Russia’s prosecutor general arrived in Chechnya. Of course, this is not
his first visit to the republic, but for some reason mass media have
decided “to make a stress” on it. Most probably, the goal of the visit
is what really matters. Russia’s prosecutor general Vladimir Ustinov
described it clearly and unambiguously: I am going to Chechnya to listen
to a report on the investigation (attention, a quote!) into “the
abductions of the so-called civilians”…
Such frank statement surprises and raises hopes simultaneously. From the
one hand, the prosecutor (who urged to legalize taking “counter
hostages”) as if admits the fact of disappearances, from the other hand,
he clearly states that he cannot be certain whether wrong people
disappear… For example, relatives of the Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov.
It is unknown how many people “have disappeared” during “the
counterterrorist” cleaning up operation in Chechnya. The puppet
structures give different “official figures.” Some of them say about
1,500 people have disappeared since 1999, others say – 1,500 disappeared
only last year… Human rights activists say about at least 5,000 cases,
noting these are only documented figures and cannot be considered full.
And if judging by reports of the same human rights activists monitoring
about 25% of the territory of the republic, the dynamics of abductions
hasn’t changed for years. The most interesting fact is that federal
troops and puppet force structures are said to be behind most
“abductions.” Of course, they deny all such charges, but what about
numerous facts and witnesses?
It is much easier to deal with human rights activists (they “have
disappeared” regularly in Chechnya). But this method does not always
work. “Official” human rights activists, whose work is to monitor the
situation with human rights and to tell stories “about the great
progress in this sphere” to political tourists from Europe, failed to
deal with relatives trying to find out the fate of their family members,
and now their role has become episodic and insignificant.
For example, if previously the names of these “human rights champions”
were well known (Kalamanov, then Sultygov), now only experts can say who
is “in charge” of this sensitive (to Moscow) issue. The situation has
come out of control and Ramzan Kadyrov (his gangs are said to be behind
most abductions) has recently threatened to suit human rights activists.
Of course, the situation is unlikely to end in court: a trial (even in
the Basman court) means investigation and publicity. Moscow cannot allow it.
And now Ustinov is in Chechnya. Why now and only because of the
sensational relatives of Aslan Maskhadov? We know that Ustinov held an
unpleasant meeting with “vice-premier” Kadyrov on this issue. Mass media
reported that even his “place of living” had been checked. The result of
such examination was quite peculiar: “nothing was found in a
boiler-house.” However, everyone on Chechnya knows about a personal
prison of the clan of Kadyrovs. The “previously abducted” and those who
managed to break free can provide more details on this issue. Will
Ustinov talk to them? Unlikely.
His tasks are different. His main goal is to document “great concerns
about the issue” and later, at “the March round-table on Chechnya,” to
proudly announce that “certain job has been done in this direction.” It
may be that Ustinov’s visit is the beginning of a serious attack on
Ramzan Kadyrov whose actions have begun to worry Moscow. Another
variant, more customary to the Kremlin, is possible: Ustinov will spend
some time at the Russian military base at Khankala, will listen “to a
court human rights activist” and will blame rebel fighters for all the
abductions. And then the idea to legalize taking “counter-hostages”
among “relatives of terrorists” will become topical again. All that will
allow the Hero of Russia Ramzan Kadyrov to take breath and calm down.
The Chechen Times