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Russian-Chechen War: Media Coverage #007 [16 DEC 2000]

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  • Ralph Davis
    Russian-Chechen War: Media Coverage #007 [16 DEC 2000] [Open-source resources compiled by Ralph Davis for the recipient s personal use.] 1. AN INTERNATIONAL
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      Russian-Chechen War: Media Coverage #007 [16 DEC 2000]

      [Open-source resources compiled by Ralph Davis for the
      recipient's personal use.]

      2.   Roundtable urges creation of council for Chechen restoration
      3.   Russian military prepares to take fight to Chechnya’s countryside
      4.   Russians hold Chechen over deaths of Britons
      5.   Chechen shari'ah court accuses Uzbek head, Chechen mufti of treason
      6.   Canada could help end Chechen horror
      7.   Terrorists have no human rights: Putin
      8.   Chechens attack Russian units, several soldiers killed - Chechen web
      9.   Interview from Ahmed Zakaev


      RIA Novosti (15 December 2000)

      An international round-table discussion on "Ways to Peace in Chechnya and
      North Caucasus" has opened in Pyatigorsk (Stavropol Territory in the south
      of Russia). This is a new initiative of the peace-keeping mission in North

      The international forum for early prevention of conflict situations, which
      is based in London, took an active part in preparations for and the holding
      of the round-table discussion. The discussion gathered representatives of
      government structures, public, political, and religious organisations from
      all regions of North Caucasus, including the Chechen Republic.

      Recommendations of participants in the round-table discussion concerning the
      settlement of the situation in North Caucasus will be adopted at its final
      session due on Saturday.

      2.   Roundtable urges creation of council for Chechen restoration
      Story Filed: Saturday, December 16, 2000 9:24 AM EST

      PYATIGORSK, Stavropol Territory, December 16 (Itar-Tass) - Participants in a
      roundtable on Chechnya called for creating a national scientific and expert
      council for the restoration normal life in this North Caucasus republic.

      Such a council will seek to engage the Chechen population in the
      rehabilitation work and the restoration and maintenance of order in the

      The roundtable, Paths to Peace in Chechnya and in the North Caucasus, held
      in Pyatigorsk and was organised by the London- based international forum on
      early conflict prevention and the public Peacemaking Mission in the North
      Caucasus created by Krasnoyarsk Territory governor Alexander Lebed.

      It involved representatives of the governments and administrations of all
      republics, regions and territories in the North Caucasus, the leaders of
      national public movements and political parties, and clerics.

      Their conclusions are expected to be brought to the attention of the federal
      government, regional administrative bodies and international humanitarian

      3.   Russian military prepares to take fight to Chechnya’s countryside
      Chris Stephen In Moscow
      The Scotsman (16 December 2000)

      RUSSIA announced yesterday it is raising the stakes in the Chechen war,
      sending troops out of their fortified bases to take the fight to the rebels.

      The move comes amid exasperation in the Kremlin at the failure of the
      military to destroy rebel forces in more than 15 months of fighting.

      Troops and tanks will be sent out in "penny packets" of small groups to take
      up positions in depth across the countryside of this southern province, in a
      bid to end the freedom of movement enjoyed by rebels. Paratroopers will
      return to the southern highlands on search-and-destroy missions in an
      attempt to hit rebel bases.

      "I think this will be the most resolute stage of the anti-terrorist
      operation," said Russia’s chief of staff, General Anatoly Kvashnin. "Such
      garrisons will be stationed in 200 of Chechnya’s 357 towns and villages."

      Gen Kvashnin is a respected figure among many defence analysts here, and the
      move is certainly the one most of them would advocate for an army that is
      serious about getting to grips with a guerrilla foe.

      At present Chechen units can strike at will at the small number of Russian
      bases, and then retreat into the countryside.

      Russia is counting on gaining an advantage as the winter will cause mobility
      problems for the rebels. Cross-country treks will be difficult, as will
      sleeping in the open. And with the loss of foliage cover, rebel units will
      be easier to spot by aircraft.

      Another reason for the move is likely to be concern at the continuing high
      rate of rebel attacks on pro-Moscow Chechen officials.

