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Russian-Chechen War: Media Coverage #001 [11 DEC 2000]

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  • Ralph Davis
    Russian-Chechen War: Media Coverage #001 [11 DEC 2000] [Open-source resources compiled by Ralph Davis for the recipient s personal use.] 1. Heavy civilian
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 8, 2001
      Russian-Chechen War: Media Coverage #001 [11 DEC 2000]
      [Open-source resources compiled by Ralph Davis for the
      recipient's personal use.]

      1.   Heavy civilian toll in Chechnya's 'unlimited violence'
      2.   Russia to give Georgian border guards arms and equipment
      3.   Local administration official gunned down in Chechnya
      4.   Georgian presidential spokesman blames Spanish paper for misquote
      6.   Russia: Attempt made in Chechnya to kill head of local energy system
      7.   Press Release: On a terrorist attack in Alkhan Yurt
      8.   Emil Pain Named Galina Starovoitova Fellowship Recipient
      9.   Stepashin: Funds for Chechnya Embezzled
      10.  Russian commander brands Chechen warlord a "maniac killer"
      11.  Georgian Presidential Spokesman: "Georgia's Chechnya" Was Invented By
      Russian Journalists
      12.  Chechen mayor retracts claim that Russian military ransacked his home
      13.  Chechnya: Russia's Open Wound
      14.  Chechens say main task not to let enemy leave Chechnya alive


      1.  Heavy civilian toll in Chechnya's 'unlimited violence'
      In their 18-month operation, Russian troops don't just target rebels, say
      rights groups.
      By Scott Peterson
      Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor (11 December 2000)

      GUDERMES, CHECHNYA - In an operation local residents say is typical in
      Russian-controlled areas, men in camouflage uniforms and black ski masks
      arrived in an unmarked armored vehicle on Mozdokskaya Street in Grozny, the
      Chechen capital, and whisked away 10 people.

      Among the detainees were Haji Said-Alwi Gakayev's three daughters, who have
      not been heard from since the incident last June.

      "I brought them up to be cosmonauts, but I don't know if they have gone to
      heaven yet or not," says the white-bearded Mr. Gakayev, tilting his
      traditional red-velvet hat forward in resignation.

      A Muslim spiritual leader in Gudermes, the center of the Moscow-appointed
      Chechen administration in this breakaway southern republic, he now takes
      care of all eight of his grandchildren. "Every night I come home, and they
      ask, 'Where is Mama?' " Gakayev says. "And every night their grandfather
      starts weeping."

      War's 'new phase'

      Russian commanders say their acts are aimed at quashing separatist Islamic

      But as the 14-month Russian occupation of Chechnya grinds on, Russian forces
      have been using brutal methods against civilians - from summary executions
      to kidnapping, say rights groups, Chechens, and even some soldiers

      "The war ... has entered a new phase," said the Nobel Peace prize-winning
      humanitarian group Médecins sans Frontières, in a late November report. "The
      Russian forces have transformed Chechnya into a vast ghetto," the report
      says. "In this ghetto, terror reigns ... every civilian is a suspect, and
      freedom of movement is denied. Each and every checkpoint is a 'Russian
      roulette' which puts their lives at stake."

      It is known as bespredel, a Russian slang term that means excessive abuse of
      power, and, in Chechnya especially, "unlimited violence."

      "It's worse than I thought," says one young conscript at the main Russian
      base of Khankala, 10 miles east of Grozny, while eating a breakfast of
      tinned tuna and boiled buckwheat. "I thought this was a war, but it is

      "No, no - keep that to yourself," warns an officer, apparently aware that
      Russia's image has been tarnished by persistent reports of Russian abuses

      Critics have launched a chorus of complaints about alleged Russian
      atrocities since federal troops reentered Chechnya in September 1999, with
      the stated purpose of restoring law and order in a region that had fallen
      into lawlessness under Chechen rule.

      Russia's post-superpower prestige disintegrated at the hands of guerrillas
      in the first Chechen war of 1994-96. A sense of revenge, analysts say, has
      partly motivated Moscow's second campaign.

      So winning Chechen hearts and minds has not been a priority. Grozny's
      central market was entirely destroyed by Russian armored vehicles on Nov.
      27 - this year, the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

      Rebel attacks are expected to increase at this time. Pro-Moscow Chechen
      authorities say that in November alone, 18 Russian soldiers were killed in
      or disappeared from the market.

      But Muslims traditionally end daytime fasting during Ramadan with a feast,
      and the market was an important source of food and income for thousands.

      Russian forces have largely pushed the separatist fighters out of Grozny and
      into the snow-covered mountains along the southern border with Georgia.
      Moscow is aiming to cut back troop strength to about 25,000, down from
      90,000 at the beginning of the year.

      The price of continued conflict has been high for civilians. Acts of
      violence are "designed to humiliate civilians: arbitrary executions and
      mopping-up operations, arrests and disappearances, extortion and
      racketeering of cadavers," last month's report by Médecins sans Frontières

      Officially, more than 10,000 Chechens were arrested in the first five months
      of the year alone.

      Caught in the middle

      Testimony is not hard to find, even on a brief visit to Chechnya organized
      by Russian officials.

