Daily Archives: November 27, 2007

Another Original LR Translation: Annals of the Horror of Chechnya

La Russophobe‘s original translator offers another insight into the Russian Internet with the following story about Russian human rights abuses in Chechnya:

European Court Says Russia Must Pay 42,000 Euros for the

Murder of a Chechen by Policeman Federal Soldiers


November 15, 2007

The European Court of Human Rights on November 16 handed down a decision in a suit related to the murder in Grozniy of Aslanbek Kukayev, a policeman of the Staropromyslov Regional Branch of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

As reported by Interfax, the court found in favor of the suit brought by Khamzat Kukayev, the father of the policeman who was killed in November 2000 in Grozniy, and obliged the Russian Federation to pay him 7,000 euros as compensation for material damages and 35,000 euros for moral damages. In addition, Russia is required to pay over 7,000 euros for court costs.

In the opinion of the court, with regard to the petitioner Russia permitted the violation of Articles 2, 3 and 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Specifically, violation of the “Article 2 (right to life) of the European convention on human rights concerning the disappearance and death of Aslanbek Kukayev; a violation of the same Article concerning the authorities’ failure to carry out an adequate and effective investigation into the disappearance and death of Aslanbek Kukayev.”

The Strasburg court also found that with respect to Kukayev’s father, who suffered mental anguish as a result of the disappearance of his son and the lack of a competent investigation, Russia had allowed a violation of Article 3 – according to which “No one shall be subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

The court also established a violation of Article 13 of the Convention, which guarantees the right to an effective remedy in defense of a person’s rights, as well as Article 38, which establishes a procedure for examining cases brought to the European Court. The Russian government failed to present documents that the court had requested.

As reported by the online publication “Kavkazskiy Uzel” (Caucus Knot), Dmitriy Grushkin, a lawyer with the “Memorial” organization who is representing the father of the murdered man in the Strasburg court. Kukayev disappeared in Grozniy in the year 2000. On November 26, Kukayev, a member of the patrol service of the Aslanbek Kukayev (No. 221 on the list of those who have disappeared mysteriously), together with his fellow serviceman Roslanbek Damayev (No. 134 on the same list), left for work for the last time in his life, bound for the Central Market of Grozniy. On that day, Russian Federal forces were conducting a “special operation” in the market.

According to multiple witnesses who were interviewed by members of the human rights organization “Memorial”, at 11:00 a.m. on 26 November, 2000 the central market of Grozniy was unexpectedly cordoned off by soldiers and armored vehicles. Traffic was halted for several blocks around the market, and pedestrian movement was limited. Heavy machinery, including tanks and bulldozers, moved toward the rows of stands located on Mir Street.

The market was plundered. One of the traders, a woman, tried to protect her goods. A fight broke out, involving several other women as well. The soldiers were forced to retreat to a market exit, firing over the heads of the people — as described by “Memorial” in the first book in the series “People Live Here. Chechnya: Chronicle of Violence”, covering the period from July to December 2000 and published by the company “Zvenya” in 2003.

Grozniy resident Khava Magomadova: “At 11:00 a.m. the market was surrounded by soldiers, some of them in masks. Under the guise of checking passports, they chased the traders from their working places and right in front of everyone began taking merchandise from the tables. After opening the merchants’ lockers, they began to load up their Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) and other vehicles with boxes and crates of alcohol and food products. I had goods worth 22,000 rubles disappear.”

Zarema Abubakorova, a resident of the Grozniy region: “I was working at the market on November 26, when the Russians started roughing people up outrageously. They stole merchandise, food, boxes of vodka, cigarettes and equipment. When two police officers from the Zavodskyy Region tried to intervene, they took away their identification and led them away somewhere. Things stolen from my locker included raincoats, jackets, suits, and shoes, worth 50,000 rubles. Only a few of my colleagues managed to hide and preserve their goods.”

While some soldiers plundered the market, others kidnapped young people: at least 20 people were detained. A few of them managed to ransom their way to safety, but the fate of most of them is still unknown. Two women also disappeared from the market, also perhaps taken by the soldiers.

