CT: What happened in Baku? (N.Banzhik)
- The Chechen Times
What happened in Baku?
Judging by conflicting reports, we only know that from October 14
through October 16 houses of Chechen refugees in Baku were raided. Some
reports say these arrests were “not massive,” “only those suspected of
grave crimes” were detained, they were “treated politely,” the raiders
“wore no masks” and in general “Chechen refugees in Azerbaijan are in
good graces.” This is the opinion of Vakha Tourpukhanov, a
representative of “the Chechen Representation.”
Even without any further information the following questions arise.
1. Why were “those suspected of committing grave crimes” pick out by the
ethnic criteria? Recognizing “an inborn bent” of Chechens for robbery?!
Thus, there are reasons to investigate what happened – charging the
Azerbaijan authorities with a racist (ethnically biased) approach to
2. What is “a favorable” attitude towards Chechen refugees in
Azerbaijan, if in accordance with numerous reports received previously
they are in fact deprived of the possibility to find a job and are left
to the mercy of fate?
At the same time, there reports of different sorts.
Below is a letter received from a former inmate of a Russian prison. He
did not fight, he even did not support the Resistance. He was arrested
three years ago on the way to classes at the Grozny University. Now he
is dragging out a miserable existence in Baku…
“Armed people arrived in the apartment where I stay, with undue
familiarity, at night they frightened all the children, my wife and me.
When our neighbors began panicking, they left. And today they came
again. fortunately, I survived, they seized my documents and told my
wife my whereabouts, I am shocked, I am afraid for my life. Later I
found out a general check up of the Chechens staying in Azerbaijan had
began. It seems 13 people were seized, there are rumors they can be
extradited to Russia. I do not live at home, I sleep outside… My wife is
frightened, she cannot stand up. I beg you, write, call, do anything you
can! I cannot understand what I did wrong? I did nothing wrong.”
We shall add that the man is still under surveillance. When he came to
meet a lawyer at the Baku UNHCR office he was told: “You have nothing to
be afraid of, the necessary number of Chechens has been taken.” (!!!)
I think, we shall await further development of the events. But even
today the main point is clear: Chechen refugees in Baku do not feel
themselves relatively safe. This must be a signal for all the
international organizations dealing with refugees: the resettlement of
Chechen refugees to more safe countries must be sped up.
Below is an article about the situation of Chechen refugees in Baku – by
The shame of Azerbaijan
Sometimes in Azerbaijan Chechens are being reminded of early 90’s, when
D. Dudayev was in power, when trains heading to Azerbaijan were robbed.
If these facts took place, with FSB behind them, there were few Chechens
among those robbers. At the same time no one in Azerbaijan wants to
remember that during D. Dudayev’s presidency Chechens gave shelter to
hundreds of Azerbaijani refugees from Karabagh. They were accommodated
for free in dormitories, hotels, apartments in Grozny, also they were
offered free meals. Later refugees from Karabagh were offered jobs at a
farm in one of the districts of the Chechen Republic.
From the beginning of the war in 1999, no more than 10,000 Chechen
refugees flooded to Azerbaijan. They live in much worse conditions. In
Azerbaijan Chechen refugees pay for housing per day as much as
Azerbaijani citizens pay for the whole month. A month rent for Chechen
refugees in Azerbaijan is approximately 5fold higher than an average
wage in Azerbaijan! It is noteworthy than the only source of income for
Chechen refugees – is an allowance of $60-$100 for three months,
depending on the number of family members – with three-month-long
interruptions from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, maximum for
500 people. At the same time, judging by the UN data, the number of
Chechen refugees is at least 10fild higher. But even these 500 people
can pay only for housing with this money.
The families which receive no money must survive on their own, leave or
die. Chechen refugees can hardly find a job in Azerbaijan. Over the
recent five years, those who have failed to move to a third country
returned to die to Chechnya. During this time about 100 Chechen newborns
have died in Azerbaijan from cold.
Over the recent five years Chechens have committed no terrorist act or
an organized crime in Azerbaijan. No Azerbaijanis have been killed by
Chechens, whereas many Chechens have died from the hand of locals.
However, the fear before Russia turned out to be stronger in Azerbaijan
than the feeling of gratitude. Even though in Russia xenophobia is more
aimed at Azerbaijanis than Chechens. At Moscow metro stations we can
often see the following sign: “Azeris out from Russia!”
Shortly before the meeting of the two presidents, I. Aliyev and V. Putin
in Moscow, local law enforcement bodies raided the apartments where
Chechens stayed in Baku and detained them. The detainees, including
women, as of October 14, have remained in custody, the authorities are
trying to charge them with terrorism. And the most surprising thing is
that the beginning of these actions coincided with the beginning of
Ramadan when believers are to show an overall forgiveness. This is the
shame of Azerbaijan.
According to an eyewitness, law enforcers planted live cartridges on the
Chechen detainees to make their cases desperate. This is how
international terrorism is being fought. No comment!
Sometimes residents of the post-Soviet space, including Azerbaijan,
remember the old times with nostalgia. But they do not want to notice
what is happening in today’s Russia. Fighting against the USSR’s
successor – Russia, Chechens bleed and protect not only their freedom,
but freedom of all the former Soviet republics. If Chechens give up
their struggle, the mad armada of the Russian military is likely to move
south and then Azerbaijan will lose its sovereignty. Azerbaijan’s
sovereignty depends directly on the firmness of the Chechen Resistance.
There have been no voluntary accessions to Russia.