      "People are being exterminated by federal forces - that is the truth," says
      a woman who works for the pro-Moscow administration in Gudermes. Two of her
      nephews have disappeared. But she is no supporter of the rebels, either,
      having been held hostage for eight months in 1998 by kidnappers linked to a
      Chechen warlord.

      "Troops catch everybody, military or not - they just disappear," she says.
      "It's bespredel, like the extermination of the nation. If it keeps going on,
      all the people will either be exterminated, or they will rise up."

      Some senior officers are not convinced. "We have declared an amnesty [for
      rebels deemed not to have been involved in crimes], so state officials do
      not want them exterminated," says Col. Igor Yegiazarov, commander of Russian
      forces in northern Chechnya. "As for the mass execution of the Chechen
      people, I have not ever seen that. It's better to talk to the Chechens
      themselves," Colonel Yegiazarov says. "I do know of officers and generals
      who tried to prevent local murders and looting [by soldiers]. If things like
      [bespredel] happen, then the guilty will have to be responsible before a
      criminal court, like any other army in the world."

      Extreme measures from Moscow are not unknown to Chechnya. Soviet dictator
      Joseph Stalin - accusing Chechens of supporting Nazi Germany in World War
      II - ordered the mass uprooting of the entire Chechen population to Siberia
      in 1944, an event still remembered annually on Deportation Day.

      The pro-Moscow administration has warned Russian troops that abuses further
      undermine their tenuous credibility. "We have certain problems with federal
      troops, but we know the Army is against a very cunning enemy," says Abdullah
      Bugayev, a deputy administrator in Gudermes. The administration pursues some
      cases of wrongful detention. For instance, Gakayev says the mayor of
      Gudermes is helping to find his three daughters.

      "I wouldn't dramatize it," Mr. Bugayev says, when asked about bespredel. He
      notes that several pro-Moscow officials have been killed, some brutally:
      "You can't just look at one side."

      Conditions on the ground are tough for young soldiers, who often say they
      were lured by promises of high combat pay.

      "This is a dirty war, people shoot you in the back," says one Russian
      soldier, leaning over a fire at dusk at the muddy Khankala camp. "There is
      no heroic fighting, like in a real, classic war. There is nothing romantic
      at all."

      2.  Russia to give Georgian border guards arms and equipment
      BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Dec 10, 2000

      Text of report by Georgian news agency Prime-News

      Tbilisi, 10th December: Before the end of December, the Georgian State
      Border Guard Department is to receive arms and equipment from the Russian
      Federal Border Guard Service.

      Georgian border chief Lt-Gen Valeri Chkheidze told Prime-News that Georgian
      border guards would mainly receive devices to help them seal off certain
      sections of the border, as well as equipment for visual and radar

      The Georgian side will also receive firearms and ammunition.

      According to Lt-Gen Chkheidze, the handover of the equipment will take place
      in several stages.

      Source: Prime-News news agency, Tbilisi, in Georgian 1300 gmt 10 Dec 00

      3.  Local administration official gunned down in Chechnya
      BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Dec 11, 2000

      Text of report by Russian news agency ITAR-TASS

      Khankala, 11th December, ITAR-TASS correspondent Sergey Gulyayev: In a bid
      to intimidate the civilian population cooperating with the federal
      authorities, the rebels are resorting to extreme tactics, with leaflets
      distributed by the rebels calling for the physical elimination of local
      administration officials.

      It is against that background that the bodies of Alkhan-Kala administration
      deputy head Zura Koliyeva and her husband were discovered in that village at
      No 7 Beregovaya Ulitsa [street] at around midday on Sunday [10th December].
      The family had been gunned down.

      Meanwhile, a home-made explosive device was made safe near the local
      administration offices by staff of the District anti-organized crime
      department of the provisional internal affairs directorate in Naurskiy
      District on 10th December, the Russian Interior Ministry's temporary press
      centre in the North Caucasus has informed ITAR-TASS.

      Source: ITAR-TASS news agency, Moscow, in Russian 0707 gmt 11 Dec 00

      4.  Georgian presidential spokesman blames Spanish paper for misquote
      BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Dec 9, 2000

      Text of report by Georgian news agency Prime-News

      Tbilisi, 9th December: Kakha Imnadze, the Georgian president's press
      secretary, has told journalists that he is amazed by the Spanish newspaper
      `El Pais' attributing to him an assumption that the abduction of two Spanish
      businessmen in Tbilisi on 30th November was in Russia's interest.

      Imnadze said that, speaking to an `El Pais' correspondent, he said that the
      abduction of the Spanish businessmen was not in the interests of those who
      were interested in the normalization of relations with Georgia.

      The Georgian president's press secretary said that the conclusion drawn by
      the Spanish newspaper did not reflect the stand taken by the Georgian

      He said that it was impossible to accuse anyone of being responsible for the
      abduction of the Spanish businessmen until an investigation into the case
      had been completed. Imnadze said that the relevant structures were engaged
      in serious work to resolve the case but the results achieved so far could
      not revealed in the interest of the investigation.

      Imnadze said that preventive measures enforced by the Georgian police on the
      roads in eastern Georgia and in the areas bordering Russia on 8th December
      would certainly help improve the crime situation in the country. According
      to Imnadze, no excesses have been recorded at the interior troops
      checkpoints in the past 24 hours.

