Now we’ve seen everything.
The Beast of Chechnya
It’s almost as if Ramzan Kadyrov, designated and decorated as a national hero of Russia by Vladimir Putin, wants to help us folks here at La Russophobe prove conclusively what an inhuman neo-Soviet monster he is. Why else, we can’t help but wonder, would he publicly say this about Natalia Estemirova:
She never had any honor, dignity or conscience. Why should Kadyrov kill a woman whom nobody needs?
Yes, he referred to himself in the third person. Yes, he accused this single working mother who laid down her life for her beliefs of having no honor. Yes, though she worked tirelessly and selflessly to protect the rights of the defenseless, he said she had no conscience. Yes, he displayed for all the world his absolute contempt for her, confirming his motive to kill her. Yes, he ignored her international reputation and many awards for journalistic and human rights achievement, something very few other Chechnya activists can boast of, and still claimed she mattered to nobody — ignoring too the hundreds of newspapers articles that deluged the worldwide media after her brutal killing.
Well, all we can say is “thank you, Mr. Kadyrov.” You’ve made our argument with your own words far better than we could ever dream of doing. And, of course, the continued support of our maniacal, malignant, homicidal regime by the Moscow Kremlin tells the world all it needs to know about that regime as well.
Radio Free Europe has more analysis of the psychopathic ravings of this bloodthirsty, homicidal maniac who is Russia’s “hero.”
No sooner had we published special issue devoted to exposing the extent to which Vladimir Putin has failed and lost control in the Caucasus than an exclamation point was added painted in the blood of yet one more fallen Russian patriot.
Prize-winning Russian journalist Natalya Estemirova, who may be viewed as a successor to Anna Politkovskaya, has been murdered in Chechnya in order to silence her fearless reporting on human rights abuses by the Kremlin in that tortured region. In October 2007, she spoke for Politkovskaya on the pages of The Nation magazine. Today, the magazine is eulogizing her.
Estemirova was kidnapped and then shot in the head in the manner of a mafia contract hit, her body dumped in the gutter like a piece of garbage.
She is the latest in a long line of political murders obviously carried out by the Kremlin to silence its critics (the Kremlin’s puppet in Chechnya had openly threatened her life), a history that dates back to Vladimir Putin’s first months in office with the liquidation of human rights activist Galina Starovoitova.
Once again, the Kremlin will remain silent at this barbaric outrage. Once again, no killers will be brought to justice. Once again, we will ask how many heroic Russians must give their lives before the American administration will stand up for democracy and justice in Russia. The European Union has spoken out strongly, we await their plan of action. If President Obama remains silent on this killing, his silence will be even more reprehensible than that of her Kremlin killers and history will condemn him. Mr. Obama has no more time to wait. He must speak now, and then he must act.
Mairbek Vatchagaev, writing on the Jamestown Foundation’s Eurasia Daily Monitor:
Today, the northwestern part of the North Caucasus region (comprised of the republics of Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachaevo-Cherkessia and Adygeya) is increasingly becoming one large battlefield. An affluent resort area during the Soviet period, today the region attracts very few Russian visitors, primarily due to its instability. According to the most optimistic estimates, tourist traffic to the world-renowned ski resort of Dombai in Karachaevo-Cherkessia alone declined by 70-90 percent last winter (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, December 31, 2008), and the number of foreign visitors substantially decreased. The summer season is unlikely to bring changes for the better, as the entire region is affected by the large-scale military drills that were conducted along the length of the border it shares with Georgia. Russian First Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Kolmakov described the current maneuvers as the largest in the area since the Soviet Union’s collapse (www.skavkaz.rfn.ru, May 19).
