Daily Archives: January 29, 2007

Status Report on Human Rights in Russia: Prisoners’ Skin Stripped with Pliers, Russians Spied on Everywhere

Prima News Agency, a leading source of information about human rights abuses in Russia, reports:

Prisoners Skin Stripped with Pliers

FRANCE, Strasbourg. On January 18, the European Court for Human Rights found Russia guilty of torture in Chechnya, reported the organization “Legal Initiative on Russia”, which represented the complainants – brothers Adam and Arbi Chitayev. Russia must pay them 35 thousand Euros each for moral damage and 7629,90 Euros for judicial expenses.

The court established that the Chitayevs were subjected to torture and that the Russian authorities did not properly investigate their statement about this. “I am satisfied by the decision, but I worry, that what happened to me can happen to my relatives who still live in Russia,” stated the Arbi Chitayev, who now lives in Germany.

On April 12, 2000, Russian soldiers detained the brothers in their house in the village of Achkhoy-Martan in Chechnya and took them to the police, where they were accused of being rebel- separatists and subjected to severe torture. Later they were to taken to the SIZO (remand prison) in Chernokozov in the northwest of Chechnya, where they were also subjected to torture and brutal treatment.

They handcuffed the brothers to chairs and beat them; they used electric shock on different parts of their bodies; they made them stand at attention for long periods of time; they twisted their hands; they beat them with rubber batons and plastic bottles filled with water; they suffocated them with cellophane packets, Scotch tape, and gas masks; they set dogs on them; they stripped pieces of their skin with pliers.

The brothers were freed on October 5, 2000, after almost six months in prison. The criminal case against was dropped on January 20, 2001, but then renewed. In the end, they were not charged.

The Strasbourg Court did not examine the brothers’ compliant of poor conditions in prison, since their application was too late. The court also did not examine statements about intrusion and the illegal seizure of their property during searches of their house, since they did not complain about this to Russian authorities.

The application of torture in the Chernokozov SIZO is documented by the human rights organization “Human Rights Watch” and the European Committee Against Torture. INJuly 2001, the Committee expressed deep regret in connection with the absence of investigations of complaints about torture and brutal treatment in Chernokozov.

«We have received numerous appeals for judicial help from victims of torture in Chechnya; Russian and Chechen authorities are now obligated to relate to this problem and to make a serious decision to put an end to this monstrous practice,» stated the chairman of the administration of “Legal Initiative on Russia” Jan Ter Laak.

In conclusions and the recommendations made at a its 37th UN session in November 2006, the UN Committee Against Torture expressed concern in connection with “accounts of unofficial prisons in the North Caucasus and the information that prisoners there undergo torture and severe, inhuman or degrading treatment”.

To date, Russian authorities have refused to register “Legal Initiative on Russia”. The director of “Legal Initiative” in Nazran, Arsen Sakalov reported to a correspondent of PRIMA-News that this week the organization again presented its documents for registration in Russia and should receive an answer in two weeks from the Federal Registration Service.

If Slavs in Russia proper think they are safe from the Kremlin’s abuses during the neo-Soviet crackdown, they should think again. Prima reports:

The Revival of Political Monitoring

One of the good intentions of Perestroika, the liquidation of political monitoring in Russia, has disappeared into oblivion. In 1991, when the “great powerful Soviet Union” began to tear at the seams, and the fate of the KGB was uncertain, leaders of Perestroika and chiefs of state security hurried to assure Russian society and political activists that state security services would no longer conduct political monitoring. At first it seemed that this would be so. Although even then it was explained that even with former dissidents by no means everything was at an end – some investigations remained in operational development.

For a long time “work” on political opposition, if it was being conducted, was sufficiently unnoticeable. The Administration of Constitutional Safety of the FSB of Russia, created in 1998, did not advertise its activities. Data about political organizations and their activists did not become a weapon for suppression of the opposition, which acted and still acts by legal methods within the framework of the Constitution.

Today, the situation has changed considerably. Collection of information about the opposition is conducted no longer only in the interests of judicial- investigation organs and not only for reports about their position in the country. Information is now assembled and analyzed for urgent operational measures. And these measures concern not only combating terrorism, but also “political extremism”, as colleagues of the Special Services understand it. The UFSB in Moscow is combating terrorism and fighting political extremism.

The traditions and methods of the 5th Administration of the KGB, created in the USSR for dealing with dissidents, are being revived before our eyes. Early on the morning of December 5, colleagues of the KGB, with the support of police and Komsomol officers blocked in the apartments of dissidents, who according to data available to State Security Agents, were planning to go to the Pushkinskaya area at 6:00pm to participate in a silent demonstration of solidarity with political prisoners. Those who were not found at home were snatched from the crowd as they approached the Pushkinskaya area. On December 16 of this year, some demonstrators approaching Triumfalnaya Ploshad for the “March of Disagreement”, were stopped and taken away by police based on absurd and fabricated charges.