      Source: Prime-News news agency, Tbilisi, in Georgian 1150 gmt 9 Dec 00


            GUDERMES, December 9, 2000 (AVN) - Russian Chief-of-Staff Anatoly
      Kvashnin ordered that military garrisons should be deployed in every
      populated area in Chechnya, a source in the unified federal headquarters
      told the Military News Agency.

             The order was voiced at a meeting held in Gudermes and attended by
      Lieutenant-General Valery Baranov, unified federal group commander,
      Lieutenant-General Alexander Chekalin, deputy interior minister, and heads
      of Chechen towns and districts administrations.

             Federal units and local residents will comprise the backbone of such

             According to the source, Kvashnin demanded that issuance of new
      passports instead of papers should be cancelled, for the latter were often
      used by rebels posing as local residents. Garrison commanders and local
      administrators were asked to take full census, which will be followed by
      strict registration procedures as regards those coming into regions.
      Law-enforcement bodies are to be informed of any "newcomers" on short
      notice. Otherwise, heads of local authorities will be duly dealt with.

      6.  Russia: Attempt made in Chechnya to kill head of local energy system
      BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Dec 11, 2000

      Text of report in English by Russian news agency Interfax

      Moscow, 11th December: An attempt on the life of Nurdin Usamov, the director
      general of Grozenergo [Groznyy energy system], the Unified Energy System of
      Russia (UES) branch in Chechnya, took place in Groznyy on Monday [11th

      A Volga car with Usamov, his bodyguard and chauffeur inside, was on its way
      from Grozenergo to the village of Chervlennaya at 3.20 p.m. When it was
      passing a GAZ-66 truck parked on the roadside, an explosion occurred, the
      UES press service has told Interfax. It is assumed that the truck was
      stuffed with explosives.

      The Volga passengers survived because an armoured personnel carrier was
      moving between the Volga and the GAZ-66 at the moment the bomb went off,
      which actually guarded the Volga from the blast.

      The Grozenergo director suffered a concussion, but his life is out of

      The servicemen in the armoured personnel carrier weren't injured, the press
      service said.

      Several days ago, unidentified gunmen fired at the Grozenergo office in
      Groznyy, but their attack was repelled.

      Source: Interfax news agency, Moscow, in English 1409 gmt 11 Dec 00

      7.   Press Release: On a terrorist attack in Alkhan Yurt
      10-722 (12/11/2000)


      The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria states
      that the terrorist attack on Saturday in the Chechen village Alkhan-Yurt was
      carried out by Russian forces. Over 20 local civilians including children
      were murdered in the attack and over 50 were wounded. The attack clearly
      amounts to war crimes as it was deliberately directed against the civilian

      We note that the Russian attempt to blame Chechen authorities for the attack
      is yet another portion of shameless lies by Russian officials. We note that
      terrorist attacks have become a major instrument of Russian State policy. We
      remind that last year’s apartment bombings in Moscow – in the very heart of
      Russia - were done to create a popular support for launching yet another
      Russian aggression against the Chechen people.

      The Russian terrorist attack in Alkhan Yurt came a day after Russian General
      Staff Chief General Kvashnin publicly announced Russian plans to locate ‘on
      constant basis’ Russian military garrisons in 203 Chechen towns and
      villages. Clearly, the bomb attack was aimed to justify new Russian plans.

      Almost immediately after the attack, the Russians blamed the Chechen side
      for the explosion. Then, ‘an appeal of local people’ to Putin was
      immediately invented, which was followed by the Russian announcement that a
      Russian military garrison was being created in Alkhan-Yurt to ‘protect the
      civilian population’. This is a first step in implementing the new Russian

      Russia has always ‘saved’ nations by physically exterminating them. The
      Russian ‘saving mission’ cost 100 000 lives of Chechen citizens in the
      1994-1996 war, and another 50.000 in the present war. Doubtlessly, the new
      Russian plan for the ‘protection of local civilians’ will cost the Chechen
      people another dozens of thousands of lives of Chechen children, women, and

      From east to west and from south to north, Russia has always tried to
      justify its brutal aggressions by claiming to be ‘saving’ neighbouring
      nations. We have seen it in Finland, Czechoslovakia, Afghanistan, and many
      other states that happened to be so unfortunate as to be geographic
      neighbours of the Russian Empire. The terrorist attack in Alkhan-Yurt is yet
      another component of the Russian chain that strangles nations.

      The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria notes
      that Russia continues to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity in
      Chechnya because the international community has failed to launch an
      international investigation and to create an international war tribunal for
      crimes against the Chechen people.

      We sincerely hope that the international community will eventually realise
      that crimes must be investigated and those responsible must be punished.

      Press-release: Contact: Mr. Roman Khalilov
      Tel: + 32 477 54 73 82
      Fax: + 32 2 742 21 90

      8.   Emil Pain Named Galina Starovoitova Fellowship Recipient
      Was advisor on nationality problems to former President Yeltsin
      Washington File (11 December 2000)

      Emil Pain, an advisor on nationality problems to former Russian
      President Boris Yeltsin from 1994-1999, has been named the Galina
      Starovoitova Fellowship recipient for the academic year 2000-2001,
      according to a December 11 State Department press release.

