Summary of main news related to the conflict in Chechnya.
Chechen prosecution, upon the decision of Russian military prosecution service, began an inquiry into alleged excesses by Russian forces during recent “mopping up” operations in the Chechen villages of Assinovskaya and Sernovodsk.
The first number of the “Novosti respubliky” (The Republic’s News) newspaper was published in the Chechen capital Grozny.
Representatives of the Human Rights Centre Memorial and the Moscow office of the Human Rights Watch held in Moscow a joint news conference on the investigation of crimes against inhabitants in the Chechen Republic committed by the federal forces.
The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) issued a public statement condemning Russian authorities’ inability to co-operate with the committee and to uncover and prosecute those responsible for human rights abuses.
At least 800 residents of the villages Assinovskaya and Sernovodsk left their homes for Ingushetia. - BBC
A Saudi Arabian-born Chechen field commander known as Abu-Umar was killed by Russian forces in the village of Mairtup in Shali region.
General Vladimir Moltenskoi, Russia's top military commander in Chechnya, said troops that the recently conducted “mopping up” operations in several Chechen villages were accompanied by “large-scale crimes” and “lawless acts”.
Chechen representative in the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, Aslambek Aslakhanov, repeated his threats that he will resign if Russian troops do not improve their treatment of Chechen civilians.
The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly President, Lord Russell-Johnston stated that there has been “mounting evidence of rapidly deteriorating human rights in Chechnya” during the recent “mopping up” operations. He also urged European and world leaders with close ties to the Russian President Putin to use their influence to deliver an effective pressure on the Russian authorities to change their conduct.
Chechnya’s chief prosecutor, Viktor Dakhnov, admitted that the recent “mopping up” operations in Chechen villages were accompanied by human rights violations. He said his investigators found out that Russian soldiers had beaten 10 civilians and ransacked a number of homes.
Some 50 billion roubles are expected to be allocated for Chechnya restoration in the period of 2002-2003, said Valentin Nikitin, head of the Committee for Nationalities in the Russian State Duma.
Over 60 people continue to hunger strike in refugee camps in Ingushetia. About 20 hunger-strikers, including 6 children under 15, have already had to be hospitalized due to their critical condition. - Interfax
Ingush President Ruslan Aushev has accused the Russian military of destroying historical architectural monuments in Ingushetia.
Grozny‘s newly-appointed Mayor, Oleg Zhidkov, took up his office, replacing Beslan Gantamirov, who resigned on May 17, 2001. Zhidkov, 45, is an ethnic Russian who speaks fluent Chechen after spending more than two decades in Grozny. In the past Zhidkov worked for the Soviet KGB intelligence service.
Attorney General of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Ustinov, appointed Vsevolod Chernov Attorney General of the Chechen Republic. After nearly four months of work at south Russian federal body, Chernov returned to his former post, replacing Viktor Dakhnov. According to Prague Watchdog‘s files, Dakhnov officially started his half-yearly term of office as Chechnya's Attorney General within the federal judicial system on April 9, 2001.
The Consulting Council, which was set up at the office of the head of the pro-Russian administration of Chechnya, met for its constituent meeting in Grozny. The composition of the Council has still to be approved but its members are to be „prominent Chechen politicians, scientists, [and] religious leaders able to consolidate the Chechen society,“ Russian news agencies informed, referring to the press service of the pro-Russian Chechen government.
A special regime was imposed on the movement of journalists outside Khankala, the main military base of the North Caucasian federal forces. Journalists are now allowed out only if accompanied by a press-centre‘s officer.
During a meeting with the head of Chechnya’s pro-Russian administration Akhmad Kadyrov in Kremlin, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on the division of property in Chechnya between the federal and republican authorities. Now the Chechen government will be the sole client for the reconstruction and restoration of schools, hospitals and other public buildings in Chechnya, for which it was allocated $400 million. – The Moscow Times
The Ingushetian police warned the organisers of the Grozny-Moscow peace march, which was to start on August 1 but for organisational reasons was - on July 29 - postponed for some two weeks, that the action had not been sanctioned by the local authorities ten days before its launch as required by the law. In the meantime, a crushing majority of Chechen hunger strikers in Ingushetian refugee camps have ended their voluntary starvation, planning to join the march.
About 200 people held a meeting in front of the Russian embassy in Warsaw, Poland, in protest against the continuing war in Chechnya. Members of various civil society organisations, political parties as well as the Polish Parliament took part in the meeting. Ninety-six Polish deputies signed an appeal to the Russian government to end the war and launch talks with Aslan Maskhadov. – Chechen sources, referring to the organisers of the meeting
A bus with 41 people aboard, heading from Nevinnomyssk to Stavropol in southern Russia, was hijacked by masked gunmen demanding the release of five Chechens jailed for terrorism. In the evening, a Russian anti-terrorist squad stormed the bus, freeing the passengers and killing one of the hijackers. None of the hostages was killed.
Compiled by Prague Watchdog