Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 30

On October 8, the official Russian news agency RIA Novosti wrote that Joseph Gyorke, a representative of the administration of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, had informed a Moscow “round table” discussion that he was unaware of single case in which a Chechen IDP had been coerced into returning from Ingushetia to Chechnya. “I do not know of a single person who has been moved to Chechnya against his will,” Gyorke emphasized to the roundtable participants. His words seemed to conflict with numerous press reports that have appeared in both the Russian and Western media. Thus, to take one recent example, correspondent Steven Lee Myers wrote in the October 6 issue of the New York Times: “In July, the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights accused Russia of putting pressure on refugees by threatening them, shutting off gas and water supplies, and disrupting food deliveries. Since then, such overt tactics have stopped, but refugees and human rights advocates here [in Ingushetia] said more subtle pressure was still being exerted…. Agents of the Russian secret services have appeared in the [Aki-Yurt IDP] camp, often at night. The local prosecutor summoned two camp leaders two weeks ago and questioned them in what one of them said was an attempt to intimidate her.”