and that there had been a “great influx” of youth wanting to join the ranks of the “mujahideen.” Umarov said he personally met with representatives of such groups and young people in six population centers of Chechnya and that the influx of potential recruits was so large that it was impossible to cope with all of them “Therefore, we have to restrict the number of recruits,” he said during a meeting with the commanders of one of the rebels’ sectors. “We have always been working to create conditions for receiving all who want to take part in the Jihad.”

Umarov confirmed reports that Russian troops had thrown dozens of the corpses of abducted civilians from aircraft onto Chechnya’s mountains this past winter. “According to reports from various districts, this winter the Russians threw several tens of bodies from helicopters onto the mountains,” he said. “All the bodies were mutilated; traces of terrible torture were visible. It was also clear that they were starved beforehand. They tossed the bodies mainly in those places where, in their opinion, mujahideen bases could be located or those places where such bases were located earlier. This shows that the tactic of tossing bodies is to psychologically intimidate the mujahideen. They think that this will intimidate and crush people morally. They are kaffirs [unbelievers], and therefore are doing what they have typically always done. For them, this is the standard; this is the way they fight.”

Kavkaz-Center noted its earlier report that the body of a Chechen refugee kidnapped in Baku last November 9, Ruslan Eliev, was found in the woods of Samashki and bore signs of torture. According to the website, Eliev was an invalid who had lived off of the support from the UNHCR. The website claimed that the Azerbaijani special services were directly involved in the kidnapping of Eliev. Kavkaz-Center added: “The Chechen side is taking stock of all such incidents. Those responsible for the abduction of Chechen refugees in Azerbaijan and Georgia will incur punishment with no statute of limitations.”

Kavkaz-Center reported on April 20 that during his visit to one of the rebel fronts in March, Umarov confirmed that his 74-year-old father, who was kidnapped in May 2005 by the pro-Moscow Chechen government’s “oil regiment’ headed by Adam Demilkhanov, had been murdered.

Meanwhile, the separatist Chechenpress news agency on April 24 quoted ChRI Foreign Minister Akhmed Zakaev as saying that given the debate in the United Nations on the situation in Kosovo and the involvement of leading countries and international political institutions in searching for a peaceful settlement of the conflicts in the Abkhazia, South Ossetia, the Trans-Dniester region and Nagorno-Karabakh, the ChRI leadership views “the isolationist position of the U.N. and the European Union in regard to the people of the Chechen Republic to be unjust and futile” and “a policy of double standards.” Zakaev added: “The reluctance of the international community to intervene in the Russian-Chechen conflict, along with its failure to recognize the right of the Chechen people to self-determination, does not guarantee stability in Chechnya or in the whole of the Caucasus. The Chechen leadership urges the U.N. and the European Union not to regard the Chechen people outside the context of the generally recognized principles and norms of international law. The Chechen question must be seen on the same level as the other conflicts referred to above.”