      But the strategy could backfire - leading to Russian troops being exposed to
      even more ambushes than now.

      Few in the present garrison - whose number is not given - are thought to be
      trained in counter-insurgency operations. Currently, Russia has a single
      motor rifle division of about 20,000 troops in the area, together with
      specialist units and thousands of more lightly armed interior ministry
      troops and police.

      The move comes amid a flurry of rebel activity - rebel units launched 14
      ambushes on Tuesday, and although Russian casualty figures are not
      available, fighting is said to have been fierce.

      Russia also said this week that a key rebel leader, Aslan Maskhadov, the
      former president of Chechnya, was wounded in an attack by Russian commandos
      that left his driver and two bodyguards dead. The London-based Chechen
      Information Centre denied the report.

      The Chechen war has become remarkable only for the lack of military or
      political progress.

      Despite reports of splits between the Chechens and volunteers from the
      Middle East, the rebels remain in the field, able to play a cat-and-mouse
      game with Russian forces, but unable to assemble the firepower for decisive

      Equally, Russia has maintained a hard line diplomatically, insisting the
      rebels drop their demands for independence before any talks begin.

      Few see any sign of the conflict going away. More than 100,000 refugees
      remain in neighbouring provinces. And in Grozny, the military reacted to a
      series of attacks on its soldiers by bulldozing a market that had sprung up
      amid the ruins.

      The province, about the size of Wales, remains in turmoil, with Russia
      recently stung by news of an investigation into how aid funds sent to the
      province have been stolen. Prosecutions against corrupt officials are

      But there is no sign that the poverty or misery of the general population
      will discourage the guerrillas. "The term ‘agony’ is a good description of
      the state of the Chechen nation today," says a defence analyst, Pavel
      Felgenhauer, in the Moscow Times.

      "But desperation will more likely fuel stubborn resistance than surrender."

      The Chechen war was launched by then-prime minister, now president, Vladimir
      Putin, in August last year, following deadly blasts in blocks of flats in
      Moscow and other cities. The army pushed back separatist units in the north
      but only took the capital, Grozny, after a long siege in February. Since
      then rebels, some reportedly based in neighbouring republics, have mounted
      hit-and-run raids on Russian bases.

      4.   Russians hold Chechen over deaths of Britons
      By Fran Abrams, Westminster Correspondent
      Independent (15 December 2000)

      A Chechen rebel accused of the murder of four telecommunications engineers
      from Britain has been arrested, Russia sources said yesterday.

      The Foreign Office said it was trying to confirm reports that the commander,
      named as one of the Akhmadov brothers, had been captured by Russian special

      The brothers, Aslan and Uvai, have also been accused by Russian state
      television of involvement in the kidnapping of two other Britons, Camilla
      Carr and Jon James. Ms Carr and Mr James were released in September 1998
      after more than a year in captivity, but the four engineers were found
      murdered in December 1998.

      Ms Carr said yesterday the reports should be treated with scepticism. She
      said she did not know who her captors were but did not believe they included
      the Akhmadov brothers. "I really don't know who they were. I have been
      waiting for the news to see if there are any photos of them and to see if I
      could recognise them," she said. "In fact I thought the Russians already had
      the Akhmadovs."

      The severed heads of Peter Kennedy, 46, Darren Hickey, 26, and Rudolph
      Petschi, 42, were left by a roadside with that of Stanley Shaw, 58, a
      colleague from New Zealand.

      Russian Public Television reported on Wednesday night that the detention of
      one of the Akhmadov brothers was "a great success." It said: "The Akhmadov
      brothers are involved in the most sensational kidnappings in Chechnya;
      essentially, they control trafficking in human beings."

      The station also accused the Akhmadovs of kidnapping two Polish biologists,
      Zofia Fischer-Malanowska and Ewa-Marchwinska-Wyrwal.

      The Russian news agency Interfax reported separately that one of the
      Akhmadovs had been wounded in a special operation between Argun and Grozny
      on 11 December, but had managed to escape.