      The Galina Starovoitova Fellowship is awarded to prominent scholars
      and policymakers from the Russian Federation who seek to advance human
      rights and conflict resolution. It was established in January 1999 at
      the direction of U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, in
      memory of the slain Duma member. Starovoitova was killed by two
      unknown assassins on November 20, 1998, in St. Petersburg.

      Following is the text of the release:

      (begin text)

      Washington, D.C.
      Office of the Spokesman
      December 11, 2000



      The U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural
      Affairs announces that Emil Pain is the Galina Starovoitova Fellowship
      recipient for the academic year 2000-2001. Pain will conduct nine
      months of research on Russia's nationality policy at the Washington,
      D.C.-based Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies at the
      Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

      An advisor to former Russian President Boris Yeltsin from 1994-1999 on
      nationality problems, Pain analyzed conflict areas of the former
      Soviet Union and took part in conflict resolution negotiations in
      Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Georgia. He was also involved in
      negotiations during Russia's first war with the Chechen Republic. On
      December 10, 1994, the day Russian troops entered the territory of
      Chechnya, Pain was the first Yeltsin administration high-ranking
      official to state on live television his disagreement with a military
      solution for Chechnya. In 1999, he again stated his disagreement with
      the Yeltsin administration's decision to resolve the Chechen problem
      with military force. Prior to advising former President Yeltsin, Pain
      served as deputy director of Presidential Analytical Service of the
      Russian Federation and as head of the Group on Nationality Problems,
      Presidential Council of the Russian Federation. He is the currently
      the director of the Center for Ethnopolitical and Regional Studies of
      INDEM Foundation.

      Established in January 1999 in Moscow at the direction of U.S.
      Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, the Galina Starovoitova
      Fellowship is awarded to prominent scholars and policy-makers from the
      Russian Federation who seek to advance human rights and conflict
      resolution. Starovoitova, one of the Soviet Union's leading
      specialists on ethnicity, served in the USSR Supreme Soviet from
      Yerevan and the Russian Supreme Soviet. She was a presidential advisor
      on ethnic relations from 1991-1992, co-founded the Democratic Russia
      movement, and ran as a candidate in Russia's 1996 presidential
      elections. In 1995, she was elected to the Russian State Duma and
      represented the 209th parliamentary district in northern St.
      Petersburg. She was also a senior fellow at the U.S. Institute of
      Peace, a research scholar at the Kennan Institute and a distinguished
      visiting professor at Brown University. Starovoitova was killed by two
      unknown assassins on November 20, 1998, in St. Petersburg.

      The fellowship, awarded through a competition administered jointly by
      ECA and the Kennan Institute, is part of the Department of State's
      public diplomacy effort to foster mutual understanding between the
      U.S. and other countries through international educational and
      training programs. Under the auspices of the Department of State, more
      than 5,000 students, scholars, professionals and community leaders a
      year from Russia and the New Independent States come to the U.S. to
      study, conduct research and make linkages in schools, universities,
      non-governmental organizations, think tanks, federal offices,
      businesses and other communities.

      For more information, please contact Catherine Stearns, U.S.
      Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, phone
      (202) 619-5053 or e-mail:

      (end text)

      (Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
      Department of State. Web site:

      9.   Stepashin: Funds for Chechnya Embezzled
      by Sophia Kornienko
      Transitions Online (4 - 10 December 2000)

      ST. PETERSBURG, Russia -- The investigation into the possible embezzlement
      of aid for reconstruction in the war-torn republic of Chechnya has picked up
      pace. Audit Chamber head Sergei Stepashin said on 1 December that half of
      the 1.3 million rubles ($46.5 million) earmarked for the project did not
      reach its destination. As a result, Stepashin said, none of the planned
      reconstruction work is taking place.

      The money for the restoration of Chechnya was outlined in the federal
      budget. "Part of that money has already been stolen," Stepashin said during
      the Audit Chamber. He also announced he would send classified materials
      along with the names of those responsible from the Finance and Economy
      Ministries to the Prosecutor's Office immediately after the meeting.

      All effort to restore the Chechen economy stopped in July, Stepashin stated.
      "Not a single important factory has been rebuilt; there is no electricity in
      the area and the authorities are not even aware of how many inhabitants live
      in the republic," the Russian Internet daily Gazeta.ru quoted him as saying.
      Stepashin said that Audit Chamber investigations have concluded that 65
      million rubles from the federal budget to fund special projects in Chechnya
      were spent inappropriately and over 100 million rubles were not spent at

      In contradiction to Stepashin's statements, Deputy Prime Minister and
      Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin told the press that the Audit Chamber has not
      revealed any heavy abuse in Chechen financing this year. According to
      Kudrin, the Chamber does not possess any documentation of embezzlement--at
      least none serious enough to launch a criminal case.

      Moscow's appointed chief envoy in Chechnya, Akhmad Kadyrov, was quick to
      support Stepashin's statements by pleading for more funding in an interview
      with independent NTV television. "If the situation does not change, Chechnya
      will become impossible to control," Kadyrov said, adding that he needs more
      money to restore residential buildings.

      Almost $2 billion was apportioned in the federal budget to reconstruct
      Chechnya back in 1995. At the time, then-President Boris Yeltsin publicly
      confessed that funding seemed to have "strangely disappeared somewhere," NTV
      quoted him as saying at the time. According to Stepashin, however, the
      situation this time is much more serious.

