Summary of the main news related to the conflict in Chechnya. Compiled by Prague Watchdog.
Monday, February 24
Chechen field commander Shamil Basayev claimed responsibility for a bomb attack on the building of the Moscow-backed Chechen government in Grozny in late December 2002, according to a letter and photographs made available allegedly by him to news agency Kavkaz-center.
Representatives of some two dozen Chechen civic and human rights organizations condemned the Chechen constitutional referendum scheduled for March 23, criticising irregularities and law violations before the vote. They also stated that under the current conditions in Chechnya the referendum cannot be held.
Tuesday, February 25
The Chechen authorities reported 537,000 eligible voters in Chechnya as of January 1, head of Russia’s Central Electoral Commission Alexandr Veshnyakov told the Ekho Moskvy radio station.
Speaking at a session of the Russian Security Council, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the number of checkpoints and roadblocks in Chechnya needs to be reduced because their efficiency is low.
The press service of Russian President announced that Vladimir Putin appointed Colonel General Gennady Troshev, who was the commander of the North Caucasus military district until December 2002, to the post of his adviser in charge of coordinating activities of the Russian presidential envoys in the federal districts involved in supervising the Cossack societies.
Only the residents of Chechnya will be allowed to take part in the Chechen constitutional referendum scheduled for March 23, head of the Moscow-backed Chechen administration Akhmad Kadyrov said.
Wednesday, February 26
The Council of Europe and OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) sent a joint needs assessment mission to Moscow and Chechnya in connection with the referendum on the Chechen constitution scheduled for March 23. The mission was working till March 4.
The military command and civilian leadership of Chechnya decided to remove check-points inside Grozny and establish 12 check-points on the perimeter of the Chechen capital instead, the Military Commandant of Chechnya, Lieutenant General Yevgeniy Abrashin announced.
Akhyad Idigov, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Parliament of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria elected in 1997 and former chairman of the Parliament elected in 1993, condemned the Chechen constitutional referendum scheduled by the Kremlin for March 23. The referendum will solve neither the problems between Russia and Chechnya, nor the current conflict, Idigov said in a statement published by Chechen news agency Chechenpress on February 27.
Thursday, February 27
No major events.
Friday, February 28
The Federal Register published a notice by the US State Department of February 14 according to which three Chechen groups were added to the US list of terrorist organizations. The Riyadus-Salikhin Reconnaissance and Sabotage Battalion of Chechen Martyrs, The Special Purpose Islamic Regiment, and the Islamic International Brigade "have committed, or pose a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States," the notice read.
The military panel of judges of Russia's Supreme Court sent the case of Russian Colonel Yuri Budanov, whom the North Caucasus Military District's court on December 31, 2002 declared temporarily insane when he killed 18-year-old Chechen woman Elza Kungayeva, for a new hearing.
Saturday, March 1
No major events.
Sunday, March 2
Five dozen representatives of Chechen organizations asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to postpone the Chechen constitutional referendum scheduled for March 23.
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