Who precisely, what “law-enforcement” service, could know the potential participants in an oppositional meeting? Who tracks the movement of buses headed to Moscow for participation in such a meeting? Who manages information throughout the entire country and operationally makes absolutely unlawful decisions about detentions? There is no doubt that it is not the police, who would never have sufficient opportunity, coordination, or determination to so roughly and publicly act in spite of the law. No. It is the service which stands above the law and which does not doubt its impunity that is occupied in such actions. There are no doubts whatsoever about the fact that the heirs to the 5th Administration of the KGB work in today’s FSB.

It goes without saying that political monitoring in one form or another always existed in Russia. However, today the relation of the authorities to such monitoring has changed; shadowing political organizations has ceased to threaten scandal. It has become distinctly evident that the methods which the Soviet regime used to punish dissidents have been adapted now for the suppression of opposition. It is shameless, it is demonstrable, and it is happening on a large scale.

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Status Report on Human Rights in Russia: Prisoners’ Skin Stripped with Pliers, Russians Spied on Everywhere

Prima News Agency, a leading source of information about human rights abuses in Russia, reports:

Prisoners Skin Stripped with Pliers

FRANCE, Strasbourg. On January 18, the European Court for Human Rights found Russia guilty of torture in Chechnya, reported the organization “Legal Initiative on Russia”, which represented the complainants – brothers Adam and Arbi Chitayev. Russia must pay them 35 thousand Euros each for moral damage and 7629,90 Euros for judicial expenses.

The court established that the Chitayevs were subjected to torture and that the Russian authorities did not properly investigate their statement about this. “I am satisfied by the decision, but I worry, that what happened to me can happen to my relatives who still live in Russia,” stated the Arbi Chitayev, who now lives in Germany.

On April 12, 2000, Russian soldiers detained the brothers in their house in the village of Achkhoy-Martan in Chechnya and took them to the police, where they were accused of being rebel- separatists and subjected to severe torture. Later they were to taken to the SIZO (remand prison) in Chernokozov in the northwest of Chechnya, where they were also subjected to torture and brutal treatment.

They handcuffed the brothers to chairs and beat them; they used electric shock on different parts of their bodies; they made them stand at attention for long periods of time; they twisted their hands; they beat them with rubber batons and plastic bottles filled with water; they suffocated them with cellophane packets, Scotch tape, and gas masks; they set dogs on them; they stripped pieces of their skin with pliers.

The brothers were freed on October 5, 2000, after almost six months in prison. The criminal case against was dropped on January 20, 2001, but then renewed. In the end, they were not charged.

The Strasbourg Court did not examine the brothers’ compliant of poor conditions in prison, since their application was too late. The court also did not examine statements about intrusion and the illegal seizure of their property during searches of their house, since they did not complain about this to Russian authorities.

The application of torture in the Chernokozov SIZO is documented by the human rights organization “Human Rights Watch” and the European Committee Against Torture. INJuly 2001, the Committee expressed deep regret in connection with the absence of investigations of complaints about torture and brutal treatment in Chernokozov.

«We have received numerous appeals for judicial help from victims of torture in Chechnya; Russian and Chechen authorities are now obligated to relate to this problem and to make a serious decision to put an end to this monstrous practice,» stated the chairman of the administration of “Legal Initiative on Russia” Jan Ter Laak.

In conclusions and the recommendations made at a its 37th UN session in November 2006, the UN Committee Against Torture expressed concern in connection with “accounts of unofficial prisons in the North Caucasus and the information that prisoners there undergo torture and severe, inhuman or degrading treatment”.

To date, Russian authorities have refused to register “Legal Initiative on Russia”. The director of “Legal Initiative” in Nazran, Arsen Sakalov reported to a correspondent of PRIMA-News that this week the organization again presented its documents for registration in Russia and should receive an answer in two weeks from the Federal Registration Service.

If Slavs in Russia proper think they are safe from the Kremlin’s abuses during the neo-Soviet crackdown, they should think again. Prima reports:

The Revival of Political Monitoring

One of the good intentions of Perestroika, the liquidation of political monitoring in Russia, has disappeared into oblivion. In 1991, when the “great powerful Soviet Union” began to tear at the seams, and the fate of the KGB was uncertain, leaders of Perestroika and chiefs of state security hurried to assure Russian society and political activists that state security services would no longer conduct political monitoring. At first it seemed that this would be so. Although even then it was explained that even with former dissidents by no means everything was at an end – some investigations remained in operational development.

For a long time “work” on political opposition, if it was being conducted, was sufficiently unnoticeable. The Administration of Constitutional Safety of the FSB of Russia, created in 1998, did not advertise its activities. Data about political organizations and their activists did not become a weapon for suppression of the opposition, which acted and still acts by legal methods within the framework of the Constitution.

Today, the situation has changed considerably. Collection of information about the opposition is conducted no longer only in the interests of judicial- investigation organs and not only for reports about their position in the country. Information is now assembled and analyzed for urgent operational measures. And these measures concern not only combating terrorism, but also “political extremism”, as colleagues of the Special Services understand it. The UFSB in Moscow is combating terrorism and fighting political extremism.

