Month in Brief - February 2005

February 2

Pro-Chechen radical website Kavkaz-Center announced that as a gesture of goodwill Chechen resistance leader Aslan Maskhadov had ordered resistance forces to suspend "all offensive military actions" in February and that Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev joined him by ordering his forces to suspend such operations until February 22.

February 3

Chechen Moscow-backed officials brushed off resistance leader Aslan Maskhadov's offer for a ceasefire in February as a "bluff". The Kremlin did not comment on it.

Britain's Channel 4 News broadcast excerpts from a video-taped interview with Shamil Basayev in which the Chechen warlord, without mentioning his commando's abuses, blamed the Russian special forces for the bloody outcome of the Beslan school hostage-taking crisis in September 2004. He also pledged to carry out more Beslan-type operations in the future, saying "in order to stop the genocide [in Chechnya] we will stop at nothing."

February 5

Elections to the two-chamber Chechen parliament might be held in October 2005, announced Alu Alkhanov, the Kremlin-backed leader of the Chechen Republic.

February 7

Chechen resistance leader and Ichkerian President Aslan Maskhadov confirmed, via Russian daily Kommersant and radical pro-Chechen website Kavkaz-Center, that in mid-January he did order the resistance to suspend "all offensive military actions" in February as a gesture of goodwill.

The number of people who have disappeared as a result of abduction over the five years of Russia's "counter-terrorist operation" in Chechnya ranges from 3,000 to 5,000 persons, stated Russian human rights organization Memorial, which arrived at the figure by extrapolating own statistics and analyzing official statistics.

February 8

Radical pro-Chechen website Kavkaz-Center published Shamil Basayev's video statement dated February 6 on which the radical Chechen guerrilla leader refutes Russian claims of his illness and death and confirms that his forces joined Aslan Maskhadov's cease-fire order.

February 9

Russian human rights news agency "Za prava cheloveka" published an open letter from a group of prominent Russian human rights defenders and public figures addressed to Russian President Vladimir Putin in which they ask him to start talks with the moderate wing of the Chechen resistance in order to resolve the crisis in Chechnya by political means.

February 10

Having considered an appeal lodged by the Ingushetian Prosecutor's Office against the Nazran District Court's verdict of October 25, 2004, Ingushetia's Supreme Court ruled that material published by the Chechen National Salvation Committee (ChKNS), a Nazran-based Chechen human rights NGO, is extremist.

February 11

Russian special forces killed a local guerrilla, whom they surrounded in a house in Nazran, Ingushetia. The 23-year-old man, Mikhail Kurskiyev, allegedly took part in the June 2004 coordinated attacks on the republic's Interior Ministry forces.

Chechen Moscow-backed leader Alu Alkhanov and Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov agreed that military command posts, which exist in all districts of Chechnya, would be dissolved by the end of 2005, reported the Society of the Russian-Chechen Friendship.

February 12

Makhmut Magomadov, the human rights lawyer with the International Helsinki Federation, who disappeared in Grozny on January 20, returned home. Human rights defenders think that he was abducted and then forced to claim that he was "detained by mistake and held only for a short period of time."

February 13

Ramzan Kadyrov, the self-styled Vice-Premier of the Chechen Republic, announced his intention to file a lawsuit against human rights defenders who accuse him of being involved in abductions and summary executions in Chechnya. He also denied the allegation that his forces detained Vakha Arsanov, former guerrilla leader and Vice-President of the independent Chechen Republic of Ichkeria.

Representatives of Councils of TACs (temporary accommodation centers) of displaced persons in the Chechen Republic met in Grozny and formed the United Council of Displaced Persons, with Shirvani Gunayev becoming its head, according to a report of the Council of Non-governmental Organizations (SNO).

February 16

Over a thousand people were kidnapped in Chechnya last year, and most of the massive human rights abuses in the republic are committed by forces under command of the Kremlin-backed Chechen Vice-Premier Ramzan Kadyrov and by federal forces, Human Rights Watch stated at a news conference in Moscow.

February 17

The Chechen government will build a memorial to the assassinated Kremlin-backed Chechen leader Akhmad Kadyrov in central Grozny, announced Premier Sergei Abramov.

February 18

The Kremlin-backed Chechen leader Alu Alkhanov confirmed that eight relatives of Chechen resistance leader Aslan Maskhadov had been abducted in December, adding that the case is being investigated.

In Grozny's Oktyabrsky district, the Moscow-backed Chechen Interior Ministry forces killed Yunadi Turchayev, the alleged head of the guerrilla group operating in the Chechen capital.

February 20

Three guerillas were killed during a two-day operation by security forces in an apartment building in Nalchik, Kabardino-Balkaria. Five other suspected guerrillas were detained.

February 21

Nine Russian soldiers were killed in the village of Prigorodnoye on the outskirts of Grozny when a poultry farm building partly collapsed. While official sources attributed the incident to a battle with Chechen guerrillas, Russian newspaper Novaya gazeta wrote in its March 3 issue that some of the soldiers were drunk and one of them fired a grenade launcher inside the building.

Russian President Vladimir Putin urged Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev to "be tougher" with the guerrillas operating in the Northern Caucasus.

February 22

Russian daily Kommersant received an official warning dated February 9 for having published an interview with Chechen resistance leader Aslan Maskhadov on February 7.

February 23

Commemoration and anti-war protest events marking the 61st anniversary of the Stalin-era deportation of the Chechen and Ingush nations took place in Russia and Europe.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) specified that its ad hoc sub-committee chaired by Andreas Gross (Switzerland) and co-chaired by Konstantin Kosachev (Russia) would organize its meeting entitled "Round Table" on the Chechen crisis on March 21 in Strasbourg, with about 50 invitees from Russia and Chechnya taking part.

February 24

The European Court of Human Rights announced its earlier ruling that during its Chechen campaign Russia seriously violated human rights of local civilians, including the right to life, and has to pay damages to the six complainants-relatives of the killed Chechens.

Moscow-backed Chechen forces, supported by Russian military helicopters, started a large-scale operation in Chechnya's southeastern mountainous district of Nozhai-Yurt, in what Russian sources described as an effort to crush a group of dozens of Chechen guerrillas led by Akhmed Avdorkhanov, head of security guards of Chechen resistance leader and Ichkerian President Aslan Maskhadov.

February 24-25

Representatives of the Russian Union of Committees of Soldiers' Mothers met in London with Akhmed Zakayev, an envoy of Chechen resistance leader Aslan Maskhadov. During their talks on the resolution of the Chechen conflict they signed a memorandum envisaging a road to peace in Chechnya.

February 28

Alu Alkhanov, the Kremlin-backed Chechen leader expressed his disapproval of the Council of Europe's plan to organize its "Round Table" in Strasbourg, maintaining that the meeting slated for March 21 should take place in Russia.

The Russian Tax Inspectorate plans to carry out an inspection at the Union of Committees of Soldiers Mothers of Russia (SKSMR), announced SKSMR chairwoman Valentina Melnikova, attributing it to the human rights organization's efforts to resolve the conflict in Chechnya by talks with Chechen resistance leaders.

Danish television channel DR-1 broadcast an interview with Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev, which was accompanied by comments by Danish politicians and analysts. The Russian Foreign Ministry accused Denmark of "providing moral support to terrorists."

Compiled by Prague Watchdog. Along with these monthly summaries, we publish also weekly summaries, distributing them on Mondays within our weekly newsletter.



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