Endless Russian Barbarism in Chechnya

Human Rights Watch reports:

Russian federal and Chechen local authorities should immediately put a stop to the punitive house-burning and other human rights violations in Chechnya and bring those responsible to justice, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch has documented two new cases in Chechnya in which the homes of families related to suspected insurgents were torched by local law-enforcement officials as well as a public extrajudicial killing of a man suspected of providing food to insurgents.

On July 2, 2009, Human Rights Watch published a report, “‘What Your Children Do Will Touch Upon You’: Punitive House-Burning in Chechnya“, documenting a pattern of house burnings by security forces to punish families for the alleged involvement by their relatives in the insurgency.

“We have two more houses burned and at least one person killed just in the last couple of weeks,” said Tanya Lokshina, deputy Moscow director at Human Rights Watch. “It’s time for Russia’s leaders to take a clear stand against this kind of brutal collective punishment instead of looking like they endorse it.”

The two new cases of punitive house burnings documented by Human Rights Watch took place on June 29 and July 4, after the Kremlin gave Chechnya’s president, Ramzan Kadyrov, authority to run counterinsurgency operations outside Chechnya, in neighboring Ingushetia. In one case, a daughter of the family, who reportedly had married a Chechen rebel, died under suspicious circumstances. The extrajudicial killing, supposedly of a man accused of selling food to the rebels, took place on July 7.

House Burnings

In the first new episode, Chechen law-enforcement personnel arrested 39-year-old Magomed Dadilov at his home in Shali on the evening of June 28. A relative told Human Rights Watch that four law-enforcement officers came for Dadilov when he was reciting his evening prayers and provided neither an arrest warrant nor an explanation for his arrest.

Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that at dawn the next day, a group of suspected Chechen law-enforcement personnel in masks and camouflage broke into the Dadilov family compound, locked all the family members inside one of the three houses on the compound, doused one of the other houses with gasoline, and set it on fire. Three families live on the compound, including 12 children between the ages of seven months and 14 years. All of them were screaming with fear as the law-enforcement personnel went about burning their home, the witnesses said.

Soon after the house was fully ablaze, the perpetrators left. Some of the family members called a local firefighter, a personal friend. He immediately came with several colleagues, and they put out the fire out before the walls and roof collapsed. The inside of the house was completely burned, however.

“The burning of this home fits the unmistakable, ghastly pattern that we and other groups have been documenting for some time,” said Lokshina.

Dadilov was detained incommunicado for three days, then taken to the Shali district police department on July 1, where his detention was officially processed. At this writing, he is still being held on suspicion of participation in an illegal armed group and has had access to legal counsel.

A source close to the case said that Dadilov was held for the three-day period in an informal detention facility on the base of a patrol police unit, where he was reportedly coerced into providing a confession that he had assisted Abubakar Musliev, an alleged insurgent from Shali.

Musliev was killed on July 1 by security officials, according to official reports. The July 2 Human Rights Watch report includes an account of the burning of his family home, apparently as punishment for his activities, on August 28, 2008.

In the July 4 incident, armed law-enforcement personnel in Argun burned the home of the Yunusovs, whose 20-year-old daughter, Madina, recently married a man accused of involvement in the insurgency in Chechnya.

Two days earlier, on July 2, Madina Yunusova had been critically wounded in a special operation carried out by Chechen law-enforcement agencies in a house where she was staying in Staraya Sunzha, a village on the outskirts of Grozny. The law-enforcement personnel surrounded the home and killed Said-Selim Abdulkadyrov, alleged to be her husband.

Chechen law-enforcement agencies said that Abdulkadyrov was involved in a plot to assassinate Ramzan Kadyrov. Yunusova was taken into custody, placed under surveillance in a prison-type room of a hospital in Grozny, and reportedly underwent successful surgery for her wounds. However, she died under suspicious circumstances less than three days later.

According to the Yunusovs’ relatives and neighbors, on July 3, police in Argun brought in her parents, Vakha and Laila, for several hours of interrogation about their daughter’s connections to insurgents and then let them return home. A neighbor who witnessed the burning and others who spoke with the Yunusovs said that on July 4, between 3 and 4 a.m., a group of armed servicemen broke into the Yunusov family compound, locked the parents and two younger daughters, ages 4 and 6, in a shed, doused the house with gasoline from inside and set it on fire. Soon afterward, they unlocked the shed and left.

The Yunusovs managed to put the fire out with the help of their neighbors. The walls and roof remained intact, but Human Rights Watch observed that two of the rooms were badly burned. The family lost furniture, family memorabilia, money, and documents. The Yunusovs fled Argun several hours after the burning.

The next day, July 5, soon after dawn, Madina’s corpse was delivered to her parents’ already-burned home. The neighbors heard some noise and saw a group of law-enforcement officers knocking on the Yunusovs’ gate. One of them reportedly said, “Where are your neighbors? We brought a corpse for them.”

