June 23rd 2009 · Prague Watchdog / Vadim Borshchev · PRINTER FRIENDLY FORMAT · E-MAIL THIS · ALSO AVAILABLE IN: RUSSIAN 

Your son is a criminal! (weekly review)

Your son is a criminal! (weekly review)

By Vadim Borshchev, special to Prague Watchdog

The Chechen authorities long ago turned the families of the mujahedin into the object of public humiliation, apparently in the belief that by one means or another they could make their enemy experience the bitterness and shame of parenthood. On Monday June 15, Grozny’s Mayor Muslim Khuchiyev once again called together an assembly of women whose sons are members of those disparate groups that hide in the mountains and according to Ramzan Kadyrov comprise no more than 70 individuals. As a report of this “meeting” was shown on Chechen television, the audience had an opportunity to estimate just how many mujahedin are today leaving Grozny and the surrounding villages to fight under the leadership of Dokka Umarov.

There were about 40 people in the room, which would seem to imply that at least half of the Caucasus Emirate’s armed forces hail from Groznensky district. This, however, clashes with the fact that the majority of the young men who choose the path of jihad are residents of villages in the republic’s foothills and mountains. As the women’s exact place of residence of women was not indicated, it is possible that they were brought in from far away, but that is unlikely. The transportation of people is a costly and troublesome business. And judging by the circumstance that when referring to parental responsibility in his address the city’s mayor listed urban districts – Staropromyslovsky, Leninsky, etc. – he clearly had Grozny residents in mind.

This is not the first such TV show that Muslim Khuchiyev has taken part in. Last summer he threatened the parents that each of them would feel “on their skin” the evil that their children had brought to them. Even if Kadyrov does not regard it as such, Khuchiyev, a man with higher education, is well aware that hostage-taking is not merely an infringement of the law, but is actually a crime. At the last meeting, the New York Times reported that he told his audience: “We are not now holding dialogue with you on the basis of the laws of this state. We will act according to Chechen traditions.” Nevertheless, during all this time the constant threats against families, the burning of homes, and indeed the whole range of measures employed by the Chechen authorities have never once led to the initiation of criminal proceedings. In Chechnya the use of punitive methods which are not prescribed by any law became standard long before Kadyrov with the federal centre’s blessing and even on its direct orders. The best example of this open approval of extrajudicial killings is Putin’s famous call to “flush them [the insurgents] down the john”.

This time Muslim Khuchiyev managed to split the “guilty” parents into separate groups, each of which will be subjected to “targeted coercion” if necessary. It is now planned to punish the residents of precisely those areas which are the object of attacks by the mujahedin. Here Khuchiyev listed several districts of the city. In addition, the mayor did not forget to refer to Ramzan Kadyrov in almost every sentence. He reminded the parents that henceforth there would be no amnesty for the shaytans [“Satans”], who were going to be completely annihilated.

The women wept and swore that they did not know where their sons were. One mother, whose two sons were in the hills, said for a long time now she had been visiting the shops in the mountain villages, trying to get a message to her children asking them to come home, but to no avail.

From the speech by Chechen deputy interior minister Ali Tagirov it became clear what the authorities proposes to offer those who repent in place of the amnesty which has now been withdrawn. Tagirov said that all of Chechnya’s people support Ramzan Kadyrov, and so he doesn’t need the few criminals who are still hiding from just retribution. They are needed only by their parents. For them there is now only one path open: surrender, arrest, a prison sentence and finally a return beneath their parents’ roof.

The precise nature of the threat of punishment that hangs over the parents is not yet entirely clear. There are several possible options. About three weeks ago Chechen television viewers were able to watch a monstrous report in which a senior Chechen interior ministry official nicknamed “Lord” (a former associate of Basayev) brought to a father in the courtyard of his home the corpse of his murdered son. He told the old man, who was leaning on a stick could barely stay upright over the dead body: “You said that you couldn’t solve the problem, so we have solved it for you.” This mockery of the family ties that are sacred to every Chechen arouses horror and renders people powerless. Such forgetting not only of Chechen traditions but also the norms of human morality, is becoming an instrument in the government’s hands. It is possible that the aim of the Chechen Tonton Macoute is precisely to inspire this fear of inexplicable, barbaric cruelty by Kadyrov’s servants.

A second point is the shame and humiliation to which the parents are maliciously subjected, apparently in the hope that some of their pain will also reach their sons.

And the third point: Ramzan Kadyrov has already said on several occasions that the during military operations the insurgents’ family members will be made to walk ahead of the front line of Chechen police as living shields. Although this is unlikely to happen, no one really knows what the Chechen leader will do next. However, the nightmarish scene created by Kadyrov’s fertile imagination, in which children are forced to kill their own parents, must of itself be some indication of a serious intent on the part of a leader who heads one of the regions of Russia.


(Translation by DM)




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