The traditions and methods of the 5th Administration of the KGB, created in the USSR for dealing with dissidents, are being revived before our eyes. Early on the morning of December 5, colleagues of the KGB, with the support of police and Komsomol officers blocked in the apartments of dissidents, who according to data available to State Security Agents, were planning to go to the Pushkinskaya area at 6:00pm to participate in a silent demonstration of solidarity with political prisoners. Those who were not found at home were snatched from the crowd as they approached the Pushkinskaya area. On December 16 of this year, some demonstrators approaching Triumfalnaya Ploshad for the “March of Disagreement”, were stopped and taken away by police based on absurd and fabricated charges.

Who precisely, what “law-enforcement” service, could know the potential participants in an oppositional meeting? Who tracks the movement of buses headed to Moscow for participation in such a meeting? Who manages information throughout the entire country and operationally makes absolutely unlawful decisions about detentions? There is no doubt that it is not the police, who would never have sufficient opportunity, coordination, or determination to so roughly and publicly act in spite of the law. No. It is the service which stands above the law and which does not doubt its impunity that is occupied in such actions. There are no doubts whatsoever about the fact that the heirs to the 5th Administration of the KGB work in today’s FSB.

It goes without saying that political monitoring in one form or another always existed in Russia. However, today the relation of the authorities to such monitoring has changed; shadowing political organizations has ceased to threaten scandal. It has become distinctly evident that the methods which the Soviet regime used to punish dissidents have been adapted now for the suppression of opposition. It is shameless, it is demonstrable, and it is happening on a large scale.

Status Report on Human Rights in Russia: Prisoners’ Skin Stripped with Pliers, Russians Spied on Everywhere

Prima News Agency, a leading source of information about human rights abuses in Russia, reports:

Prisoners Skin Stripped with Pliers

FRANCE, Strasbourg. On January 18, the European Court for Human Rights found Russia guilty of torture in Chechnya, reported the organization “Legal Initiative on Russia”, which represented the complainants – brothers Adam and Arbi Chitayev. Russia must pay them 35 thousand Euros each for moral damage and 7629,90 Euros for judicial expenses.

The court established that the Chitayevs were subjected to torture and that the Russian authorities did not properly investigate their statement about this. “I am satisfied by the decision, but I worry, that what happened to me can happen to my relatives who still live in Russia,” stated the Arbi Chitayev, who now lives in Germany.

On April 12, 2000, Russian soldiers detained the brothers in their house in the village of Achkhoy-Martan in Chechnya and took them to the police, where they were accused of being rebel- separatists and subjected to severe torture. Later they were to taken to the SIZO (remand prison) in Chernokozov in the northwest of Chechnya, where they were also subjected to torture and brutal treatment.

They handcuffed the brothers to chairs and beat them; they used electric shock on different parts of their bodies; they made them stand at attention for long periods of time; they twisted their hands; they beat them with rubber batons and plastic bottles filled with water; they suffocated them with cellophane packets, Scotch tape, and gas masks; they set dogs on them; they stripped pieces of their skin with pliers.

The brothers were freed on October 5, 2000, after almost six months in prison. The criminal case against was dropped on January 20, 2001, but then renewed. In the end, they were not charged.

The Strasbourg Court did not examine the brothers’ compliant of poor conditions in prison, since their application was too late. The court also did not examine statements about intrusion and the illegal seizure of their property during searches of their house, since they did not complain about this to Russian authorities.

The application of torture in the Chernokozov SIZO is documented by the human rights organization “Human Rights Watch” and the European Committee Against Torture. INJuly 2001, the Committee expressed deep regret in connection with the absence of investigations of complaints about torture and brutal treatment in Chernokozov.

«We have received numerous appeals for judicial help from victims of torture in Chechnya; Russian and Chechen authorities are now obligated to relate to this problem and to make a serious decision to put an end to this monstrous practice,» stated the chairman of the administration of “Legal Initiative on Russia” Jan Ter Laak.

In conclusions and the recommendations made at a its 37th UN session in November 2006, the UN Committee Against Torture expressed concern in connection with “accounts of unofficial prisons in the North Caucasus and the information that prisoners there undergo torture and severe, inhuman or degrading treatment”.

To date, Russian authorities have refused to register “Legal Initiative on Russia”. The director of “Legal Initiative” in Nazran, Arsen Sakalov reported to a correspondent of PRIMA-News that this week the organization again presented its documents for registration in Russia and should receive an answer in two weeks from the Federal Registration Service.

If Slavs in Russia proper think they are safe from the Kremlin’s abuses during the neo-Soviet crackdown, they should think again. Prima reports:

The Revival of Political Monitoring

One of the good intentions of Perestroika, the liquidation of political monitoring in Russia, has disappeared into oblivion. In 1991, when the “great powerful Soviet Union” began to tear at the seams, and the fate of the KGB was uncertain, leaders of Perestroika and chiefs of state security hurried to assure Russian society and political activists that state security services would no longer conduct political monitoring. At first it seemed that this would be so. Although even then it was explained that even with former dissidents by no means everything was at an end – some investigations remained in operational development.

