Argun sealed off by Russian soldiers again
Ruslan Isayev, North Caucasus, February 22 – Argun, the third biggest town in Chechnya, east of the capital Grozny, has been sealed off by Russian forces again. A large-scale special operation is being conducted in the town, which is encircled by military vehicles. Additional checkpoints have been raised and roads leading to Mesker-Yurt, Starye-Atagi, Novye-Atagi, Berdekel and other villages have been blocked.
Hearing the news about the forthcoming "mopping-up" operation, lots of people, mostly the young, left Argun three days ago, spreading all over Chechnya. The people who managed to leave Argun say that all administrative buildings, schools, kindergartens as well as the territory of the local sugar producing factory are occupied by Russian soldiers. The kindergarten No. 4 has been converted into a temporary filtration point. Allegedly, Russian soldiers detain even pupils who have not received passports yet.
All the people taken to the filtration point are severally beaten. Russian soldiers explained that the beating helps them learn and get used to blood. Occasionally, people who have already undergone the "filtration" procedure are detained for the second or third time. Their relatives are forced to ransom them for 1000 - 5000 roubles (30 - 170 US dollars). Last but not least, soldiers at checkpoints demand some 1000 roubles per each person wishing to leave Argun.