      Presently, there are an estimated 175,000 Chechen refugees struggling to
      survive through the winter in neighboring Ingushetia. According to Putin's
      representative in the region, Vassily Korobeynikov, the refugee camps have
      turned into breeding grounds for criminal activity and drug abuse. Several
      new camps have been equipped to accommodate 4,000 people each, yet many
      continue to live in empty train carriages and hand-made tents, and the
      situation is worsening with increasing numbers of refugees.

      Russian Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov said on 10 December that he had
      already initiated several criminal cases against officials in connection
      with "Chechen money." Furthermore, the newly appointed Russian envoy to
      Chechnya, stated earlier last week that he had created "special, clear
      mechanisms of triple, double control [of funds for Chechnya]." However, with
      his office in Moscow, experts don't expect Yelagin can sufficiently trace
      the transfer of funds to Chechnya. By the year's end, Putin has promised
      that financial transfers to the war-torn republic will reach 2 billion
      rubles ($71 million).

      Increased violence was again the order of the day on 9 and 10 December when
      two terrorist bombings took the lives of over 20 people. A bomb exploded in
      the southern Russian city of Pyatigorsk, killing three people. Also, a
      massive explosion at a mosque in Alkhan-Yurt--not far from the Chechen
      capital of Grozny--killed 21 people, almost half of them children.

      10.  Russian commander brands Chechen warlord a "maniac killer"
      BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Dec 11, 2000

      Text of report by Russian Public TV on 11th December

      [Presenter] Fresh information emerged today in the investigation into the
      terrorist act in the village Alkhan-Yurt. The military say that the crime,
      which left 21 people dead, was ordered by the well-known field commander,
      Arbi Barayev, and that the act itself was directed against the entourage of
      the leader of the Chechen state council, Malik Saydullayev. Alkhan-Yurt is
      his home territory and many of the members of the village administration
      form part of Saydulloyev's inner circle. And this is what journalists were
      told by the commander of the federal forces [in the North Caucasus], Valeriy

      [Baranov] Arbi Barayev is directly involved in this terrorist act. He is a
      bandit among bandits. He has on his hands the blood of more than 200 people,
      and that's just Chechens. Just in the course of November and the beginning
      of December he has killed more than 30 Chechens. Chechens! His own people!
      He's a maniac. A maniac killer.

      Source: Russian Public TV, Moscow, in Russian 1500 gmt 11 Dec 00

      11.  Georgian Presidential Spokesman: "Georgia's Chechnya" Was Invented By
      Russian Journalists
      Lenta.RU (Updated 09.12.2000 at 08:19:23)

      Some Russia's media and official reports that there are numerous Chechen
      rebels in the Pankisskoye gorge, a region inhabited by ethnic Chechens, are
      nothing but provocation that aims to undermine Georgia's authority, Georgian
      Presidential Spokesman Kakha Imnadze told Interfax news agency.

      According to Imnadze, Russia's Security Council Secretary Sergey Ivanov
      stated during his recent official visit to Georgia that mountainous relief
      of the region made difficult for Chechen rebels and terrorists to penetrate
      into the territory.

      The spokesman denied the information that Chechen rebels controlled 17
      villages in the Pankisskoye gorge. According to him, there are 16 villages
      in the gorge and ethnic Chechens live in only six settlements in this

      At the same time Georgian Interior Minister Kakha Targamadze told at a press
      conference in Tbilisi that some hostages were still being held by "criminal
      groupings" in this region. The Ministry stated that police were going to
      carry out operations to free the captive people and that Georgian
      authorities had no intention to pay a ransoms to criminals.

      12.  Chechen mayor retracts claim that Russian military ransacked his home
      BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Dec 11, 2000

      The check conducted by the Chechen prosecutor's office has failed to confirm
      that Russian servicemen were involved in the attack on the house of Groznyy
      mayor Beslan Gantamirov, deputy head of the Chechen Republic's
      administration. The plaintiff himself is no longer insisting on a "federal"
      connection. But people in Beslan Gantamirov's entourage are saying that
      their boss has been persuaded to retract his initial statement and to agree
      with the arguments of the prosecutor's office.

      Nadezhda Pogosova, an employee at the Chechen Republic prosecutor's office,
      whom we asked to comment on the result of the check into the events in the
      settlement of Gekhi, said with barely concealed anger: "Why have you made a
      fuss out of nothing? Nothing was confirmed there. No-one robbed anyone." "So
      there was no attack either?" we asked. "Perhaps there was, but the military
      had nothing to do with it." "But who did?" "Leonid Ilyushenko, the
      Urus-Martanovskiy District prosecutor, travelled to Gekhi to conduct a
      check. Ask him."

      It proved impossible to get in touch with the District prosecutor. He was
      out of town. However, light was shed on the picture of what happened at
      Beslan Gantamirov's house by Vladislav Chernov, the Chechen Republic
      prosecutor. "No-one robbed Gantamirov's house," he said. "On that day a
      special federal forces' subunit was carrying out planned measures in Gekhi.
      To check the passport regime our military entered houses, including the
      house belonging to Beslan Gantamirov and his uncle, who lives in the same
      courtyard. But no-one beat anyone up, still less robbed them."

      "And what about the village mosque Imam Vakha Idrisov, who was beaten up?"

