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Rights group releases pictures alleging Russian torture of Chechens

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    Assalamu alaikum, Rights group releases pictures alleging Russian torture of Chechens http://sg.news.yahoo.com/010305/1/jc5v.html MOSCOW, March 5 (AFP) - Human
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 5, 2001
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      Assalamu'alaikum,

      Rights group releases pictures alleging Russian torture of Chechens

      http://sg.news.yahoo.com/010305/1/jc5v.html

      MOSCOW, March 5 (AFP) - Human rights activists displayed photographs
      Monday that suggested Russian troops tortured dozens of Chechens in the
      war-torn republic before executing them and throwing them into a mass
      grave.

      Several photographs showed bodies with skin peeled off their faces, while
      others had teeth pulled out. Many were blindfolded and had hands tied
      behind their backs. Others had their ears cut off.

      Almost all had bullet holes in their skulls.

      The activists said Russian prosecutors have confirmed that some of those
      discovered in the mass grave had previously been detained by federal
      troops during "cleansing operations" of Chechen villages and had later
      disappeared without a trace.

      The pictures were so graphic that several hardened Russian reporters ran
      sobbing out of the Moscow press conference room where the photographs were
      displayed, while AFP decided only a few were suitable for publication.

      But highlighting how divisive the 17-month war has become, many others
      shook their heads in disgust, refusing to believe that the pictures were
      real.

      "This could be a vision of what Russia will become in the future if we do
      not re-think this war," said Alexander Sokolov of Memorial, which was
      founded by Soviet-era dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner Andrei
      Sakharov.

      The photographs were taken by activists from the rights group early last
      week. Memorial said the bodies were discovered in a mass grave near the
      Russian military base Khankala on the outskirts of the rebel capital
      Grozny.

      The Russian human rights group said at least 50 bodies of Chechens have
      been recovered so far.

      It said other such mass graves also existed near the southern Chechen city
      Urus-Martan and the settlement Tangi-Chu.

      "It is hard to argue that the Chechen rebels did this themselves because
      they were killed after the Russian forces took Grozny and Khankala," in
      February 2000, said Oleg Petrov of Memorial.

      Russian prosecutors have suggested that the bodies were those of civilians
      killed by rebel guerrillas who refused to join the fight against the
      federal troops.

      The groups said prosecutors are reluctant to follow up on locals' reports
      that other such earth pits are being discovered regularly.

      "More and more graves are being discovered of people who the Russians
      first arrested and who then went missing," said Memorial's Petrov.

      "We saw the bodies that had been brought in for identification," he said.

      "There were three women among them. Two of the men had their left ears cut
      off. Nearly all had been blindfolded and had their hands tied."

      Memorial's executive director Tatyana Kasatkina added: "These bodies are
      evidence of war crimes committed by federal troops."

      The group said that at least 2,000 Chechens who were officially registered
      as detainees have gone missing since the start of the war.

      But they said the true figure of those executed by the Russians may never
      be known.

      "I saw all three bodies" that were identified after the grave was
      discovered, Said-Rakhman Musayev, the father of one of the dead men, told
      Memorial.

      "He was executed. There are bullet holes in his heart and lungs. And all
      three have a final shot in their head," Musayev said.

      Memorial claimed that Russian soldiers were now taking bribes to allow the
      surviving relatives of the victims to take the bodies and re-bury them at
      home.

      However, the chief Russian prosecutor in Chechnya refused suggestions that
      federal troops had committed war crimes. Vsevolod Chernov said the
      Chechens were either killed during battle or executed by their own side.

      "The majority of the dead were probably rebels," said Chernov, pointing to
      the type of clothes found on the corpses, and adding: "Many of them are in
      internationally-made camouflage and Turkish underwear."

      The Russian authorities have long accused the Chechen separatists of
      obtaining supplies and recruits from Islamic organizations in countries
      such as Turkey.

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