For a long time “work” on political opposition, if it was being conducted, was sufficiently unnoticeable. The Administration of Constitutional Safety of the FSB of Russia, created in 1998, did not advertise its activities. Data about political organizations and their activists did not become a weapon for suppression of the opposition, which acted and still acts by legal methods within the framework of the Constitution.

Today, the situation has changed considerably. Collection of information about the opposition is conducted no longer only in the interests of judicial- investigation organs and not only for reports about their position in the country. Information is now assembled and analyzed for urgent operational measures. And these measures concern not only combating terrorism, but also “political extremism”, as colleagues of the Special Services understand it. The UFSB in Moscow is combating terrorism and fighting political extremism.

The traditions and methods of the 5th Administration of the KGB, created in the USSR for dealing with dissidents, are being revived before our eyes. Early on the morning of December 5, colleagues of the KGB, with the support of police and Komsomol officers blocked in the apartments of dissidents, who according to data available to State Security Agents, were planning to go to the Pushkinskaya area at 6:00pm to participate in a silent demonstration of solidarity with political prisoners. Those who were not found at home were snatched from the crowd as they approached the Pushkinskaya area. On December 16 of this year, some demonstrators approaching Triumfalnaya Ploshad for the “March of Disagreement”, were stopped and taken away by police based on absurd and fabricated charges.

Who precisely, what “law-enforcement” service, could know the potential participants in an oppositional meeting? Who tracks the movement of buses headed to Moscow for participation in such a meeting? Who manages information throughout the entire country and operationally makes absolutely unlawful decisions about detentions? There is no doubt that it is not the police, who would never have sufficient opportunity, coordination, or determination to so roughly and publicly act in spite of the law. No. It is the service which stands above the law and which does not doubt its impunity that is occupied in such actions. There are no doubts whatsoever about the fact that the heirs to the 5th Administration of the KGB work in today’s FSB.

It goes without saying that political monitoring in one form or another always existed in Russia. However, today the relation of the authorities to such monitoring has changed; shadowing political organizations has ceased to threaten scandal. It has become distinctly evident that the methods which the Soviet regime used to punish dissidents have been adapted now for the suppression of opposition. It is shameless, it is demonstrable, and it is happening on a large scale.

Status Report on Human Rights in Russia: Prisoners’ Skin Stripped with Pliers, Russians Spied on Everywhere

Prima News Agency, a leading source of information about human rights abuses in Russia, reports:

Prisoners Skin Stripped with Pliers

FRANCE, Strasbourg. On January 18, the European Court for Human Rights found Russia guilty of torture in Chechnya, reported the organization “Legal Initiative on Russia”, which represented the complainants – brothers Adam and Arbi Chitayev. Russia must pay them 35 thousand Euros each for moral damage and 7629,90 Euros for judicial expenses.

The court established that the Chitayevs were subjected to torture and that the Russian authorities did not properly investigate their statement about this. “I am satisfied by the decision, but I worry, that what happened to me can happen to my relatives who still live in Russia,” stated the Arbi Chitayev, who now lives in Germany.

On April 12, 2000, Russian soldiers detained the brothers in their house in the village of Achkhoy-Martan in Chechnya and took them to the police, where they were accused of being rebel- separatists and subjected to severe torture. Later they were to taken to the SIZO (remand prison) in Chernokozov in the northwest of Chechnya, where they were also subjected to torture and brutal treatment.

They handcuffed the brothers to chairs and beat them; they used electric shock on different parts of their bodies; they made them stand at attention for long periods of time; they twisted their hands; they beat them with rubber batons and plastic bottles filled with water; they suffocated them with cellophane packets, Scotch tape, and gas masks; they set dogs on them; they stripped pieces of their skin with pliers.

The brothers were freed on October 5, 2000, after almost six months in prison. The criminal case against was dropped on January 20, 2001, but then renewed. In the end, they were not charged.

The Strasbourg Court did not examine the brothers’ compliant of poor conditions in prison, since their application was too late. The court also did not examine statements about intrusion and the illegal seizure of their property during searches of their house, since they did not complain about this to Russian authorities.

The application of torture in the Chernokozov SIZO is documented by the human rights organization “Human Rights Watch” and the European Committee Against Torture. INJuly 2001, the Committee expressed deep regret in connection with the absence of investigations of complaints about torture and brutal treatment in Chernokozov.

«We have received numerous appeals for judicial help from victims of torture in Chechnya; Russian and Chechen authorities are now obligated to relate to this problem and to make a serious decision to put an end to this monstrous practice,» stated the chairman of the administration of “Legal Initiative on Russia” Jan Ter Laak.

In conclusions and the recommendations made at a its 37th UN session in November 2006, the UN Committee Against Torture expressed concern in connection with “accounts of unofficial prisons in the North Caucasus and the information that prisoners there undergo torture and severe, inhuman or degrading treatment”.