Sergei Markedonov, head of the department of inter-ethnic relations at Russia’s Institute for Political and Military Analysis, and associate professor at RGGU and MGU, writing on Prague Watchdog:
With every day that passes, the socio-political situation in the North Caucasus increasingly gives grounds for alarming conclusions and prognostications. Possibly the only attempt in the past ten years to provide at least some kind of coherent interpretation of the North Caucasus crisis was made by President Dmitry Medvedev, who in June 2009 listed the region’s main problems, which he termed “systemic.” Among them he included unemployment, “a monstrous scale of corruption” and the inefficiency of government. As is often the case, the president’s “systemic” approach quickly became a fashion among Russian officials. Discussing the incident which took place in the Stepnovsky district of Stavropol on June 21 (a large-scale clash between Dargins and Nogays), the governor of Stavropol Kray said that “160 young people cannot have a personal dislike for each other … Specific individuals can have personal grievances, but when nearly two hundred people are involved it means there is a systemic problem.”
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.”
Amnesty International has just released a review of “president” Dima Medvedev’s first year in office, in essence branding Medvedev a shameless liar for representing liberal intentions to the world when he took office. A month ago, when Medvedev announced Russian forces would withdraw from Chechnya (and before he withdrew that declaration and ordered a major new military campaign to quell terrorism), AI condemned Russia’s barbaric history of human rights violations in Chechnya and declared there could be no peace until Russia acknowledged its culpability and paid the appropriate price:
Russia announced the end of its decade long “counter-terrorism operation” in Chechnya on Thursday, claiming that “normality” had returned to the territory. Amnesty International has warned that normalization is not possible without full accountability for the gross human rights violations of the last 10 years. “The true benchmark of a return to normality is to give people what they have been wanting for over a decade – they want the truth, and they want justice,” said Irene Khan, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.”They want to know the fate and whereabouts of relatives and friends who are among the disappeared, and they want those responsible brought to account. Only thorough and independent investigations into past and continuing human rights violations can bring normalization and security in Chechnya. Such investigations will be a deterrent to future violations. Opening the region to independent observers and journalists would be a signal that the authorities there are ready for transparency, but a change of status is absolutely meaningless without the political will to change reality.”
To sum up the results of a series of actions is the easiest thing to do, because the actions contain links that demonstrate tendencies, they hide the codes of a future that has not yet been fully revealed, but can be guessed. To analyze a void is not more difficult – it is not possible at all. A vacuum is aggressively silent, sending in response to all questions a guarded “I wasn’t here, am not here now, and won’t be here in the future.” Nevertheless, the upside of what happens when a void gapes in the space that is organized by human activity is that by its silence it exposes the poverty and futility of articulation.
On April 16th, Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin announced the end of “counter-terrorist operations” in Chechnya. In other words: Mission accomplished!
Oops. On April 24th, it reinstated them.
Jeremy Putley draws our attention to some brilliant reporting from the Times of London exposing the murdering legions of dictator Vladimir Putin:
THE hunt for a nest of female suicide bombers in Chechnya led an elite group of Russian special forces commandos to a small village deep in the countryside. There they surrounded a modest house just before dawn to be sure of catching their quarry unawares. When the order came to storm the single-storey property, dozens of heavily armed men in masks and camouflage uniforms – unmarked to conceal their identity – had no difficulty in overwhelming the three women inside. Their captives were driven to a military base. The soldiers were responding to a tip-off that the eldest of the three, who was in her forties, had been indoctrinating women to sacrifice themselves in Chechnya’s ferocious war between Islamic militants and the Russians. The others captured with her were her latest recruits. One was barely 15.
“At first the older one denied everything,” said a senior special forces officer last week. “Then we roughed her up and gave her electric shocks. She provided us with good information. Once we were done with her we shot her in the head. “We disposed of her body in a field. We placed an artillery shell between her legs and one over her chest, added several 200-gram TNT blocks and blew her to smithereens. The trick is to make sure absolutely nothing is left. No body, no proof, no problem.” The technique was known as pulverisation.
The young recruits were taken away by another unit for further interrogation before they, too, were executed.
More of Putin’s Russia at its Very Worst
The world is being treated to yet another brutal, vivid illustration of Vladimir Putin’s Russia at its very most horrifying. Perhaps, this time, it will finally open its eyes and see Russia as it really is.