A student at Chechnya State University, who requested anonymity: “I went to the central market to buy some clothes. Suddenly a panic broke out, people started running around in confusion. It turned out that the Russians had surrounded the market and were conducting a document check. Although I presented my passport and student identification, they took me to a vehicle with several dozen other young men who were being detained. On the road I managed to negotiate with one of the soldiers, who let me go in exchanged for money. Several other people from my group also managed to buy their release. I don’t know what happened to the others. I only know that their relatives are looking for them. If I hadn’t had some money with me at the time, I’m sure mine would be looking for me now.”

The policemen Aslanbek Kukayev and Roslanbek Damayev were in camouflage uniforms and had with them their identifications as members of the police force. At about 12:00 noon they were detained by soldiers of the federal forces. Presenting their credentials, Kukayev and Damayev “demanded the soldiers explain what was going on. But then, in front of a multitude of witnesses, they themselves were placed in a truck with some other Chechen policemen who had also been arrested.

According to witnesses, the vehicle stopped at the Grozniy Teachers College, where Kukayev and Damayev were taken off by a group of six soldiers. The truck then continued on, and after a little while shots were heard. By evening of the same day, all of the Chechen policemen who had been detained had returned home. Except for Aslanbek Kukayev and his fellow officer.

Khamzat Kukayev immediately began looking for his son Aslanbek. He appealed to the Grozniy city prosecutor, as a result of which a criminal case was opened. He also turned to the FSB and Commandant of the city.

After 4 months, on 22 April 2001, soldiers of a mobile unit of the Federal Forces discovered two corpses at the entrance to a basement in the Teachers College building during a search of the area. Expert analysis determined that the bodies were those of the missing policemen: Aslanbek Kukayev and Ruslanbek Damayev.

Both of them had been shot in the head. On 12 May the criminal case on the disappearance of Kukayev and subsequent discovery of his body was passed to the military prosecutor’s office. After a few days the military prosecutor returned the case to the civil court, on the basis that no military servicemen were involved in the crime.

On 28 May 2001, the civil prosecutor’s office officially closed the case “on the basis that no individual could be found subject to being identified as a suspect.”

Having exhausted all possible means of investigating and punishing those responsible in Russia, Khamzat Kukayev appealed to the European Court of Human Rights. In the view of the petitioner, with respect to the death of his son there were violations of Article 2, para 1 (right to life), Article 3 (right to not be subject to torture or inhuman treatment) and Article 13 (the right to effective remedy in defense of one’s rights) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In the list compiled by “Memorial” of people who have disappeared in Chechnya, Aslanbek Khamzatovich Kukayev, date of birth 1976, is listed as a member of the Chechen OMON. According to eyewitnesses, he was detained and taken away in the direction of the “Khankala” military base. Criminal case number 12332 was opened in the Grozniy city prosecutor’s office on 13 December 2000, in accordance with Article 126, chapter 2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (kidnapping of a person), and was investigated by agencies of the prosecutor’s office of the Chechen Repulic. In the middle of 2001 the case was closed in accordance with Article 195, chapter 3 of the Criminal Code (“inability to find an individual subject to being identified as a suspect”). The bodies of Kukayev and Damayev were discovered on 22 April in the ruins of the Grozniy Teachers College.

Another Khrushchev Moment for Putin

So let’s see if we understand. In regard to the December parliamentary elections in Russia, Vladimir Putin has:

  • banned various parties and candidates outright from the ballot
  • seized truckloads of opposition campaign literature
  • refused to allow his party to engage in debates
  • severely restricted the ability of foreign observers to scrutinize the polls
  • beaten and arrested opposition party leaders
  • imposed price controls to hide the effects of chronic inflation

And two opposition figures have been assassinated (see report below). Yet it’s the United States, not the Kremlin, that is undermining the elections?!?

And, while Russia has ever right to intervene in elections in Ukraine and Georgia, the U.S. is venal felon for attempting to do so in neo-Soviet Russia?

Ummm . . . OK. The Times of London reports:

Vladimir Putin accused the United States today of plotting to discredit the results of parliamentary elections in Russia. President Putin claimed that the US had pressed international observers to cancel a monitoring mission to Russia and cautioned that Moscow’s future relations with Washington would be affected. Mr Putin hit out as the Federation Council, Russia’s Senate, announced March 2 as the date of the next presidential election. He is barred by the Russian Constitution from seeking a third consecutive term.