To date, Russian authorities have refused to register “Legal Initiative on Russia”. The director of “Legal Initiative” in Nazran, Arsen Sakalov reported to a correspondent of PRIMA-News that this week the organization again presented its documents for registration in Russia and should receive an answer in two weeks from the Federal Registration Service.

If Slavs in Russia proper think they are safe from the Kremlin’s abuses during the neo-Soviet crackdown, they should think again. Prima reports:

The Revival of Political Monitoring

One of the good intentions of Perestroika, the liquidation of political monitoring in Russia, has disappeared into oblivion. In 1991, when the “great powerful Soviet Union” began to tear at the seams, and the fate of the KGB was uncertain, leaders of Perestroika and chiefs of state security hurried to assure Russian society and political activists that state security services would no longer conduct political monitoring. At first it seemed that this would be so. Although even then it was explained that even with former dissidents by no means everything was at an end – some investigations remained in operational development.

For a long time “work” on political opposition, if it was being conducted, was sufficiently unnoticeable. The Administration of Constitutional Safety of the FSB of Russia, created in 1998, did not advertise its activities. Data about political organizations and their activists did not become a weapon for suppression of the opposition, which acted and still acts by legal methods within the framework of the Constitution.

Today, the situation has changed considerably. Collection of information about the opposition is conducted no longer only in the interests of judicial- investigation organs and not only for reports about their position in the country. Information is now assembled and analyzed for urgent operational measures. And these measures concern not only combating terrorism, but also “political extremism”, as colleagues of the Special Services understand it. The UFSB in Moscow is combating terrorism and fighting political extremism.

The traditions and methods of the 5th Administration of the KGB, created in the USSR for dealing with dissidents, are being revived before our eyes. Early on the morning of December 5, colleagues of the KGB, with the support of police and Komsomol officers blocked in the apartments of dissidents, who according to data available to State Security Agents, were planning to go to the Pushkinskaya area at 6:00pm to participate in a silent demonstration of solidarity with political prisoners. Those who were not found at home were snatched from the crowd as they approached the Pushkinskaya area. On December 16 of this year, some demonstrators approaching Triumfalnaya Ploshad for the “March of Disagreement”, were stopped and taken away by police based on absurd and fabricated charges.

Who precisely, what “law-enforcement” service, could know the potential participants in an oppositional meeting? Who tracks the movement of buses headed to Moscow for participation in such a meeting? Who manages information throughout the entire country and operationally makes absolutely unlawful decisions about detentions? There is no doubt that it is not the police, who would never have sufficient opportunity, coordination, or determination to so roughly and publicly act in spite of the law. No. It is the service which stands above the law and which does not doubt its impunity that is occupied in such actions. There are no doubts whatsoever about the fact that the heirs to the 5th Administration of the KGB work in today’s FSB.

It goes without saying that political monitoring in one form or another always existed in Russia. However, today the relation of the authorities to such monitoring has changed; shadowing political organizations has ceased to threaten scandal. It has become distinctly evident that the methods which the Soviet regime used to punish dissidents have been adapted now for the suppression of opposition. It is shameless, it is demonstrable, and it is happening on a large scale.

Status Report on Human Rights in Russia: Prisoners’ Skin Stripped with Pliers, Russians Spied on Everywhere

Prima News Agency, a leading source of information about human rights abuses in Russia, reports:

Prisoners Skin Stripped with Pliers

FRANCE, Strasbourg. On January 18, the European Court for Human Rights found Russia guilty of torture in Chechnya, reported the organization “Legal Initiative on Russia”, which represented the complainants – brothers Adam and Arbi Chitayev. Russia must pay them 35 thousand Euros each for moral damage and 7629,90 Euros for judicial expenses.

The court established that the Chitayevs were subjected to torture and that the Russian authorities did not properly investigate their statement about this. “I am satisfied by the decision, but I worry, that what happened to me can happen to my relatives who still live in Russia,” stated the Arbi Chitayev, who now lives in Germany.

On April 12, 2000, Russian soldiers detained the brothers in their house in the village of Achkhoy-Martan in Chechnya and took them to the police, where they were accused of being rebel- separatists and subjected to severe torture. Later they were to taken to the SIZO (remand prison) in Chernokozov in the northwest of Chechnya, where they were also subjected to torture and brutal treatment.

They handcuffed the brothers to chairs and beat them; they used electric shock on different parts of their bodies; they made them stand at attention for long periods of time; they twisted their hands; they beat them with rubber batons and plastic bottles filled with water; they suffocated them with cellophane packets, Scotch tape, and gas masks; they set dogs on them; they stripped pieces of their skin with pliers.

The brothers were freed on October 5, 2000, after almost six months in prison. The criminal case against was dropped on January 20, 2001, but then renewed. In the end, they were not charged.

The Strasbourg Court did not examine the brothers’ compliant of poor conditions in prison, since their application was too late. The court also did not examine statements about intrusion and the illegal seizure of their property during searches of their house, since they did not complain about this to Russian authorities.

