Shali is getting ready for large-scale „mopping-up operation“
Ruslan Isayev, North Caucasus – A large number of Russian forces, including tanks, armoured personnel carriers and fighting vehicles were deployed in the northeast part of the town of Shali, some 20 kilometres southeast of Grozny. The inhabitants of Shali expect that a large-scale “mopping-up operation” will be soon carried out in their town.
Before the war, some 30,000 inhabitants used to live in Shali. These have been joined by hundreds of families of refugees from mountainous districts of Chechnya, whose number is virtually impossible to determine.
Searches and passport checks are being carried out almost on a daily basis. Locals claim they are on the verge of despair. Nightly curfew, in force since 7 p.m till 7 a.m., makes it impossible for them even to go to see their neighbours. Young people do not venture out without a passport even during the day.
Recently, Russian soldiers detained near the local mosque a man who went to see his ill mother living across the street. On October 24, in the Lenin street, Russian soldiers shot dead a 19-year-old man who saw soldiers on APCs and in a panick ran home to take a passport. The soldiers shot him in the back.
The alleged goal of „special operations“ as well as „mopping-up“ operations is to detain people linked to armed formations and to find weapons. However, Russian soldiers are searching Chechen fighters mostly in linen cupboards, clothes cupboards and household equipment. Almost every day they visit people’s houses, preferring to carry out searches at the houses of the well-off.
Nevertheless, there are exceptions. In the village of Serzhen-Yurt, for example, a 70-year-old Zelimkan Zayrkhanov was detained several days ago, for the second time this month. He is being asked to hand over his son, who is allegedly either linked to some attack or owns a pistol. Locals claim Zayrkhanov’s son was not involved in any fighting.
Another four men were detained in Serzen-Yurt these days. Their relatives are trying to locate their traces before it is too late. Their fears are obvious: Three local inhabitants, namely Abubakar Saidulayev (35), Sharani Askharov (46), and Boris Digov (45), have become unaccounted-for over the last four months. The three men had been detained by Russian soldiers during a so called special operation.