December 31st 2001 · Prague Watchdog · PRINTER FRIENDLY FORMAT · E-MAIL THIS

May 2001

Summary of main news related to the conflict in Chechnya.

May 1

A Russian Interior Ministry detachment raided Grozny’s central marketplace, beating dozens of people present in the place and shooting at local residential buildings. Three mutilated bodies of the marketplace’s staff were found in the area later on. It is not clear yet if there is a direct link between the raid and the killings.

May 2

Demostrators took to the streets of Grozny in protest against the raid on Grozny’s central marketplace on May 1. A group of women errected barricades, urging authorities to find the offenders of a three-man killing in the marketplace.

May 3

The administration of Grozny joined the protest of local inhabitants and accused Russian troops of beating Chechen civilians and killing three of them during a May Day operation in the central marketplace.

Assisting Chechen refugees and protecting their rights in Azerbaijan are the major aims of the newly-established Committee of Chechen Refugees in Azerbaijan. The committee intends to obtain a refugee status for 7,000-8,000 Chechens living in Azerbaijan now, without which the Chechens are not eligible for international humanitarian aid.

May 4

A prominent Chechnya's religious leader, Mullah Nasruddin Matuyev, was shot dead by two unidentified gunmen when he was returning home from the mosque in the village of Novye Atagi.

Head of the Federal Security Service (FSB) Nikolay Patrushev, Minister of Interior Boris Gryzlov, and Minister of Defense Sergey Ivanov held a meeting with commanders of the North Caucasus unified federal forces in Khankala, the headquarters of the Russian army in Chechnya.

The Russian President‘s special representative for human rights and freedom in Chechnya, Vladimir Kalamanov, said that seventy criminal proceedings had started against members of the federal forces in Chechnya, with twenty-two of them concerning killing of civilians in Chechnya.

May 5

FSB head Nikolai Patrushev announced that due to security reasons the Kremlin-backed Chechen government would temporarily move from Grozny back to Gudermes. The government officially moved to Grozny on April 23, after the deadline for the move was several times postponed because of security concerns.

May 7

Russian troops and police surrounded Argun, the third largest Chechen town 15 kilometres east of Grozny, after Chechen fighters attacked a Russian military column which was going to carry out a “mopping up” operation there. Heavy fighting in the town, during which Russian artillery and military helicopters were used, ended on the next day.

May 8

Representatives of the European Union delegation, having returned from the Northern Caucasus to Moscow, stated that Russian authorities do not do enough to bring normalization to the situation in Chechnya.

May 10

Vladimir Kalamanov, the Russian President‘s special representative for human rights and freedoms in Chechnya, proposed that Russian ministries and other authorities involved report on the use of funds they received for Chechnya as only one per cent of the 14.7 billions roubles allocated from the federal budget for the restoration of Chechnya’s social and economic sector has been used.

May 11

Moscow's Basmanny district court rejected a suit filed by prominent Chechen lawyer Abdulla Khamzayev against the Russian government, the Defense and Finance Ministries, and the Prosecutor General's Office to compensate him for the damage to his house in Urus Martan, which was destroyed by Russian aviation in the autumn of 1999.

Head of Chechnya’s pro-Russian administration, Akhmad Kadyrov, called for urgent measures that would boost the protection of members of the local administration, who fall victim to attacks by Chechen fighters due to their cooperation with federal authorities.

Depending on further normalization of the situation in the Northern Caucasus, the role of humanitarian agencies in Chechnya will be replaced by United Nations programs and funds of assistance in the restoration of Chechnya, said Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ordzhonikidze. -- Interfax

May 14

According to a 24-page report “Burying the Evidence: the Botched Investigation into a Mass Grave in Chechnya” released by Human Rights Watch, Russian authorities “have literally buried evidence of extra-judicial executions in Chechnya”. The report is concerned with the mass grave of 51 bodies discovered half a mile from the Russian military HQ at Khankala near Grozny in February.

The United Nations agencies will raise about 26 million dollars for the realization of their humanitarian programmes in the Northern Caucasus, says the UN’s report presented in Moscow. At the same time, the UN representatives urged the international community to participate in financing the food help programme in the region. As they claim, only 33,000 people were targeted with their help in March, which is in a deep contrast with 315,000 helped in February.

May 15

More than 10 orphanages and residence schools will be launched in the Chechen Republic this year, Chechnya Socio-Economic Recovery Minister Vladimir Yelagin announced. He disclosed that currently 1,600 orphans and over 6,000 homeless children live in Chechnya.

The commander of joint forces in Chechnya Gen Valeriy Baranov was unexpectedly replaced by the commander of the North Caucasian Military District, Gen Gennadiy Troshev. Baranov's holiday is routine and will last 45 days.

May 16

Russian President‘s aide Sergei Yastrzhembski announced that as many as 3,096 servicemen in Russia's armed forces and Interior Ministry forces and police have been killed and 9,187 wounded in Chechnya since October 1, 1999. The Defense Ministry-run forces have registered 1,889 as killed and 5,326 as wounded, while police and Interior Ministry forces have lost 1,122 as killed and 3,490 as wounded, Yastrzhembski said.