      "The Urus-Martanovskiy District prosecutor who travelled there to conduct
      the check met him. Idrisov did not confirm that he had been beaten up by
      servicemen. At any rate he did not lodge a complaint and we have closed the
      criminal case."

      In response to a `Kommersant' request to comment on the results of the
      prosecutor's check, Beslan Gantamirov said: "I did not exaggerate anything
      in my statement. There was indeed a pogrom in my house. There was looting
      and the members of the household and their neighbours were harassed when
      they tried to prevent it. But I cannot insist that the military did this."

      "But only yesterday you were in fact saying that servicemen took part in the
      attack on your house?"

      "I cannot ignore the results of the official investigation, so today I am
      not insisting on the statement I made yesterday."

      Meanwhile, the Groznyy mayor's entourage believes that their boss, as has
      already happened repeatedly in the past, has been persuaded not to cause a
      scandal. Most likely this was done by Viktor Kazantsev, the Russian
      president's plenipotentiary representative in the Southern Federal District,
      who on the second day after the events in Gekhi flew to Groznyy and met
      Beslan Gantamirov...

      Source: 'Kommersant', Moscow, in Russian 10 Dec 00

      13.  Chechnya: Russia's Open Wound
      No Solution in Sight for the North Caucasus Republic
      Andreas Rüesch
      6 December 2000 / Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 24 November 2000

      More than a year after the Russian invasion of Chechnya, the stability
      promised by Moscow for the North Caucasus republic remains just a remote
      dream. There are almost daily attacks by separatist guerrillas, while the
      Russian army has installed an authoritarian regime which is repellent even
      to pro-Moscow Chechens.

      "What is terrorism? In my view it includes masked Russian soldiers driving
      into a Chechen village, arresting inhabitants and dragging them away."
      Shamil Beno, head of the Moscow liaison office of the new Chechen
      administration, freely admits that there are terrorists and bandits among
      his own Chechen people. There are only two ways to deal with the likes of
      militia chiefs Bassayev and Khattab, he notes: either drive them into exile
      or kill them. But Beno is currently at least as worried about the behavior
      of Russian soldiers in his homeland. According to his information, during
      the more than one year of fighting in the current campaign more than 2,000
      persons have "disappeared" - usually after being arrested at Russian
      checkpoints or during "mopping up" in Chechen villages by special units of
      the Russian army. Since Moscow has not yet set up any judicial system worthy
      of the name in the reconquered republic, the abducted people are completely
      at the mercy of the military. And testimony by many Chechens reveals that
      often they are released, if at all, only after payment of a sizable bribe.

      Survival More Important Than Independence

      The fact that Shamil Beno can speak openly about these problems in his
      freshly renovated office in the heart of Moscow is just one of the many
      paradoxes of this conflict. One would normally expect that, as a
      representative of the Chechen administration head Kadyrov appointed by
      Russian President Putin, he would have to adopt a pro-Moscow line. But Beno
      mouths none of the propaganda phrases that regularly emanate from official
      Russian spokesmen; instead, he freely reports on how the Russian military is
      hindering the work of the civilian administration back in his homeland.
      Also unusual is Beno's biography. In the early 1990s he served briefly as
      "foreign minister" under the first separatist Chechen president Dudayev.
      Beno has not given up on Chechen independence, but under the present
      circumstances he regards the security and sheer survival of the Chechen
      people as more important objectives. Four of his direct ancestors, he says,
      were killed by the Russians, beginning with his great-great-grandfather
      during the rebellion of 1832. There will be security for the Chechens, he
      insists, only when democratization in Russia has become irreversible. Until
      then, it is better not to stir up Russians' chauvinism unnecessarily,
      especially since the imperialist mentality is still deeply rooted among

      Moderate voices like that of Beno, who criticizes extremists on both sides
      of the conflict, are seldom heard among the Russians. Moscow's official tone
      continues to be set by hardliners such as Defense Minister Sergeyev, who
      recently declared - perhaps for the hundredth time - that the war in the
      North Caucasus had taken a "final turn" in Moscow's favor. President Putin,
      too, apparently can conceive only of a military resolution of the conflict,
      although the brutal operations of the army have brought nothing but
      suffering and destruction - certainly not the hoped-for stability in the

      More than a year after Russian troops again marched into the rebellious
      republic, they still do not have the situation under control. The
      large-scale military operations are over, but hardly a day passes without
      Russian soldiers falling victim to attacks or explosions. In late October a
      bomb exploded in a village café south of Grozny; five Russian military
      personnel and three civilian employees were killed. A week later, an
      hour-long gun battle raged in the middle of Grozny between soldiers and
      partisans, of whom there are reportedly still several hundred in the Chechen
      capital. Just how threatened the occupiers must constantly feel was
      graphically illustrated a few days ago by an Interfax Agency dispatch,
      reporting that "unknown persons" had shot two soldiers in the open street,
      one after another, the first in front of a post office and the second in a

      Vengeance Against Collaborators

      The chief officials of the pro-Russian interim administration also live in
      constant fear of attack. In the eyes of the guerrillas they are traitors and
      collaborators, and in the partisans' jargon their murder is simply "carrying
      out the death sentences passed by Islamic sharia courts." Since the
      beginning of this month alone, armed fighters "executed" the village headman
      of Alkhan-Kala and the police chief of Vedeno; two other high-ranking
      administration officials barely escaped bomb attacks. As an archenemy of the
      Chechen Islamists, the head of the Chechen administration, Kadyrov, seems in
      particular danger. Because of the precarious security situation, he has so
      far refrained from moving his headquarters from Gudermes, where he can rely
      on the support of locals, to the capital.