The application of torture in the Chernokozov SIZO is documented by the human rights organization “Human Rights Watch” and the European Committee Against Torture. INJuly 2001, the Committee expressed deep regret in connection with the absence of investigations of complaints about torture and brutal treatment in Chernokozov.

«We have received numerous appeals for judicial help from victims of torture in Chechnya; Russian and Chechen authorities are now obligated to relate to this problem and to make a serious decision to put an end to this monstrous practice,» stated the chairman of the administration of “Legal Initiative on Russia” Jan Ter Laak.

In conclusions and the recommendations made at a its 37th UN session in November 2006, the UN Committee Against Torture expressed concern in connection with “accounts of unofficial prisons in the North Caucasus and the information that prisoners there undergo torture and severe, inhuman or degrading treatment”.

To date, Russian authorities have refused to register “Legal Initiative on Russia”. The director of “Legal Initiative” in Nazran, Arsen Sakalov reported to a correspondent of PRIMA-News that this week the organization again presented its documents for registration in Russia and should receive an answer in two weeks from the Federal Registration Service.

If Slavs in Russia proper think they are safe from the Kremlin’s abuses during the neo-Soviet crackdown, they should think again. Prima reports:

The Revival of Political Monitoring

One of the good intentions of Perestroika, the liquidation of political monitoring in Russia, has disappeared into oblivion. In 1991, when the “great powerful Soviet Union” began to tear at the seams, and the fate of the KGB was uncertain, leaders of Perestroika and chiefs of state security hurried to assure Russian society and political activists that state security services would no longer conduct political monitoring. At first it seemed that this would be so. Although even then it was explained that even with former dissidents by no means everything was at an end – some investigations remained in operational development.

For a long time “work” on political opposition, if it was being conducted, was sufficiently unnoticeable. The Administration of Constitutional Safety of the FSB of Russia, created in 1998, did not advertise its activities. Data about political organizations and their activists did not become a weapon for suppression of the opposition, which acted and still acts by legal methods within the framework of the Constitution.

Today, the situation has changed considerably. Collection of information about the opposition is conducted no longer only in the interests of judicial- investigation organs and not only for reports about their position in the country. Information is now assembled and analyzed for urgent operational measures. And these measures concern not only combating terrorism, but also “political extremism”, as colleagues of the Special Services understand it. The UFSB in Moscow is combating terrorism and fighting political extremism.

The traditions and methods of the 5th Administration of the KGB, created in the USSR for dealing with dissidents, are being revived before our eyes. Early on the morning of December 5, colleagues of the KGB, with the support of police and Komsomol officers blocked in the apartments of dissidents, who according to data available to State Security Agents, were planning to go to the Pushkinskaya area at 6:00pm to participate in a silent demonstration of solidarity with political prisoners. Those who were not found at home were snatched from the crowd as they approached the Pushkinskaya area. On December 16 of this year, some demonstrators approaching Triumfalnaya Ploshad for the “March of Disagreement”, were stopped and taken away by police based on absurd and fabricated charges.

Who precisely, what “law-enforcement” service, could know the potential participants in an oppositional meeting? Who tracks the movement of buses headed to Moscow for participation in such a meeting? Who manages information throughout the entire country and operationally makes absolutely unlawful decisions about detentions? There is no doubt that it is not the police, who would never have sufficient opportunity, coordination, or determination to so roughly and publicly act in spite of the law. No. It is the service which stands above the law and which does not doubt its impunity that is occupied in such actions. There are no doubts whatsoever about the fact that the heirs to the 5th Administration of the KGB work in today’s FSB.

It goes without saying that political monitoring in one form or another always existed in Russia. However, today the relation of the authorities to such monitoring has changed; shadowing political organizations has ceased to threaten scandal. It has become distinctly evident that the methods which the Soviet regime used to punish dissidents have been adapted now for the suppression of opposition. It is shameless, it is demonstrable, and it is happening on a large scale.

The Rooski Who Cried "Wolf!"

Last week, La Russophobe reported on the fact that, as the LA Times reported on Sunday, “Russian national Oleg Khintsagov was arrested Feb. 1, 2006, after he smuggled about 3.5 ounces of weapons-grade uranium into Georgia from his homeland, expecting to receive $1 million for it, Shota Utiashvili, chief of the analytical department of the Georgian Interior Ministry, said Friday in a telephone interview from Tbilisi, the Georgian capital. Khintsagov, who thought he was dealing with “an extremely wealthy customer” wanting to buy nuclear bomb-making material, claimed that he would be able to provide up to 6.6 pounds at the price of $1 million for each 3.5 ounces, Utiashvili said.” The Times stated: “Utiashvili charged that Russia had not cooperated in the investigation of the incident, which was first made public this week by Georgian and U.S. officials. These officials said the CIA, the FBI and the Energy Department had assisted in the case. Utiashvili said Georgia had requested help from the FSB, or Russian Federal Security Service, immediately after the arrests were made, but that the agency never responded. ‘We think it is extremely dangerous that such material can get into the hands of terrorists,’ Utiashvili said. ‘We think it is in everybody’s interests, and especially in the interests of Russia, to get to the bottom of it and assist us in this investigation.'”