May 17

A former deputy of Chechnya‘s Minister of Interior, Movladi Raisov, was found dead with his throat cut in the river Alazani, Pankinski Gorge, Georgia.

The number of officially registered unaccounted-for people in Chechnya is 930, said Nikolai Britvin, the deputy of Russian president‘s plenipotentiary representative in southern federal region.

Beslan Gantamirov resigned as mayor of the Chechen capital of Grozny, saying it is no longer possible for him to hold the post. The decision comes after the finding that Gantamirov‘s position is not the result of an appointment procedure asserted in one of Russian President‘s decrees.

May 18

Federal forces carried out a special operation at the State University of Grozny, following a reported increase in the number of criminal offenses committed at the university. Subsequently, students and teachers held a rally against the detention of their colleagues during the operation.

May 21

The UN World Food Programme announced that in a week they would resume food supplies to Chechen refugees living in camps and recognised spontaneous settlements in Ingushetia after federal authorities, which were charged with supplying food to these places as of early May, failed to do so.

The healthcare system in Grozny has been partially restored, with almost 800 doctors working in Grozny’s eight operational hospitals and 16 clinics, said Boris Gribenyuk, first deputy director of Zaschita (Protection), the All-Russian Centre of Emergency Medicine under the Russian Ministry of Healthcare and the Ministry of Emergencies. Throughout the republic, more than 1,730 medical doctors work in 305 medical institutions.

May 23

Chechen politician Abdullah Bugayev, who used to work as a federal inspector in the Southern Federal District, was appointed Vice-Premier in the pro-Russian Chechen government in charge of liasing with the Russian military and law enforcement bodies in Chechnya. -- Interfax

May 24

A two-day meeting of the special working group of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and the State Duma of the Russian Federation, which was established after PACE’s part-session in January 2001, started on the premises of the Senate of the Czech Republic in Prague, with a discussion about the launch of tackling the conflict in Chechnya by political means on the agenda.

Vladimir Kalamanov, the Russian President's special envoy for human rights in Chechnya, said at present his office lists 616 applications concerning unlawful actions of Russian servicemen with regard to the Chechen population. Criminal cases have been launched on all these facts and twenty-three cases have already been considered in court and sentences passed, Kalamanov said.

Dik Altemirov, former Minister of the government of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria who in 1996-97 cooperated with the OSCE mission led by T.Guldiman, was detained in Grozny by Russian forces on alleged accusation of connection to guerilla fighters. Dik Altemirov currently works for various human rights organizations, mainly the Human Rights Center Memorial.

May 25

The Council of Europe (CE) could assist Russia to design Chechnya's new constitution, said CE Secretary General Walter Schwimmer during his visit to Moscow on the occassion of the 5th anniversary of Russia's entry in CE.

May 26

Russian Interior Ministry's authority for the fight with organised crime arrested Khazmat Idrisov, who since spring 2001 has been working as Vice-Premier in charge of Chechnya's building sector in the pro-Moscow Chechen government, on suspicion of embezzling state funds in the period of the first Chechen President Djokhar Dudayev and his successor Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev. Idrisov was installed by Chechnya's pro-Russian administration head Akhmad Kadyrov but the installation had not been approved yet by the head of the Southern Federal District, Viktor Kazantsev.

May 28

The President of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, Aslan Maskhadov, said in an interview with Anna Politkovskaya from Novaya Gazeta that eventual peace talks with Russia were inevitable but there was no one yet in Moscow willing to hold them. He added that he was ready for talks with no preconditions, which would determine mutual relations between Russia and Chechnya.

May 29

Russian presidential aide Sergei Yastrzhembski announced that 3,096 federal servicemen have been killed in Chechnya since the beginning of the current campaign. This number is in contrast with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov’s announcement on May 28 according to which the Center for Registration of Servicemen lists 2,682 killed soldiers since August 1999 (including 2,026 Defense Ministry servicemen). "This center has no information about the losses of other defense and security agencies taking part in the operation," the office of the presidential aide reacted.

May 30

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has temporarily suspended its activities and movements in Chechnya. The decision comes after an incident in which a ICRC local employee was wounded at a Russian federal checkpoint in Grozny.

Amnesty International presented a report stating that “Russian federal forces are responsible for gross violations of human rights in the Chechen Republic,” while the investigations of these violations are conducted on a “very narrow scale”.

May 31

A majority of Danish MPs urged the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Denmark to take necessary steps to file a suit against Russia with the European Court for Human Rights.

Chechen refugees currently living in Ingushetia must return to Chechnya by the end of June if they want to receive government food supplies, officials from the pro-Russian Chechen government said.

Deputy director of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and the head of military operations in Chechnya, German Ugryumov, died of a heart attack in the Khankala military base.

The chairman of the International affairs committee of the Russian Duma, Dmitry Rogozin, proposed a referendum in Chechnya on the constitutional system and status of the republic.

Compiled by Prague Watchdog


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