WARNING: This post, a translation from the website of the Russian human rights organization Memorial, deals with gruesome acts of violence in the war-torn breakaway republic of Chechnya. Following the text is a series of explicit photographs of civilian casualties resulting from a Russian “anti-terrorist” campaign. The photos are very disturbing and all readers are advised to exercise caution in deciding the click the jump and view the entire post. You can read the text without seeing the photographs by scrolling carefully and stopping where the text ends and the photos are marked to begin.
This translation has been prepared by LR staff. As always, corrections are welcome and encouraged.
Hat tip: Reader “Robert.”
Lethal Garlic: More “accidental” fatalities in Ingushetia
February 15, 2010
On February 11-12, 2010, in a forest on the border of Ingushetia and Chechnya, near the Ingush villages of Arshty and Datta, a special military operation was conducted by Russian forces. The government reported on the destruction of a large detachment of rebel fighters and denied that any civilian casualties had occurred. However, on February 12th we began receiving reports that there had in fact been civilians killed, and the next day we visited Arshty. The following day we visited the Achkoi-Martan district in Chechnya. Working with representatives of Human Rights Watch, we interviewed dozens of witnesses. As a result, we can confidently assert that in the region where the operation was carried out were a large number of civilian residents and at least four of them were killed.
The assault carried out by federal forces began with a missile barrage in the early morning hours on February 11th. It continued throughout the day, ceased with the onset of darkness and then resumed the next day at dawn. Federal forces initially reported that the cadre of rebel fighters numbered 15-25, and it was reported that from half to nearly all of them had been killed. The President of Ingushetia, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, visited the area on February 12th and claimed that 18 rebels had been killed. A list of various wanted figures was given by Ingushetia’s Prosecutor Yury Turygin as having been killed in the attack.
But we learned on February 12th that among those killed were also civilians who had been in the nearby woods gathering wild garlic, and the reports we received were confirmed by the president’s press secretary in an interview with Echo of Moscow radio, where he stated: “During the course of the special operation about 70 local residents were evacuated from the woods where they had been collecting wild garlic, but unfortunately four of them came under fire and were killed.” The president did not include these victims with the 18 persons killed in the raid. [Story reported in English by RIA Novosti on February 13th here.]
To see for ourselves, Memorial staff left for Arshty on the afternoon of February 13th. The villagers confirmed that there had been civilian casualties, including children. On the south-eastern outskirts of Arshty Memorial was shown the bodies of seven adults, six wrapped in sleeping bags, perhaps to identify the remains of militant fighters.