      The engineers, who were helping to install a mobile telephone system, were
      seized by gunmen in October 1998 while working in the breakaway Russian
      region for a Surrey-based firm Granger Telecom. Mr Kennedy was contracted to
      British Telecom. Relatives had been optimistic that they would be released
      after a negotiation of a ransom payment, and some reports said they died
      during a failed rescue attempt.

      The Chechen President, Aslan Maskhadov, accused a warlord called Arbi
      Barayev, whose second-in-command is Uvai Akhmadov, of being behind the
      killings. But, at the time, Uvai Akhmadov denied the accusation. "We didn't
      cut off the foreigners' heads," he said.

      A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are aware of these reports and we are
      pursuing them with the Russians. Our embassy has spoken to the Russian
      Interior Ministry but they are not in a position to confirm it and are

      Ms Carr and Mr James were constituents of Paul Keetch, the Liberal Democrat
      MP for Hereford, as was Peter Kennedy. Mr Keetch said he had contacted the
      Foreign Office about the reports, which had been picked up by the BBC's
      monitoring service at Caversham, Berkshire.

      The families of the four engineers, who are considering legal action against
      Granger, were unavailable for comment.

      Mr Petschi was a constituent of Tiverton and Honiton. Angela Browning, the
      Tory MP there, has called for an inquiry into the crisis and has said more
      could have been done to save the four men. She said the Foreign Office had
      failed to act on a report from Russia that a rescue attempt was to be

      5.   Chechen shari'ah court accuses Uzbek head, Chechen mufti of treason
      BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Dec 16, 2000

      Text of report by Kavkaz-Tsentr news agency web site

      16 December: Our correspondent in Ichkeria [Chechnya] reports that the
      shari'ah court under the Supreme Military Majlis ul-Shura of the mojahedin
      has considered the criminal case against [Uzbek President] Islam Karimov. He
      is accused of genocide against Uzbek Muslims, of widespread torture of
      Muslims and stirring up conflicts between Muslims. Several Uzbek citizens,
      who escaped from persecution for their religious beliefs, lodged a complaint
      against Karimov with the shari'ah court. The shari'ah court called on
      everyone who knew about cases of crimes committed by the Karimov regime to
      inform the shari'ah court about them. In addition, the shari'ah court under
      the Supreme Military Majlis ul-Shura of the mojahedin considered the
      criminal case of the "Chechnya muftin" [mufti] Akhmed Shamayev, accusing him
      of high treason, stirring up conflicts between religions and of cooperating
      with the aggressor in carrying out genocide against the Chechen people.
      (Muftin in Arabic means "troublemaker".) Please, if you know anything about
      the evil deeds of this two-faced person, inform the shari'ah court.

      The shari'ah court under the Supreme Military Majlis ul-Shura of the
      mojahedin has issued an official warning to the management of Russia's
      Rosneft company concerning their personal responsibility for the oil which
      has been and will be transported from Ichkeria. The warning says that no
      explanation will be taken into consideration, even if the profit gained is
      spent on charity. The shari'ah court regards Rosneft's actions as grand
      larceny in aggravated circumstances.

      The kazi [judge] of the Supreme Military Majlis ul-Shura of the mojahedin,
      (?Abu Duzhan), has told our correspondent that Chechen shari'ah courts are
      currently considering over 60 criminal cases regarding cooperation between
      national traitors and the occupiers. Dozens of people, who were found guilty
      of treason and cooperation with Russian aggressors, were shot dead over the
      past six months by verdicts of the Chechen shari'ah courts.

      Source: Kavkaz-Tsentr web site, in Russian 16 Dec 00

      6.   Canada could help end Chechen horror
      David Morley
      National Post (16 December 2000)

      CHECHNYA - One year ago, as he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of
      the volunteers of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Canada's Dr. James
      Orbinski made a plea to the Russian government to stop their reign of terror
      in Chechnya. "It is the sick, the old and the infirm who cannot escape,"
      Orbinski said. "If conflicts and wars are an affair of the state, violations
      of humanitarian law, war crimes and crimes against humanity apply to us
      all -- as civil society, as citizens, and as human beings."

      Next week, as the President of Russia meets with the Canadian government,
      the horror in Chechnya continues. The Russian army has installed a state of
      terror, perpetrating acts of violence: arbitrary executions and police
      sweeps, arrests, disappearances and extortion.