Not only has Russia “failed to cooperate,” but according to the Times Russia has characterized concern over the issue as an “overblown propaganda ploy,” a conspiracy of Russia’s foreign enemies. The Times reported: “‘It appears obvious that Georgian ‘hawks’ were consciously trying to deal a painful blow to the prestige of Russia in the international arena,’ the state-run Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper declared in an unsigned commentary. Georgia’s actions in the case were “a planned information provocation,” said Andrei Cherkasenko, board chairman of Atompromresursy, a manufacturer of nuclear power industry equipment, according to RIA Novosti, the state-run Russian news agency.”

Now where have we heard this &#^!@% before? LR is getting oh so very tired of listening to Russians talk about their foreign enemies each and every time Russia’s hand is caught in the cookie jar. First hardened Kremlin foe Alexander Litvinenko is poisoned with Russian polonium, and Russia says he was killed just to make the Kremlin look bad, and now Russian nukes are passing into Georgia and the story is the same. Over and over again, we’re being told that we’re the ones who have the problem, not Russia — yet, when an issue like the NATO action against Serbia comes up, Russia explodes in frenzy against the West which it claims is fully justified.

Welcome to the neo-Soviet Union.

Kasparov Mumbles to the Journal

The Wall Street Journal reports, at long, long last, on the doings of presidential contender Garry Kasparov, who has been conspicuous by his absence from the Litvinenko fray. Even now, however, his remarks are exceedingly guarded and unsatisfying. It’s unclear just how much he is willing to risk for Russia and when, if ever, he is prepared to put his major pieces at risk. The time is soon coming for Mr. Kasparov to fish or cut bait, history is passing him by. To be fair, Garry may have all manner of threats made against him by the Kremlin, which become exceedingly credible in light of the attacks on Politkovskaya, Gaidar and Litvinenko. The question of whether Russia is worth risking one’s life for is a open one. But it’s high time Kasparov stated his opinion on it.

The Other Russia
The man who would checkmate Vladimir Putin.

As the longtime world chess champion, Garry Kasparov was a famously aggressive player. His latest game is politics, and his style is equally aggressive. “Our goal is to dismantle the regime,” he says, speaking of the political coalition he leads to bring down Vladimir Putin.

Mr. Kasparov’s Putin antipathy is well known to readers of this newspaper, of which he is a contributing editor. “I Was Wrong About Putin,” was the headline on his Jan. 9, 2001, op-ed article for this page. One year into Mr. Putin’s presidency, Mr. Kasparov sounded an early warning about a man whose “KGB roots have informed a style of governance that is neither reformist nor particularly democratic.” Since then, Mr. Kasparov has scarcely let up, retiring from chess in March 2005 in part to devote himself to politics.

Mr. Kasparov’s new occupation is not without its perils–a thought that occurred to me as we arranged to meet earlier this month at his newly refurbished apartment in an art deco building on a smart street in Midtown Manhattan. It’s a neighborhood replete with sushi bars–of the sort that bring to mind, ghoulishly, the late Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned with polonium 210. The doorman announces me, and Mr. Kasparov greets me at the door. We are old interlocutors–I was present at his first meeting with the editorial board in March 1990 and was his editor at the Journal for years. So we kiss–twice, once on each cheek, not three times, as is the custom in Moscow. After his wife serves tea–in bone-china English cups, not à la Russe, in glasses–I ask Mr. Kasparov about the risks: “Look,” he says, “there are certain moments in your life when you should forget calculations and do what you believe is your moral duty. I knew that the choice would be dangerous. That’s why our baby was born here. I’m prepared to take all the risk, but if I can avoid some, I do.” The Kasparovs have a three-month-old daughter.

“The Other Russia” is the name of the unlikely left-right coalition conceived by Mr. Kasparov in 2005 and founded last year. It is composed of groups that would normally be at political odds–democrats like Mr. Kasparov, nationalists, socialists, even Bolsheviks. Mr. Kasparov predicts that the Communist Party will join up before the end of the year. “There’s still a lot of distrust,” he says, with more than a modicum of understatement. “It’s a problem, but I don’t think it’s insurmountable. The big advantage of the Other Russia, and I think it’s our biggest accomplishment, is that we’ve established the principle of compromise, which was not yet seen in Russian politics. It was always confrontation. It was a mentality of a civil war. We eliminated it.”

A declaration at the time of the Other Russia’s organizing conference last summer reads, “We are gathering together because we are united in our disagreement with the current political course of the Kremlin and united in our alarm for the present and future of our country.” The group’s sole objective is to find a candidate to run–and win–in the March 2008 presidential elections. Or as Mr. Kasparov puts it with characteristic bluntness: “When a liberal democracy is re-established, everybody goes his or her way.”

