Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 4 Issue: 27


Systematic violations of human rights in Chechnya will lead to similar violations across the length and breadth of Russia, human rights activist Lyudmila Alekseeva predicted in an interview with the radio station Ekho Moskvy. The head of the Moscow Helsinki Group said that as units of the army, police and Federal Security Service (FSB) rotate out of Chechnya, “they will bring these customs [such as kidnappings, assaults and pillage by government forces] back to their home regions. We will have the rule of arbitrary power in every region as long as it continues without penalty in Chechnya.”

According to Alekseeva, human rights researchers who recently visited Chechnya found that the “zachistki” security sweeps, which had diminished earlier this year, are now being revived. “Just before the [March] referendum they were halted for a brief period,” she said. “People hoped that they would stop altogether, but after the referendum the ‘zachistki’ were renewed.”

The Vienna-based International Helsinki Federation has leveled similar charges, calling the current situation in Chechnya “a permanent state of terror.” Its five-member team, recently returned from the republic, noted an increase in kidnappings of women in particular.

In her Ekho Moskvy interview, Alekseeva predicted that “the ‘zachistki’ will stop for political reasons during the last two weeks before the October 5 Chechen presidential elections, but afterward they will begin again if the authorities behave according to the same logic as they do now.”