      Russian forces have transformed Chechnya into a vast ghetto where every
      civilian is a suspect, and freedom of movement is denied. Even the sick and
      wounded are prevented from passing through military checkpoints.

      After months of intensive bombardment, the people of Chechnya are trapped in
      a confrontation with soldiers whose impunity gives them free rein to act as
      they please.

      MSF teams working with the Chechens have heard countless stories of
      indiscriminate shootings, arbitrary arrests, beatings, disappearances and
      summary executions. One doctor in Urus Martans puts it simply. "It's
      impossible to live here. They arrest people all over the place -- for no
      reason. For young men, it's dangerous to be anywhere on the street. They
      pick them up and take them to army headquarters. They beat them."

      Torture is common. "In the past two months, we've seen a lot of people who
      were previously arrested," says a doctor in Grozny. "They suffer from
      multiple injuries. Fractures, head injuries. Several said they had put some
      kind of metal wires over them and shocked them with electricity. They are so
      scared that most of them come out not talking. They try not to come to the
      hospital, because we register them. None of them file any complaints. They
      don't want to go through that hell again."

      Another surgeon in Urus Martans concurs. "I have seen a lot of them with
      burn marks on their bodies. Usually on the back or on the chest. In some
      cases there were electric burns. They tell me what happened to them. They
      said they take two wires and put them together on their skin. You can tell
      by the marks on their bodies. There is a small burnt point, surrounded by a
      black and blue mark."

      The war has ravaged Chechnya. A surgeon in Grozny describes the conditions
      in one of the cities best hospitals. "We get about 15 severely ill patients
      a day. About a third of them should be hospitalized. But we can't do this.
      We just don't have the necessary conditions here. We don't have the beds. We
      don't have the rooms. We don't even have any toilets."

      Many hospitals and clinics were destroyed by indiscriminate bombing by the
      the Russian military. "When there was the blast last week," recounts another
      surgeon, "21 people with severe injuries were brought here -- people with
      multiple and complex trauma. The blast happened right near Hospital No. 2,
      but that was bombed to Hell, so they had to come here. Eight needed
      immediate abdominal surgery with general anaesthesia. But we already had an
      operation under way when they were brought in. We only have two operating
      tables with anaesthetic equipment. Seven of the eight patients who needed
      urgent and major surgery died."

      "Births are the most dangerous problem," says another doctor. "There is very
      little pre-natal care now. Women wait until there is a crisis to go to the
      hospital. But who is going to risk travelling at night? It's too dangerous."

      This state of terror keeps the international media out of Chechnya. With
      almost no witnesses to these atrocities, the Russian army can carry out its
      unrelenting campaign of terror with impunity. The shocking silence of the
      international community and the reluctance of any Western government to call
      the Russian government to account for their actions against Chechen
      civilians means that we are all complicit in these crimes.

      Next week in Ottawa, Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, is meeting
      with Jean Chrétien and other Canadian government officials. The Prime
      Minister has a historic opportunity to show global leadership and call the
      Russian government to account for the continuing abuse of basic human rights
      and violations of international humanitarian law in Chechnya. Canadians
      should expect nothing less from our government. The horror in Chechnya has
      gone on for far too long. It must be stopped now.

      David Morley is Executive Director of Médecins Sans Frontières Canada. MSF
      has medical relief programs for displaced and injured Chechens in Chechnya,
      Ingushetia and Georgia.

      7.   Terrorists have no human rights: Putin
      Saturday, 16 December, 2000

      MOSCOW (NNI): International terrorists "have no humanitarian rights" as such
      rules and considerations could not be applied to such elements, Russian
      President Vladimir Putin has said, reports PTI.

      "Humanitarian rules cannot be applied in relation to terrorists. "

      "Nobody talks about human rights of Osama Bin Laden, who blasted the US
      embassies. The only rule which applies to them is that they should be
      arrested and put on trial," he told reporters.

      Referring to the situation in Afghanistan, he said the international
      community, including Russia, had failed to "react adequately" to what is
      happening in that country and to the Taliban's refusal to extradite Bin
      Laden for trial, reports PTI.