When informed that the Yunusovs were no longer in Argun, the officers took the body, which was wrapped in a shroud, from their vehicle and gave it to the neighbors, cautioning them not to unwrap it. The neighbors notified the Yunusovs, who buried the body.

The circumstances of Yunusova’s death are unclear. Several patients at the hospital where she had been treated told Human Rights Watch that they saw her shortly after she arrived at the hospital. They said orderlies had told them that she had recovered from surgery and was healing well, and was talking and eating, but that she had cried out for her mother on the night of July 4. The other patients could not approach her room because it was heavily guarded by law-enforcement officers. The orderlies told the patients that Yunusova was alive when several law-enforcement officers in camouflage uniforms removed her from her room on a stretcher at dawn on July 5.

As with any death in custody, or that raises the possibility of official involvement, Russia is under a legal obligation to ensure that there is an effective investigation to determine any liability and responsibility for the death and, where appropriate, to ensure the prosecution and punishment of the perpetrators.

“This is clearly a suspicious death, which needs to be fully investigated,” said Lokshina.

Extrajudicial Killing

Human Rights Watch also documented the extrajudicial killing of Abusubyan (Rizvan) Albekov, on July 7 in the village of Akhinchu-Borzoi in Kurchaloi district.

A local police officer named Ilyas came to Albekov’s home in Akhinchu-Borzoi on July 6. Relatives told Human Rights Watch that when he did not find Albekov at home, Ilyas asked Albekov’s daughter where he was and requested his cell phone number, which she provided. When Albekov did not return home in the evening, his worried relatives tried to reach him on his cell phone, but neither of his two cell phone numbers was working.

Several sources told Human Rights Watch that Kurchaloi district police personnel put up a roadblock that evening in the village of Dzhigurty and stopped Albekov and his 17-year-old son, Adis, when they drove through the village on their way home.

At about 1 a.m. on July 7, two cars drove through Akhinchu-Borzoi, circled the village and the law-enforcement officers in the cars rounded up about four young men. Several villagers, one of whom spoke with one of the young men, said that the drivers of the cars threw Albekov, who appeared to have been severely beaten, out of the car in front of the young men.

They asked Albekov, “Did you give a sheep to the rebels?” He shook his head and started begging incoherently for the release of his son. The drivers of the cars then shot Albekov and one said, “This is what’s going to happen to anyone who helps the rebels!” Then they left, and the young men fled.

Later that day, a family member contacted the Kurchaloi district prosecutor’s office, which sent officials to examine the body and question family members before the ritual washing and burial of the body. The next day, Albekov’s family was threatened by Kurchaloi law-enforcement officers into signing a statement that Albekov had died of a stroke. The officers told the family that Adis would be also killed and all the relatives would suffer if they complained to any authorities or non-governmental agencies. The fate and whereabouts of Adis Albekov remains unknown.

“Reports of how Albekov was killed describe a cold-blooded extrajudicial execution,” said Lokshina. “There needs to be a thorough and impartial investigation to bring those responsible to justice. Given the routine failure by Chechen authorities to hold perpetrators of crimes such as these accountable, the federal office of the prosecutor general should oversee the investigation.”

Albekov’s brother, Vakhazhi, was killed in October 2000 by a landmine in Chechnya. A third brother, Ramzan Albekov, filed a case against Russia with the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled in 2008 that Russia had violated his brother’s right to life.

9 responses to “Endless Russian Barbarism in Chechnya

  1. Chechen law-enforcement personnel, the brave Kadyrov troops, are not Russian. So how is this Russian barbarism?

    • They take their final orders from the Russian state, amd they are Russian citizens.
      They commit their crimes in the name of the Russian federation.

      Therefore, it is Russian barbarism.

    • @AKM

      Oh. So what these “not-illegal armed formations” are doing in not only in Chechnya, but also in Ingushetia, while clad in the Russian uniforms (official), armed with Russian weapons (legal) and on the Russian government pay?

  2. So much for “mission accomplished” Mr Medvedev LOL

    Chechnya ambush leaves four dead

    Two police officers and two soldiers have been killed in a gun battle with militants in the southern Russian republic of Chechnya, officials say.

    They were ambushed in the Vedenskiy district late on Tuesday by up to 15 gunmen, who later fled, they added. Six other security personnel were injured.

    Later, a court bailiff and a relative were killed in neighbouring Ingushetia.

    Violence in the North Caucasus since Saturday has left 10 security personnel and 23 militants dead, officials say.

    Overnight on Monday, a policeman was killed and six others injured by a bomb explosion in the Chechen capital, Grozny, while three militants and a soldier were shot dead during a gun battle in Dagestan, authorities in the two republics said.

    Earlier, gunmen ambushed a Dagestani police patrol, reportedly killing two officers. A sniper shot dead a third officer in a separate incident.