      The guerrillas are a heterogeneous alliance of Chechen nationalists,
      Islamists, foreign mujahedin and armed criminal gangs. The extent of their
      popular support is difficult to gauge, but it is obviously enough for them
      to operate in broad daylight in the cities and villages. The Russian leaders
      have squandered their chance of winning the civilian populace to their side.
      While many Chechens initially hoped that their new masters would at least
      guarantee order and welfare, that has turned out to be an illusion.

      By moving against Chechen civilians, says Duma Deputy Alexander Kravetz, a
      leading member of the local Communist Party, the Russian troops have merely
      added to the separatists' support. Kravetz does not reject Moscow's military
      intervention in the republic, but laments the absence of accompanying
      measures to stimulate the decimated Chechen economy. Moscow has invested no
      significant funds either in reconstruction or in social services. Even the
      reopening of the schools in the "liberated" areas, much touted in Russian
      propaganda, has turned out to be only a halfhearted measure; the government
      itself admits that Chechen teachers have not been paid in more than three
      months. And just a few days ago another harsh spotlight was cast on the
      dreadful conditions in the republic by a TV appearance by Grozny's new
      mayor, Gantamirov. As he stated the case, the city's police has gotten out
      of control and disintegrated into small gangs of bandits who are occupied
      only with extortion and plunder.

      Parliamentary Chief "Disappeared"

      In the estimation of Chechen parliamentarian Aslambek Aslakhanov, the
      reality is a good deal worse than that. Like Beno, he maintains that several
      thousand people have "disappeared" in the course of the war. The most
      prominent victim is the chairman of the republic's parliament, a moderate
      advocate of independence by the name of Alikhadjiyev, who had not
      participated in the fighting at all. According to the state-run RIA agency,
      Alikhadjiyev was arrested in the course of a secret-service operation last
      May and sent off to Russia. But Moscow officially denies this and blames
      Chechen extremists for the man's abduction. Duma Representative Aslakhanov
      cites another incident in the Urus-Martan district, where 82 persons were
      arrested in the course of a "mopping-up operation" in mid-October, after
      which most of them were never seen again. Aslakhanov insists that such
      arrests are often made without the sanction of the state prosecutor's office
      and that in the dungeons of the Russian secret service prisoners are
      tortured, mutilated and killed.

      Last summer, Moscow staged a dubious by-election in the Chechen Republic. To
      the amazement of many observers, the Chechen seat in the Duma went not to
      the candidate favored by the Kremlin, but to Aslakhanov, a former police
      general and a sharp-tongued critic of Moscow's policy of brute force. While
      he has nothing but scorn for the "bandit state" that arose on Chechen soil
      after the collapse of the Soviet Union, he equally condemns the Russian
      military, who in his eyes are nothing but occupiers and thieves. It is his
      impression, he says, that Moscow has virtually declared the republic fair
      game for plunder. The "anti-terror operations," he contends, have become a
      lucrative business for all too many people: for the soldiers, who receive a
      substantial bonus for each day of combat, for the kontraktniki, who enter
      the war on a contract basis, for higher-ranking officers, who take civilians
      hostage on their own initiative and set them free when ransom is paid, and
      for greedy generals who, according to Aslakhanov, ship whole wagon columns
      full of plunder back to Russia.

      One fundamental evil in the situation, says the parliamentarian, is that the
      military do not distinguish between criminal elements and the general
      populace, but treat all Chechens as bandits. What is needed, he insists, is
      a dialogue between the army and the common folk; but instead, innocent
      people are killed and large swathes of the republic destroyed. "This war is
      not only unjust and frivolous, it has united all partisan groups in a
      struggle against the Russians."

      Kovalyov's Pessimism

      Aslakhanov's office is located just a few hundred meters from the Kremlin,
      yet the aggressive politician seems miles away from the centers of power.
      The state-run media give him neither time nor space, and the government
      makes no move to investigate the abuses described by him and other
      politicians. That fate is also shared by the Duma representative and civil
      rights activist Sergei Kovalyov. His penetrating criticism of the present
      military campaign has had little resonance, in contrast to his opposition to
      the first Chechen war in the mid-1990s. Back then, in his official capacity
      as a human rights commissioner, Kovalyov visited Grozny and then had a
      powerful impact on the Russian public with his reports of the Russian army's
      destructive bombardments.

      But the present war still enjoys widespread public support - which Kovalyov
      ascribes to a cynical manipulation of public opinion. Yet he does not doubt
      for an instant that the course Putin is pursuing has no prospect of success:
      "Unless Moscow's policy in the North Caucasus changes radically, this
      conflict will not last just one, two or three years, but much longer. A
      guerrilla war cannot be won by military means. It will die down for a while,
      then flare up again - but it will never end."

      14.  Chechens say main task not to let enemy leave Chechnya alive
      BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Dec 12, 2000

      Text of report by Kavkaz-Tsentr news agency web site

      11th December: The end of last week was notable for events which directly or
      indirectly characterized the situation in the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria
      and in the Caucasus.

      Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces [Gen Anatoliy]
      Kvashnin told the command staff of the occupation group in Gudermes that the
      Russian troops were "beginning a new stage of military operations in
      Chechnya". He said that "garrisons to defend civilians from the fighters
      would be created in all the villages of Chechnya". Thus, according to
      Kvashnin's plans, Moscow "gains the hearts of civilians and neutralizes the
      fighters' activity". These statements by the Russian chief of the general
      staff surprised not only the command staff, but many journalists, who with
      perplexity stated that the Russian military group has declared many times
      that "a new stage of military operations" has started, but there have been
      no results up to now. However, unlike [First Deputy Chief of the General
      Staff Col-Gen Valeriy] Manilov, who always confuses the order of "the
      second" and "the third" stages, Kvashnin spoke about "a new stage". This
      makes it possible for him to interpret this stage according to the
      situation. Kvashnin announced this "new stage in the antiterrorist military
      operations" just after a mojahed suicide bomber killed 32 Russian occupiers
      and a national traitor and wounded about 150 aggressors. Several hours after
      Kvashnin's initiative, Russian Defence Ministry officers corrected what
      Kvashnin had said and explained that the garrisons in villages would be
      created by the local inhabitants and Russians would only help them with
      mobile armoured groups and flying squad subunits.

      Twenty four hours later nobody was talking about Kvashnin's "new stage", as
      journalists were focusing on [the Russian presidential aide Sergey]
      Yastrzhembskiy's statement pledging "to kill all the fighters within three
      months" and statements by a representative of the Russian Defence Ministry,
      who said that "the military operations in Chechnya would last for at least
      12 months". These statements by Russian officials contradicted each other.
      That is why journalists and commentators tried to catch "the hidden idea" in
      the words of the main propagandist on Chechnya [Yastrzhembskiy]. "The hidden
      idea" simply was not found, and they could not manage to hide the
      misunderstandings at the top of the military and political leadership. "The
      supreme commander of the Russian troops", Vladimir Putin, who arrived in
      Chelyabinsk for a judo contest, looked very feeble and unconvincing against
      the background of the explosion in Gudermes. Speaking to journalists, Putin
      unconvincingly stated that "the enclave of brigandage and terrorism in
      Chechnya has been destroyed" and now everyone can sleep peacefully. One can
      assume that the residents of Pyatigorsk reacted to Putin's words in their
      own way, and they were not unanimous in believing that the "Chechen trace"
      should be sought after these explosions. As for the Chechen inhabitants, the
      tracks of the criminals have long been no secret to them.

      Another bloody confirmation of this was an explosion in Alkhan-Yurt, which
      killed more than 20 civilians. Dozens of citizens of Alkhan-Yurt observed
      that a large group of Russian soldiers were taken near a car parked not far
      from the village mosque. After that the Russians unexpectedly stated that
      the car was mined and they neutralized it. A crowd of people believed the
      Russians and approached the car and this time the car exploded. The Chechen
      command unambiguously believes that the explosion was organized by the
      Russian occupiers as an act of revenge for the killing of 32 aggressors in
      Gudermes. In addition, the Chechen side came out with an official statement
      in which it said that it had evidence proving that the latest explosions in
      Pyatigorsk were organized and carried out by the Russian security services.
      The aim of these bloody acts is another attempt to convince everybody of the
      need for the war in the Caucasus and to make the Chechens believe that
      "fighters are fighting against civilians".

      Meanwhile, the Chechen fighters carried out a range of successful military
      operations. Despite the fact that Argun town was blocked by Russian troops,
      mojahedin sabotage groups managed to destroy three pieces of enemy military
      hardware on Sunday [10th December]. A Ural vehicle with soldiers and two
      armoured personnel carriers were blown up in the area of the sugar factory.
      A mojahedin mobile detachment attacked a patrol group of occupiers in
      Zavodskoy district of Dzhokhar [Groznyy]. Three aggressors were killed and
      eight were injured as a result of an exchange of fire.

      The Chechen side also reports about rallies being held against the
      occupation of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria in Kurchaloyevskiy,
      Naurovskiy and Shalinskiy Districts of the country. The mojahedin command
      particularly stresses that many commanders of Russian regiments, which are
      deployed in villages, ask the local inhabitants to organize rallies and
      demonstrations. The commanders of the enemy explain their request by saying
      that public rallies and demonstrations could stop the Kremlin leadership and
      eventually lead to the withdrawal of troops from Chechnya. In private the
      Russian commanders say that they do not want to fight and wish to leave

      In turn, the Chechen command states that rallies and demonstrations were
      effective in the previous war. Today, when a war is being waged to kill an
      entire nation, these kinds of protests are useless. That is why the main
      strategy and tactics of the mojahedin is armed struggle and to kill the
      occupation group. The main task for the Chechen mojahedin army is not to
      allow the occupiers to leave Chechnya alive, the Chechen commanders state.
      Today's main slogan is "to carry out the troops". The mojahedin adhere to
      the firm conviction that aggressor troops should not be withdrawn, but
      should be carried out in coffins and zinc boxes.

      Source: Kavkaz-Tsentr web site, in Russian 11 Dec 00

      [DISCLAIMER: The selection of articles posted in this e-newsletter does not
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