Mass grave discovered in Grozny contains bodies of guerrillas and civilians
By Umalt Chadayev
CHECHNYA - In early April it was reported that a mass grave had been discovered in the grounds of Kirov Park, in Grozny’s Leninsky district. The remains of a total of 57 people have been extracted from the place.
According to representatives of the law enforcement agencies, six bodies have not yet been identified. It is planned to send their remains to the South Russian city of Rostov-on-Don for forensic medical examination.
One of the inhabitants of Grozny who was an eyewitness of the sad events told Prague Watchdog’s correspondent that the burial of people in the grounds of Kirov Park took place in the winter of 2000, when Russian soldiers stormed the Chechen capital.
"Someone was buried there almost every day,” says 44-year-old Adlan. "After all, it was precisely in January-February 2000 that Grozny underwent the most intensive shelling and air raids. Among the people killed were both guerrillas and civilians.”
"There was almost no possibility of transporting the bodies to the villages, as is usually done. The city was completely blockaded, and it was subjected to continuous bombing and shelling with all kinds of weaponry. Like many tens of thousands of Grozny’s inhabitants, I found myself in the blockaded city. It was a terrible time. There was no heat and no light, and the shortage of food supplies and water constantly made itself felt. It was impossible to evacuate the sick and wounded, and many of them died because they did not receive aid in time," he asserts.
"I also took part several times in the burials of those who had been killed. I even had a list of the surnames of everyone who was buried there, but later on I lost it. In addition, we placed a note (usually in jars or bottles) in each grave, showing the surnames and first names of the victims. As far as I know, in April-May of 2000 nine graves were uncovered in Kirov Park, and the relatives took away the remains for burial in cemeteries,” Adlan says.
“I can’t speak with certainty today, but I think that many more people were buried there. As for the bodies which could not be identified, they were most probably buried as unknowns,” the respondent believes.
As is now known, a criminal case has been opened by the Leninsky district Prosecutor’s Office concerning the discovery of the mass grave in the Chechen capital. However, local residents express doubt that the Russian soldiers who are to blame for the deaths of people in the winter of 2000 will ever be punished.
"As a result of non-selective artillery fire, which included the use of multiple-launch rocket systems such as ‘Grad’, ‘Uragan’ and ‘Smerch’, and of vacuum, needle and other bombs, thousands of innocent civilians perished in Chechnya, and in particular the city of Grozny, during 1999-2000," says Alikhan Isayev, who teaches at one of Grozny’s institutions of higher education.
"The responsibility for this lies first and foremost with the high Russian military command, including Yeltsin and Putin as commanders-in-chief," he is convinced.
"I would like to see them charged with criminal responsibility. For that reason, I consider the opening of a criminal case concerning the discovery of a mass grave in Kirov Park to be a pure formality.".
On the site of the former Kirov Park the local authorities plan to build a large entertainment centre which will bear the name of Akhmat-Khadji Kadyrov, the late Moscow-backed Chechen leader.
Translated by David McDuff.
(MD/T) RELATED ARTICLES:
· Cluster Munitions Use by Russian Federation Forces in Chechnya (Mennonite Central Committee)