Today’s blunt allegation signalled a new chilling of relations with America as the pro-Kremlin United Russia party heads for a sweeping victory in the elections to the Duma on Sunday. Europe’s principal election watchdog, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), abandoned efforts to monitor the vote ten days ago after accusing Moscow of obstructing its work. It is the elections arm of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which includes Russia and the US among its 56 members. Mr Putin told a meeting of United Russia supporters in St Petersburg that the US had been behind the decision in an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of the election.

“Information available to us suggests that this has been done yet again on the recommendation of the US State Department and this will be taken into account in our inter-state relations with that country,” he said. “Their goal is to make the elections illegitimate. But they will fail again to attain this goal.” Urdur Gunnarsdottir, an ODIHR spokeswoman, said that Mr Putin’s claims were “nonsense” and that the decision to withdraw the mission had not been made “on the recommendation or co-ordinated with any government”.

The growing harshness of Mr Putin’s rhetoric against Europe and the US, however, suggests that the Kremlin’s campaign to install a successor in the presidential elections will be based on antagonism to the West. Mr Putin described his opponents last week as “jackals” in the pay of foreign governments to stir up a revolution. The chairman of Russia’s Central Election Commission today ruled out one ruse to let Mr Putin seek a third term. Vladimir Churov said that the law did not permit a president to step down early and seek re-election while a caretaker took his place.

Candidates have 25 days from the announcement of the poll date to register for the election. Opinion polls show that growing numbers of Russians believe that Mr Putin will back Viktor Zubkov, 66, the bureaucrat that he plucked from obscurity in September to become Prime Minister. Many analysts are convinced that Mr Zubkov would become president for only a short time before resigning for “health reasons” and paving the way for Mr Putin to return to the Kremlin. The ODIHR cancelled its visit after complaining that Moscow had failed to issue visas in time and had limited the organisation to 70 observers. It sent more than 400 monitors to parliamentary elections in 2003.

The State Department accused Moscow of deliberately impeding the OSCE’s ability to monitor the vote. Russia blamed the OSCE. A crackdown by riot police on weekend protests against Mr Putin drew sharp criticism from the European Commission today. Hundreds were arrested in Moscow and St Petersburg and the former chess champion Garry Kasparov was jailed for five days. “I was very concerned to see reports of police harassment and arrests of politicians and peaceful demonstrators in Russia,” said José Manuel Barroso, the Commission’s president. “The right to free speech and assembly are basic fundamental human rights and I very much regret that the authorities found it necessary to take such heavy-handed action.”

Boris Nemtsov, one of the politicians arrested in St Petersburg, called the elections a sham. Mr Nemtsov, a candidate for the liberal Union of Right Forces, said: “There is absolutely no doubt that these elections will not be recognised anywhere in the world as free and democratic.”

Annals of "Pacified" Chechnya: Civic Leaders Dropping Like Flies

November 24th

An opposition party candidate who was shot by unidentified gunmen in the entryway of his apartment building in a southern Russian republic died Saturday of his wounds, his party said. Farid Babayev, a Yabloko party candidate in Russia’s Dec. 2 parliamentary elections, was shot late Wednesday in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan. Doctors said he was shot four times, including at least once in the head. Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky connected Babayev’s death to his efforts to hold the authorities accountable for human rights abuses in Dagestan. The region is troubled by violence linked to the separatist conflict in neighboring Chechnya, a police crackdown on Islamic militancy and internal power struggles.

November 26th

A prominent regional figure and his wife were found shot dead in their home in the violence-plagued Dagestan province Monday, police said. The deaths of Nariman Aliyev and his wife came after an opposition candidate in Russia’s Dec. 2 parliamentary elections was fatally shot in Dagestan’s capital, Makhachkala. Aliyev, who long headed a state farm and was prominent in the winemaking business, was a former lawmaker and a member of Dagestan’s Public Chamber, a body that consults with the government on policy. The province in Russia’s troubled North Caucasus is troubled by violence linked to the separatist conflict in neighboring Chechnya, a police crackdown on Islamic militancy and internal power struggles.

