December 31st 2001 · Prague Watchdog · PRINTER FRIENDLY FORMAT · E-MAIL THIS

April 2001

Summary of main news related to the conflict in Chechnya.

April 2

Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs voiced disagreement with some parts of the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, read at the 57th session of the United Nations Commission for Human Rights. On Tuesday Vladimir Kalamanov, special presidential plenipotentiary for human rights in Chechnya, said Mary Robinson could not find its role in the implementation of stability and peace in Chechnya, in contrast to Council of Europe’s top representatives Alvaro Gil-Robles and Walter Schwimmer.

April 3

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in his State of the Federation speech at the State Duma that the army had fulfilled its major tasks and was leaving Chechnya. It is a serious result, however, its cost is high and the threat of new crimes is still too high, Putin added.

April 5

Umar Khanbiev, Health Minister of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, read at the hearings of the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva a report on the use by Russian troops of banned types of weapons, including chemical ones.

April 7

Several thousand Chechens held an antiwar rally in the Chechen capital Grozny. The protesters called for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya and the launch of talks with Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov. After three hours the demonstration was dispersed by local pro-Moscow militia and several people were arrested.

April 9

Viktor Dokhnov officially started his half-yearly term of office as Chechnya's new prosecutor within the federal judicial system, replacing acting prosecutor Vsevolod Chernov.

Some 2,000 residents of Chechen capital Grozny held an anti-war rally in the capital's southern district of Chernorechye in protest against heavy shelling of residential areas of the neighbouring settlement Aldi and district Oktyabrski in the south-western part of Grozny. The shelling, which was carried out by the Russian artillery on the previous night, killed several people and destroyed about twenty houses.

April 10

The military court in the South Russian town of Roston-on-Don again postponed the trial with Col. Yuri Budanov, who in late March 2000 killed Chechen girl Elza Kungayeva, after he took her in her house in the village of Tangi. The court hearings were to resume on Wednesday but were postponed again.

Various accounts of the alleged discovery of seventeen bodies in the basement of a police building in the Oktyabrsky district of Grozny emerged.

April 11

The security situation in Chechnya's capital Grozny "is not getting better, but worse," the Russian minister responsible for Chechnya, Vladimir Yelagin, said, pointing at the fact that at night Grozny is controlled by Chechen fighters.

April 12

One of the deputy heads of the pro-Moscow Chechen administration and influential Chechen politician cooperating with the federal centre, Adam Deniyev, was killed by a bomb blast at a private television studio in village Avturi in the Shali district, southeast of Grozny.

The European Union presented to the United Nations Commission for Human Rights a five-page resolution which strongly protests against continuing use of disproportionate and indiscriminate force against Chechen civilians, including executions, torture and arbitrary detentions.

April 13

The United Nations office in the Russian Federation informed that during the past 18 months, UN agencies and their partners have carried out humanitarian programmes in Ingushetia and Chechnya valued at US$ 56.4 million.

April 14

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Chechnya for the first time since he took his presidential office in March 2000. Putin, accompanied by Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov, Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov and Mass Media Minister Mikhail Lesin, visited military base Khankala near Grozny in order to discuss, among other things, soldiers' unpaid wages.

April 16

Akhmad Kadyrov, head of the pro-Moscow administration in Chechnya, signed a decree banning all public gatherings, such as congresses, conferences, demonstrations, and marches on the territory of Chechnya.

April 17

Russian authorities stopped issuing foreign passports to Chechen residents.

April 18

A symbolic ceremony of returning Grozny its status of a capital was held in the city as the Moscow-appointed Chechen government convened for the first, three-hour meeting in Grozny.

The Czech government decided to grant a temporary protection status to Chechen refugees residing in the Czech Republic, most of whom do not comply with the Geneva convention enabling them to get asylum in the country.

April 19

Monetary allowance of servicemen and policemen in Chechnya will be increased, Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov said.

April 20

The Geneva-based UN Commission for Human Rights passed a resolution condemning Russia's use in Chechnya of disproportionate and indiscriminate force, attacks against civilians, breaches of international law, summary executions and "forced disappearances". The resolution also accuses Chechen fighters of torture, taking hostages and the indiscriminate use of land mines.

A prominent Russian human rights activist, Viktor Popkov, was seriously wounded by unidentified gunmen near Alkan-Kala, southwest of Grozny.

April 21

Russia rejected the resolution passed on Friday by the UN Commission for Human Rights, calling it "biased" and accusing the United States of blocking a compromise text.

The first passenger train between Chechnya and Moscow after a two-year break pulled out of Gudermes.

April 22

A Russian reconnaissance unit found a mass grave near a rough mountain road in southern Chechnya containing bodies of 32 people, said a spokesman for Kremlin aide Sergei Yastrzhembsky.

An armed commando stormed into the Swissotel hotel in Istanbul taking a number of hostages in a protest against Russia's military action in Chechnya.

April 23

A group of less then twenty gunmen, who in protest against Russian action in Chechnya had held hostage dozens of guests and staff members in the Swissotel in Istanbul, Turkey, surrendered to the Turkish police early in the morning. Nobody was injured.

Russian prosecutors have investigated 329 crimes against civilians in Chechnya in the past 17 months, says the Progress report on the activities of the Joint Working Group on Chechnya presented to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Pro-Russian Chechen government headed by Stanislav Ilyasov moved officially from the second largest city Gudermes to the capital Grozny.

April 24

French photographer Brice Fleutiaux, who was kept as a hostage in Chechnya from October 1999 to June 2000, commited suicide, reportedly after a long period of depression. Based on his experience from Chechnya, Fleutiaux has written a book "Hostage in Chechnya" ("Otage en Tchechenie"), which was published in France several days ago.

April 25

Six policemen were killed and five injured as a bomb tore apart the criminal police building in Gudermes.

Skulls of 32 people were exhumed from the mass grave found on April 16 near the village of Gezikhoy.

Sixteen human rights organizations, including Memorial and the Moscow Helsinki Group, published an open letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin urging him to stop the forced relocation of Chechen refugees from the camps in Ingushetia back to Chechnya, which should be completed by the end of the year.

April 26

Several hundred people gathered at Moscow's Pushkin square to demand an end to the Russian military operations in Chechnya and to call for the immediate launching of peace talks.

April 28

A court in Rostov-on-Don sentenced two former Russian servicemen to 15 years of imprisonment for their participation in Chechen armed formations.

April 30

Thirteen pro-Chechen gunmen who took 120 people hostage last week at an Istanbul luxury hotel, and four others suspected of providing them assistance, were in Turkey formally charged in court and ordered held until trial.

Compiled by Prague Watchdog


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