Compensation business a gravy train for crooks in Chechnya
Timur Aliyev, North Caucasus - Residents of Chechnya say that crooks are getting rich on compensations paid to people for their destroyed homes.
Zura Bashirova left Grozny in 1999 and thereafter lived mainly with her son in Moscow. When compensation payments began to be paid out to Chechen residents, Zura also submitted her documents in order to receive her share.
In 2000, her house in Grozny’s Oktyabrsky district was destroyed by an artillery shell, but she only found out about it six months later. “My neighbor was in Moscow and phoned to tell me that my house no longer existed.”
This neighbor was also the reason for Zura’s return to Grozny in 2004. “She called and said, ‘Why are you sitting in Moscow? Everyone has already received money for their houses.’ It’s not much, but it’s still money so I made up my mind to return,” she said.
The amount of compensation to be paid out for the destruction of one's house and belongings was determined in 2002 at 350,000 rubles.
But when Zura applied to the district administration for her money, it turned out that somebody else had already received it. “They told me they couldn’t accept my documents. They said all the paperwork was in order; their lists showed that compensation had been granted; and the money paid and duly received.”
Rates for receiving compensation in Chechnya are clearly assigned. In the case of a totally destroyed home, 30% of the money is paid for promptly processing a claim; 50% if the house is still standing, or if less than 80 percent of it was destroyed.
According to people who have already gone through all this, percentages and payments are not paid directly to the officials in charge of the compensation cases, but to middlemen.
“For such people, it’s easy to forge documents for a house that no one has immediately claimed compensation for and then proceed to process the case through some official they know,” sighs Zura.
Zura is preparing to take her case to court even though she knows preparing the necessary documents will prove to be difficult. “It’s impossible to get any documents from the bureaucrats confirming that the money for my house was given to crooks. And who knows, perhaps even the administration gets a kickback from cases like mine,” she stated.
Representatives of many human rights organizations in Chechnya say Zura’s is not an isolated case. “At least five people in similar situations turned to us for help in the past few months,” the Council of Non-governmental Organizations told Prague Watchdog.