The Russian Constitution forbids Mr. Putin from running for a third term–though that doesn’t quell widespread speculation that the president will ignore the rule of law and do so anyway. He “has the administrative resources” to do so, Mr. Kasparov agrees, but it would be at the price of his legitimacy–both in the West and at home. “I don’t think Putin wants to take such a chance.”

Mr. Kasparov believes Mr. Putin’s “mentality is just to run away–with all the Russian billionaires. This is the richest ruling elite in the world. They are way ahead of the Saudi princes. They are mega-rich. When you’re so rich, you have to make sure that your funds are safe.” But “if Putin goes, then who will be in charge? That’s a big problem. Then it’s instability. An authoritarian regime cannot have a successor while the big name [Mr. Putin] is still alive, much less well, young and strong.”

As the new year unfolds, Mr. Kasparov predicts “a political crisis” in Mr. Putin’s government, along with “less stability, more uncertainty.” That’s the opening for the Other Russia. “We should keep our group together, close to the wall, to get into the hall when it’s broken. But not too close to be buried under the debris.” And then? “If the Other Russia wins, who cares? The victory of the Other Russia candidate destroys the legacy of any institution built under Putin. You have to start from scratch. You have to call new [parliamentary] elections. You have to introduce new laws. You have to undergo judicial reform. You have to destroy censorship.” In short, you have to start over, back to where Russia was before Mr. Putin took over, building democracy, block by block.

The next step for the Other Russia, Mr. Kasparov says, is to come up with a platform and work out the rules for selecting a presidential candidate, tasks that are on the agenda for a conference planned for April. The candidate will likely be chosen in another conference in September or October, Mr. Kasparov explains. At the moment Mikhail Kasyanov, a former prime minister, “looks most prominent.”

And what about Garry Kasparov? Is he a candidate? It’s the only time in 15 years of conversations with Mr. Kasparov that I’ve known him to be less than confident in a reply. “So far . . .,” he says–note the “so far”–“so far, I don’t think my personal participation helps the coalition because so far”–another one!–“I keep the position of moderator. . . . I keep balance of different forces. If I step into the game, that might jeopardize the whole coalition.”

In the course of our discussion, Mr. Kasparov refers often to the lack of a free press in Russia. So how, then, will the Other Russia get its message across? “The role of Internet is growing,” he says. “Mobile telephones are not unique anymore, not even in rural villages.” But–and the master chess player may have too much confidence in the analytic abilities of ordinary Russians here–“more important is growing malcontent. People are getting really unhappy. And if they’re unhappy, they’ll listen.”

Mr. Kasparov is far more worried about money, which is short; but “I think in 2007 we will see a major influx of our financial support from within Russia because people can see that the ground is shaky.” The Other Russia won’t touch “politically exposed money,” he says–and emphatically denies that exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky is a donor. But in the end, he says, “You know, you can’t buy political support. Either you are the right man at the right place at the right time or no money helps you.” More political naïveté?

Our hour nearly at an end, conversation drifts back to the early ’90s and the discussions we used to have about Russia and its future. Is there something the U.S. might have done differently back then, I ask, that would have helped keep Russia on the path to democracy?

Mr. Kasparov gives a wry smile. “I think the best thing [the U.S.] could have done was to get Saddam [Hussein] 15 years earlier,” he says. “By going after Saddam in 1991, I think we could have saved Yugoslavia from a civil war and could have sent a message, a very powerful message, to many dictators. . . . In 1991, the United States was much stronger and everybody else was much weaker.”

The decision to let Saddam stay in power happened under the watch of President George H.W. Bush, whom Mr. Kasparov isn’t shy about criticizing. But he’s far more scathing about President Bill Clinton. “During the Clinton years, the United States did virtually nothing in the international arena. . . . There were a lot of activities, but when you look at the core events, I think the influence was irrelevant. . . . Leadership. There was no leadership. . . . There was a big window of opportunity to show leadership, in 1992-93. In those years the whole world was in an ambiguous state after the Cold War. It was a new world, and it required leadership. The way Winston Churchill and [Harry] Truman showed it in World War II. . . . Missing this chance and playing sporadically–you know, boom, boom, you play one move here, one move there. The United States was asleep.”

What advice does he have for George W. Bush about helping Russian democracy today? “Stay neutral,” comes the swift reply. The “worst thing” that happened to the democracy movement, he says, was the inclusion of Russia in the Group of 7 democracies, now the G-8, a designation he can’t bring himself to utter. Now, Washington should take that position that “there must be an election under the Russian constitution. Putin must go, and elections should be held. Period. That’s enough. There’s no double standard. Obey the Constitution. That’s it.”

In addition to his work with the Other Russia, Mr. Kasparov continues to write books about chess–he’s up to Volume Six in a series about his great predecessors–and he has a mass-market book coming out this year called “How Life Imitates Chess,” about the decision-making process in chess, business, politics and history. But at least for now, politics has taken the place of chess as the big game in his life: “I just don’t see any other choice for me,” he says. “As I used to say for 25 years, I am defending the colors of my country. I’m still doing the same, just not at the chessboard. At a much larger board.”