Even as the Russian blogosphere was humiliating itself by refusing to believe that Sulim Yamadayev, a staunch critic of the Kremlin’s puppet regime in Chechnya, had been assassinated in Dubai last week (LJ breathlessly claimed he was still alive), authorities in UAE were preparing an indictment charging that Yamadeyev’s killing had been directly ordered not just by the Chechen rogue regime itself but by its representative in the Russian Duma, one Adam S. Delimkhanov, one of Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov’s closest adivsors. Of course, as was the case with Andrei Lugovoi in the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko in London, Russia will refuse to do anything to support the investigation in Dubai even as it demands that the West extradite figures of interest to the Kremlin like Boris Berezovsky.
What’s more, Dubai police were reporting that four suspects in the killing, including three Russian nationals, had fled from UAE to Russia in order to escape arrest, while one Russian national had been arrested along with an Iranian and a Tajik.
Hero journalist Yulia Latynina, writing in the Moscow Times:
Last week, Saak Karapetyan, head of the international cooperation department of the Prosecutor General’s Office, gave an interview to Interfax in which he clarified the most important criminal cases in his agency.
It turns out that the most pressing cases are extraditing former Yevroset chairman Yevgeny Chichvarkin, billionaire Boris Berezovsky, Chechen separatist Akhmed Zakayev, former Russneft owner Mikhail Gutseriyev and former Yukos co-owner Leonid Nevzlin. And then there is the criminal case against State Duma Deputy Andrei Lugovoi, who faces murder charges in Britain in connection with the 2006 poisoning death of Alexander Litvinenko in London.
Torture in a Volgograd prison, 2009
by Jeremy Putley
How Chechen prisoners are treated under President Dmitry Medvedev
It is a principle universally recognized, in countries governed by the rule of law, that imprisonment following conviction is all the penalty the law allows. Torture of prisoners is not any part of the punishment demanded by society. But in the Russian Federation, under the presidency of Dmitry Medvedev, that principle apparently does not apply, considering the evidence of numerous cases of which one of the most shocking is that of an imprisoned Chechen, Zubair Zubairaev.
The Moscow Times reports more proof of how very well Russian dictator Vladimir Putin is doing keeping the peace in the Chechnya region. Send our athletes there in 2014 for the Olympics? That would be suicide.
Three days of intense fighting between police and insurgents in a wooded area of Dagestan ended Saturday with five officers and about a dozen militants left dead, officials said. Clashes are frequent in Dagestan, but the fighting in an area near the border with Georgia and Azerbaijan was some of the most intense in recent months. Helicopter gunships fired on the militant positions.
The Devils of Lithuania
by Jeremy Putley
Original to La Russophobe
Heroes and heroines are found in lots of unlikely places. I have only recently heard about the remarkable story of Kadijat and Malik Gatayev, Chechens living in Lithuania.
The Associated Press reports:
Russia must pay damages to the families of 13 Chechens presumed dead after being abducted during armed raids between 2001 and 2003 in Chechnya, the European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday. The court — the legal arm of the Council of Europe rights watchdog — said Russia was responsible for the men’s disappearances and should pay damages and court fees totaling around euro531,000 ($679,000).
RTT News reports:
At least six policemen were killed in Russia’s volatile North Caucasus republic of Ingushetia when a bomb they were trying to defuse went off, said officials on Thursday. Local police authorities said that the incident happened near a cemetery on the edge of the village of Surkhakhi. They said the dead included local law enforcement chiefs and added that two of those injured in the blast were “in a serious condition”.
Ingushetia has seen frequent clashes between insurgents and Russian security forces ever since Chechnya’s post-Soviet independence movement was launched in 1994. Though the active phase of the Russian operations against Chechnya’s rebels are over, sporadic militant attacks occur in Chechnya and neighboring republics. Various human rights organizations claim that the violence in the Muslim-dominated Ingushetia has increased after the war in Chechnya ended, and say that at least 90 people have been killed there since August.