      On the fall of the Soviet Union and the current Moscow-Washington power
      equation, Putin said it was good for Russia that the US had emerged as the "
      mono-power ". "In this scenario, when the US is no more our foe, we don't
      have to bleed our economy white for the arms race, " he said.

      8.   Chechens attack Russian units, several soldiers killed - Chechen web
      BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Dec 16, 2000

      Text of report by Kavkaz-Tsentr news agency web site on 16 December

      16 December: Mobile Chechen subunits have carried out a series of new
      attacks against the occupiers' military columns. A diversionary group of the
      mojahedin using flame throwers destroyed an Ural lorry carrying soldiers in
      the city of Urus-Martan. As a result of the fire, three Russian aggressors
      were killed. The vehicle was destroyed. Fighters from Ramzan Akhmadov's
      subunit attacked a blockhouse of the enemy in the Avtorkhanovskiy district
      in Dzhokhar [Groznyy] and a fierce shootout ensued for an hour and a half.
      Both sides actively used machine guns, underslung grenade throwers and flame
      throwers. A group of Chechen fighters knocked out an armoured personnel
      carrier of the enemy near the Novaya station in the Staropromyslovskiy
      district of Dzhokhar. Our correspondent reported that diversionary
      detachments from Gen Baudi Bakuyev's subunits took part in the operations.
      After the general's death, he was replaced by Amir Kyura, commander of the
      Nurulla jamaat. Chechen detachments fired on Russian troops' position in the
      settlement of Chernorechye and a blockhouse near the Okruzhnaya station.
      Russians incurred losses in both cases. The Chechen side reports that nine
      occupiers were killed and at least 17 were wounded in the shootouts.

      Local battles and ferocious shootouts also took place in Nozhay-Yurtovskiy
      and Vedenskiy Districts of Chechnya over the past 24 hours. A mobile
      detachment of Amir Abudar attacked the aggressors' armoured scout group not
      far from the settlement of Shirdi-mokhk. The mojahedin opened fire on the
      enemy from grenade launchers. A vehicle of infantry was knocked out by the
      first shot. The other armoured vehicles quickly withdrew as a result of the
      mojahedin's fire to a temporary place of deployment of the aggressors'
      paratroopers near the Yalkhoy-mokhk village. The whole crew of the infantry
      vehicle was annihilated in the fighting.

      A Chechen diversionary group exploded an armoured personnel carrier of the
      enemy in the Vedeno district centre. After the explosion, the mojahedin
      fired on the aggressors from submachine guns. The Chechen side reported that
      two Russians soldiers were killed. An infantry vehicle and an Ural vehicle
      with five soldiers were destroyed in Gudermes. The Chechen side also
      reported that a military base of the Russian troops in Shatoyevskiy District
      of Chechnya near the Borzoy village came under fire. The mojahedin attacked
      the aggressors' camp for two hours using home-made NURS C-5 and C-8 rockets.
      Mortars and mountain cannons were also used. A reconnaissance group reported
      that as a result of firing on the occupiers' military camp, seven occupiers
      were killed and about 20 were wounded. At least 10 vehicles and an armoured
      personnel carrier were burnt or seriously damaged.

      According to a reliable source, nine residents of the villages of
      Germenchug, Mesker-Yurt and the neighbouring Tsatsan-Yurt were brutally
      tortured by the Russian occupiers four days ago. After the lifting of
      blockade in Argun and Mesker-Yurt on Thursday morning [14 December], people
      discovered nine mutilated bodies. Some of them were identified by the local
      residents. It was reported that arms and legs of almost all the dead people
      were twisted, their ribs and fingers broken. The Chechen side reported
      earlier that Russian soldiers plundered the market near the road to the
      Mesker-Yurt village. While looting the market, the occupiers shot dead four
      traders and wounded about 15 people.

      Source: Kavkaz-Tsentr web site, in Russian 0650 gmt 16 Dec 00

      9.   Interview from Ahmed Zakaev
      Chechenpress (16 December 2000)

      Interview of the Vice-premier, the Deputy Head of the Cabinet of the ChRI
      Ahmed Zakaev to the State News Agency "Chechenpress".