So Much for the Mighty Russian Stock Market

The Moscow Times reports:

Russian stocks suffered a battering across the board last week, challenging the perception that the country is a safe haven from the storm in the United States. “Many commentators and market participants thought the crisis would not have an impact in Russia at all,” Eugene Belin, head of fixed income, currencies and commodities at Citibank Russia, said last week. “People called Russia a safe haven. “These predictions proved false as the crisis developed. Russia is today far more connected to the world economy than it was before.”

If ever evidence of that was needed, one needs merely cast a glance over some of the figures released by the State Statistics Service last week. Foreign direct investment fell by 0.4 percent in the third quarter compared with the same period last year, a massive drop on first-quarter and second-quarter FDI year-on-year growth of 154 percent and 134 percent, respectively. Yet more bad news, combined with fears of a U.S. recession, pushed stocks lower. Even with an 11th-hour recovery Friday across the board, the MICEX shed 2.19 percent this week, to finish at 1793.03 points, while the RTS dropped 1.34 percent to 2159.89 points. Telecoms and energy stocks both suffered knocks last week. Arguably more surprising, banking stocks were down on the back of global sentiment, despite having virtually no exposure to subprime paper.

VTB, which has disappointed investors and analysts for several months now, continues to flounder. So much so that a group of minority shareholders, many of them individual Russian investors who bought into the bank during its much-hailed “people’s IPO” in May, sent a letter to Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov last week, asking the state to buy back their shares at the IPO price of 13.6 kopeks each. The stock has fallen by more than 20 percent since then. Sberbank, which over the long term has performed remarkably well, was facing losses over the week, a reflection of the short-term drag on stocks. Eric Kraus, managing director of the Nikitsky Fund, said the past week’s drop was just a question of sentiment. “The short-term market has as much to do with Russian fundamentals as it has to do with the weather on Jupiter,” Kraus said. “Russia is trading entirely in line with global liquidity flows.” [LR: In other words, you self-serving idiot, Russia is not a safe haven but totally submissive to the world economy]

But by Friday, things were not looking quite so dismal. In spite of falling base metal prices, Norilsk Nickel led a recovery after speculation that Oleg Deripaska’s RusAl was waiting to pounce on Mikhail Prokhorov’s blocking stake, should Vladimir Potanin fail to agree on terms to buy it. RusAl and Prokhorov’s Oxenim confirmed late Friday that a conditional deal had been struck. If Potanin were to fail to come up with the money, Deripaska would get the blocking stake, while Prokhorov would get 11 percent of RusAl. Andrei Kuznetsov, strategist at Troika Dialog, said Russia would continue to be a safe haven for investors. Global negatives bear little relation to Russia, he said, which continues to display macroeconomic stability.

Remember the KGB Coup?

The Associated Press reports:

Vladimir Kryuchkov, the former KGB chief who spearheaded a failed coup against Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, has died, officials said Sunday. He was 83. Kryuchkov died Friday in Moscow of an unspecified illness, a spokesman for the Federal Security Service said. Kryuchkov worked with future Soviet leader Yury Andropov in the Hungarian Embassy in the 1950s. When Andropov became head of the KGB in 1967, he helped Kryuchkov rise through the ranks. Kryuchkov in 1974 was appointed chief of the KGB’s First Main Directorate in charge of spying abroad. In 1988, Gorbachev appointed Kryuchkov as KGB chief. In August 1991, Kryuchkov joined other hard-line Communists who ousted Gorbachev and declared a state of emergency. The coup collapsed after three days, and Kryuchkov and other coup plotters were jailed but freed on an amnesty in early 1994. Last month, Kryuchkov warned of “big trouble” if a turf battle between security agencies continues to fester. He and other KGB veterans called on the feuding forces to unite behind President Vladimir Putin. Kryuchkov’s funeral is planned for Tuesday.

Failed? Who says it failed? The KGB currently rules Russia, doesn’t it?

November 26, 2007 — Contents


(1) EDITORIAL: Wake up, Mr. Bush!

(2) Stopping Russian Imperialism

(3) Kasparov in Prison

(4) The Horror of Nashi Unbound

(5) Journalists under Siege in Ingushetia