A letter to the editor of the Guardian newspaper:
Today is World Chechnya Day. On this day in 1944 Stalin deported the entire Chechen population of 500,000 people to Siberia and Kazakhstan, where almost half of them perished in 13 years of exile.
Sixty-five years on, the Chechen people are still suffering. After the collapse of the Soviet Union Chechnya existed as an independent state in all but name before Russian troops invaded in 1994. Following a bloody war, a peace accord was signed and democratic elections were held in Chechnya in 1997, only for Vladimir Putin to order its invasion in 1999, resulting in the displacement of several hundred thousand refugees and the death of another 100,000 civilians.
The Kremlin now claims that the war is over and that there is peace and stability in the region. The reality is that the intensive bombings have been replaced with a regime of fear and oppression which has eroded civil society in Chechnya and suppressed any open and democratic voice. Visits are carefully choreographed for western journalists and dignitaries. They do not see the daily realities of Moscow-imposed Ramzan Kadyrov’s rule.
The facade of stability is dangerous. The only way to establish lasting peace in Chechnya is through free and fair elections, which last took place over 10 years ago. On this World Chechnya Day, we urge President Medvedev to find a genuine political settlement that will finally put an end to an entire people’s suffering.
Ivar Amundsen Director, Chechnya Peace Forum,
Malcolm Rifkind MP, Andrew Motion, Ken Loach, Prof AC Grayling, Dr Benjamin Zephaniah, Andre Glucksmann, Aki Kaurismäki, Prof Brendan Simms, Jonathan Heawood, Glen Howard, Danny Alexander MP, Raymond Jolliffe, Nicolas Rea, Peter Tatchell
Open Democracy reports on the minting of a brand new human rights activist:
The human rights organisation Memorial has representatives all over Russia and neighbouring countries. How do ordinary people become human rights advocates? And how do they work with the European Court of Human Rights? Dokka was head official of his village in Chechnya when he became involved, during Russia’s first war against Chechnya. This is his remarkable, typical, story.
Dokka’s hair is streaked with grey, but there is a sparkle in his eyes. He met me in a small room in a hotel near Moscow, where legal experts, monitors and lawyers from regional Memorial offices were attending a special seminar about changes in Russian immigration legislation. He greeted me like the owner of a small and shaky house, but a real one for all that: in the next room, women were setting the table for tea. Dokka introduced me to Chechen human rights activists, and told me how he ended up among them almost by accident, when he left his job at an agricultural enterprise.
“At dawn, there was a sharp, imperative knock at the door.
Putin’s Chechen Chickens, Roosting
With every day that passes it becomes more and more clear that the centerpiece of Vladimir Putin’s claim to fame, pacifying Chechnya, is all smoke and mirrors.
On November 2nd, a small bomb went off in Russia’s breakaway province of Ingushetia. When police responded in force, a larger explosion occurred and seven officers were injured. Once again, the Russians had fallen for the trap. The Times of India reported: “‘Many policemen resign. Why should they risk their lives for 200 dollars a month? Everyone is afraid,’ said an official who oversees finances at the regional Interior Ministry, speaking under condition of anonymity.”
Just days before, the Ingushetian rebels had forced the Putin regime to withdraw its handpicked puppet ruler of the region, Murat Zyazikov, and “spontaneous dancing broke out in the streets.” Vladimir Putin’s policies in the region have resulted in total failure, not only in terms of managing Ingushetia from within but also in terms of denying the rebels incentives to rise up based on Russia’s foreign policy. The Kremlin’s demand of freedom for Ossetia and Abkhazia from Georgian rule is viewed in Ingushetia as a blank check to revolution. In a clear indication of this failure, Zyazikov is being replaced with a military dictator.
And we report today on a massive suicide bombing attack last week, perhaps Chechen-instigated, in the heart of Russia’s newly annexed province of Ossetia.