    Growing insurgency

    The latest clashes come after a string of successful attacks by militants on high-level government targets in the North Caucasus.

    Last month, the president of Ingushetia, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, was critically injured by a car bomb in an apparent assassination attempt.

    Two weeks earlier, Dagestan’s interior minister was shot dead.

    Russian forces have fought two wars against Islamist separatists in the mainly Muslim republic of Chechnya since 1994. The conflicts claimed more than 100,000 lives and left it in ruins.

    Chechnya has in recent years been more peaceful, but the fighting has spread to Dagestan and Ingushetia, where correspondents say a violent Islamist insurgency is growing.

    In April, President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the end of a decade-long “counter-terrorism operation” in Chechnya, which was supposed to pave the way for the withdrawal of thousands of federal troops.

    But the BBC’s Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Moscow says that the violence of the past five days shows that despite government claims, the insurgency in the North Caucasus is far from being defeated.


  3. NAZRAN, Russia – Militants in Russia’s restive south fatally shot five law enforcement personnel in separate attacks, authorities said Wednesday.

    Two police officers and two elite troops were killed in Chechnya late Tuesday when police engaged in an hour-long gunfight with up to 15 suspected insurgents, who subsequently fled into woodland, Chechnya’s interior ministry said in a statement.

    In neighboring Ingushetia, a court bailiff and a relative were gunned down in their car late Tuesday by unidentified assailants, according to Svetlana Gorbakova, a spokeswoman for the province’s investigative committee.

    Law enforcement officials die daily in violence that plagues the country’s North Caucasus region and is attributed to separatist insurgents, criminal elements and ethnic feuds.

    In Dagestan overnight, fire sparked by a bomb engulfed a police station in the town of Khasavyurt, close to the border with Chechnya. All documents on criminal cases were destroyed, but there were no reported casualties, Dagestan’s interior ministry spokesman Mark Tolchinsky said.

    There were no reports of arrests in any of the violence, as is typical.

    Observers say an upsurge in attacks in recent months _ including an assassination attempt on Ingushetia’s president _ could be a response to increased government efforts to stamp them out.

    Yunus Bek Yevkurov is recovering in a Moscow clinic after a suicide bomber drove a car into his motorcade last month.


    • “Observers say an upsurge in attacks in recent months _ including an assassination attempt on Ingushetia’s president _ could be a response to increased government efforts to stamp them out. ”

      Unnamed “observers” are total idiots.

      Increased efforts to stamp the rebels out are a response to the increased efforts to stamp the government out.

  4. Well said Robert.

    And the rebel attacks roll on:

    Senior Official Shot Dead In Russia’s Ingushetia July 17, 2009
    NAZRAN, Russia (Reuters) — A senior official in the volatile Russian province of Ingushetia has been shot dead, police said, in the latest high-profile killing in the mainly Muslim North Caucasus.

    The minister for sport in the regional administration, Ruslan Balayev, was shot dead in his car, a police source told Reuters.

    Last month an assassination attempt left regional leader Yunus-Bek Yevkurov gravely wounded in hospital.

    “The minister was shot near Nizhny-Achaluki and died of his wounds,” the source said, referring to a village 20 kilometers north of Nazran, Ingushetia’s largest city.

    Ingushetia has overtaken its neighbor Chechnya as the main center of violence along Russia’s turbulent southern flank.

    On July 15, the body of prominent human rights activist Natalya Estemirova was found in Ingushetia hours after she was kidnapped in Chechnya.

    Earlier this month nine Chechen policemen sent to help crush Ingushetia’s insurgency were killed by rebels.

    Analysts say Islamist insurgencies in the North Caucasus have been fuelled in recent months by new recruits bitter at economic hardship and heavy-handed antiterror tactics used by regional leaders.

    In a separate incident on July 17, a policeman was shot dead in the Chechen capital Grozny, Interfax news agency reported, the latest in a daily stream of attacks.


    • And what is ironic, Yevkurov actually started quite well (compared to Zyazikov, and not to Aushev):

      But later he allied himself with Kadyrov of all people, with so-predictable results. Now it’s almost a Kadyrovland II.

      Some analyses on the ongoing Ingush crisis:

      • Btw, some recent words of wisdom about this from hero Kadyrov:

        “We have information from a captured militant that they are given some kind of tablets, and that after taking them, a person comes to resemble a robot, and is in a daze,” Kadyrov said. “They get these tablets from abroad and give them to young people. These are excellently trained workers of Western special services, who are working against the Russian Federation. They are using us, knowing our mentality, knowing that a majority of us are Muslims. They have good supplies and specialists. All of the foreign special services workers are operating against Russia. And the people of Russia accuse us. They think that a war is still going on here, that Chechens are bandits and terrorists. But Chechens are dying while protecting Russia’s [territorial] integrity. Hundreds of thousands died here, thousands of people disappeared without a trace, thousands of police died in battle” (www.izvestia.ru, July 7).

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