Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 22

In the July 15 (no. 50) issue of Novaya Gazeta, award-winning Russian war correspondent Anna Politkovskaya profiled Malika Umazheva, the pro-Moscow chief of administration of the Chechen settlement of Alkhan-Kala who had been elected to that post in July of 2001 by the residents of the village. Because of her desire in deeds to assist the 20,000 residents of Alkhan-Kala, Umazheva had fallen afoul of the pro-Moscow leadership of the republic both in the district center of Tolstoi-Yurt and in Grozny. “It has been several months since an order was given not to admit Malika into the government complex in Grozny…. The government, which is living for a third year surrounded by tanks, does not like conversations about tractors or building materials. Or about medicines or textbooks [for children].”

The final straw as far as the Russian forces operating in Chechnya were concerned, Politkovskaya related, was Umazheva’s flat refusal to sign a statement that she, in her capacity of village head of administration, had “no claims” to make against the soldiers who had conducted a cleansing operation during which murders had been committed and looting had been widespread. “At the end of April of this year, after the nth ‘cleansing operation’ had been completed, she looked directly into the eyes of General Igor Bronitsky (he has been directing all the ‘cleansing operations’ in recent months) and simply said, ‘No!'” A procurator attached to the North Caucasus Military Procuracy, Aleksandr Ferlevsky, then intervened and supported the general. “There have been no violations of human rights,” he declared. This after villagers had been executed at filtration points. “Malika not only said ‘No’ to the general, she then shouted at Ferlevsky, ‘You are a scoundrel, Ferlevsky!'” After this Umazheva found herself being verbally attacked over state television by General Anatoly Kvashnin, chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, who claimed that us$600,000 worth of diamonds had been found at her house.

Recently, Politkovskaya concluded her account, the federal forces murdered Umazheva’s brother. “First they tortured him with electric shock treatment,” Umazheva recalled, “and then they brought him back all swollen…. The next day they came back to our house in armored vehicles and executed Il’yas. He was so weak after the torture that he couldn’t raise himself…. They placed an automatic weapon next to his dead body and photographed him.” Such is the fate of one pro-Moscow head of administration in Chechnya today.