Though Putin claims to have pacified and rebuilt Chechnya, the Kremlin’s policy of denying foreign journalists the right to travel in the country without chaperones belies this claim. As Radio Free Europe reports: “Nine years and thousands of destroyed lives later, Chechnya remains a bleak and desolate place, its cemeteries filled with fresh graves, evidence of the war still visible amid the Potemkin villages hastily erected by the local strongman, Ramzan Kadyrov, to impress the occasional visitor. “ In fact, not only has Chechnya itself not been resolved, it is now spreading the contagion of revolution throughout the region, most pointedly in Ingushetia.
The Moscow Times reports:
A female suicide bomber blew herself up near a busy downtown market in North Ossetia’s capital, Vladikavkaz, on Thursday, killing at least 10 people and wounding 40 others, authorities said. The bombing is the first terrorist attack targeting civilians since Dmitry Medvedev assumed the presidency six months ago and the first to involve a female suicide bomber since the 2004 school attack in Beslan, which is also in North Ossetia.
No one claimed immediate responsibility for Thursday’s blast. Security analysts said it bore the hallmarks of an attack by Chechen extremists.
Armed men drove into Russia’s Ingushetia region and abducted up to 15 people including policemen from a checkpoint and a slot machine parlour, police and witnesses said on Friday. Witnesses said the gunmen, dressed in camouflage, entered Ingushetia from neighbouring Chechnya late on Thursday and presented themselves as police officers. Chechen authorities said they had nothing to do with the raid. Islamist groups fighting an insurgency in Ingushetia against Moscow’s rule frequently target gambling halls and shops selling alcohol, saying they contradict Islam. The Kremlin has been struggling for decades to suppress armed rebellions in its north Caucasus region. Chechnya, scene of two wars, has been largely quelled but the violence has now shifted to Ingushetia, where shootouts and ambushes are common.
Last Saturday, rebels in Ingushetia attacked a column of heavily armed Russian interior ministry soldiers and killed at least three of them, injuring three times as many. Opposition sources claimed Russian officials were lying about the number of fatalities, and claimed up to 50 soldiers actually having fallen.
Then this past Tuesday, rebels in Dagestan attacked a squadron of police officers and killed at least five of them, injuring twice as many.
These events show clearly that the Kremlin’s desperation over its manifest policy failure in the region, leading to a massive revival of separatist activity and the KGB regime’s assasination last month of a leading opposition leader in Ingushetia, was fully justified.
And they could not be coming at a worse moment.
This Friday, October 10th, is a big day for human rights in Russia, for two different reasons. First, it is the day on which Russia has promised to withdraw all of its military forces from Georgia proper. And second, it is the day the world will learn whether Lidia Yusupova (pictured above), one of almost 200 nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize 2008, has been awarded it. Last year, in a ridiculous affront to those like Yusupova who daily risk their lives struggling for human rights, the award was given to former U.S. vice president Al Gore — who has never risked his life for any cause at any time, much less human rights – for his work on climate change. By giving the award to Yusupova, the Nobel Committee can do justice not only for the thousands of victims of Russian atrocities in Chechnya, which are repeatedly documented before the European Court for Human Rights, but also for Anna Politkovskaya, who championed the same cause as Yusupova and was murdered because of her courage. Yusupova has received the same kind of threats as Politkovskaya did, and it is well past time that the world began to take steps in honor of her memory.
The New York Times reports:
The men who set fire to Valentina Basargina’s house arrived in the stillness of 3 a.m. There were three of them. Each wore a camouflage uniform and carried a rifle. One held a can of gasoline. They wore masks. They led Ms. Basargina and her son outside and splashed gasoline in their two rooms, she and her relatives said. One man produced a T-shirt, knotted onto a stick. It was damp with gas.
“This is for the one who is gone,” he said in thickly accented Russian. Ms. Basargina’s nephew had recently disappeared; the police had said he joined the small but smoldering insurgency fighting for Chechnya’s independence from Russia.
The man lit the torch and tossed it inside. The air whooshed. Flames shot through the house.