      Could you tell us please, how would you characterize today's
      military-political situation in the ChRI?

      In my opinion, in the ChRI there has come such moment, when the military
      initiative has completely passed to the Chechen Armed Forces. Tactics of
      guerrilla war imposed on the Russian occupational army completely justified
      itself. Arranging ambushes, planting mines on routes of the Russian military
      columns, Chechen fighters at the minimal losses destroy each day hundreds of
      Russian aggressors, blowing up dozens of armored vehicles of the enemy.

      As to the political situation in the ChRI, then here it is unequivocally
      possible to say, that the latest unprecedented in terms of cruelty military
      campaign of the Russian Federation against the Chechen State has finished,
      just as predicted by military experts of many countries of the world, as a
      complete failure. The government of V.Putin perfectly realizes all this and
      consequently, they search for a way out from this military-political
      deadlock, where they have driven themselves. The only way and the only exit
      from this situation the military-political leadership of the ChRI sees in
      political negotiations between the Presidents of two struggling states,
      which is what the President of the ChRI A.Maskhadov recently declared in the

      The earlier this will take place, the better for Russia and for Russian
      mothers, who keep up with events in the ChRI with alarm.

      Mr. Zakaev, what could you tell about the reaction of the world community to
      genocide in Chechnya?

      Indeed, what today is done in the ChRI by the Russian military, many human
      rights organizations have named as genocide, i.e. purposeful, and regular
      destruction of the Chechen ethos. I and our people are pleased with a rigid,
      truthful evaluation on the part of human rights organizations such as "
      Doctors without borders ", " International Amnesty ", "Memorial" etc., which
      despite of serious dangers, risking their lives, collect the numerous facts
      of genocide of the Chechen people by the Russian army.

      At the same time the UN, OSCE, Council of Europe, in my opinion, should have
      taken more effective measures against the Russian Federation with the
      purpose of forcing its government to abide by international conventions
      signed by them. However, the President and the Government of the ChRI hope,
      that the world community will rise for protection of universal values in the
      Chechen State.

      During the answer to this question I would like to officially inform, that
      in the past few days SCUD missiles were used against peaceful populations in
      Vedeno, Sharoy and Cheberloy districts of the ChRI resulting numerous
      victims among civilians. Hence, the nation-murder continues.

      Mr. Zakaev, in Russian media rumors about participation of the Chechen
      refugees in kidnappings on territory of Georgia are persistently
      exaggerated. What can you tell on this matter?

      In connection with the provocations, which have become frequent recently in
      relation to the Chechen refugees living in the Republic of Georgia from the
      Russian special services, I declare, that the murder of a member of the
      Radical Party the citizen of Italy Antonio Russo and the kidnappings of the
      Spanish businessmen which followed - are part of one circuit of provocations
      by the Russian Federation in relation to the Chechen people and the Chechen
      State, with the purpose to confront two brotherly nations. In this
      connection, we are examining last declaration of the President of Republic
      of Georgia Eduard Shevardnadze as weighed and politically mature, actually
      removing from the Chechen citizens accusation of kidnappings on territory of
      Georgia invented in the studies of special services of the Russian

      The centuries-old friendship of two Caucasian peoples has passed many tests
      therefore we are able to distinguish our true enemies, who have encroached
      on our freedom and independence. The Government of the CHRI and the Chechen
      people are sure, that in spite of anything, peoples and the governments of
      two sovereign states will not give in to provocation from the outside.

      From its part the Government of the ChRI hopes, that the international
      organizations will take the given facts under control to give a legal and
      political assessment to crimes set forth above.

      And in the conclusion Mr. Zakaev, what would you tell to the Chechen people?

      I praise the courage and heroism, steadfastness and bravery of our
      distressful people. And at this difficult moment for its history I am
      convinced, that once again in their bloody history the Chechen people will
      cheer up and will prove to all world, that they are able not only to fight
      for their Freedom but also to build a peaceful state.

      [DISCLAIMER: The selection of articles posted in this e-newsletter does not
      necessary reflect the views nor endorsement of the compiler. They are
      submitted in the interest of public discourse. Please submit all
      inquiries/questions to Ralph Davis at
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