CHECHEN REFUGEES HAVE BEEN RESETTLED TO RUINS

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CHECHEN REFUGEES HAVE BEEN RESETTLED TO RUINS

Izvestia, December 4, 2002, p. 3 EV

The Ingushetian Interior Ministry reported yesterday that residents of the Iman refugee camp located near the Aki-Yurt village (the administrative border between Ingushetia and Chechnya) had been resettled to a new place. The statement is rather optimistic: “Over 1,000 refugees… have received more convenient housing in private homes.” But according to our sources, the refugees have been evicted to vacant lots.

Lipkhan Badayeva, a member of the Ingushetian branch of the Memorial human rights group – who visited Iman personally – said: “We have not found anyone who has received housing. I talked to several families leaving for Alkhan-Kala. Their houses are wrecked. They have decided to set up tents on the ruins. Policemen forced refugees to leave the camp.”

Refugees received tents as aid from the United Nations this summer. The authorities permitted them to take the tents because the majority of people moving to Chechnya do not have housing. Only small shanties built by Chechens last year have remained in the camp: Badayeva says that people were still living in 22 of them yesterday. However, migration services promised to demolish the shanties with bulldozers. The majority of refugees have left for Chechnya.

Magomed Gidizov, head of the Chechen administration’s committee for forced migrants, has in effect confirmed reports circulated by human rights groups.

He said: “Active measures began on November 2 after the federal government issued a decree on funding for forced migrants. From now on refugees returning to Chechnya will receive six rubles a day for food and 14 rubles for housing. However, they will not see this money until late December. Refugees have not received housing in Chechnya. However, almost all refugees are villagers – they can easily rent housing from their relatives or friends.”

At present there are four tent camps and five camps located in former factories and farms in Ingushetia. The total number of refugees is 50,000 (according to Gidizov’s committee), 68,000 (according to the Ingushetian Interior Ministry), or 130,000 (according to Memorial). The point is that refugees constantly travel between Chechnya and Ingushetia. The federal budget allocates money to Ingushetia for refugees: 15 rubles a day per capita. The migration service should buy food using this money. According to Gidizova, the federal government pays out “around 80%” of what it should provide for this program. Refugees did not receive anything in April and May, though money was transferred from Moscow. Supervision of Chechen refugees was handed over from the Federation Ministry to the Interior Ministry in June. Gidizov says that misuse of funds stopped after that.

PRIME MINISTER ASKS GERMAN COMPANIES TO CUT EXPORTS TO RUSSIA

Izvestia, December 4, 2002, p. 2 EV

Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov concluded a working visit to Berlin yesterday with the traditional meeting with business leaders. The conversation was unusually frank. For the first time during a visit abroad, the prime minister expressed concern about Russia’s rising imports, hinting to German executives that if they want political support from the Russian government, they should “stop thinking about boosting sales” and start relocating production facilities to Russian territory.

Mikhail Kasianov: “We’re not talking about imposing import restrictions, but neither do we intend to encourage imports.”

The government now faces the serious challenge of “restructuring the economy” – raising the contribution of secondary industry to the GDP. If this is not done within the next three or four years, growth levels of 5-6% per annum will be very difficult to achieve: the raw materials sector, the primary contributor to the GDP, has natural limits to growth. However, most investment in Russia is concentrated in this area, while Russia’s underdeveloped money markets are still unable to ensure a distribution of capital. Under these circumstances, Kasianov believes the chief hope to be new foreign investment in technology-intensive industry.

A restrained attitude with regard to Russia remains prevalent within the German government and the large companies which await its political support. Kasianov attributes this to “remnants of the Cold War” and the desire of foreign entrepreneurs to cover the political risks of investing in Russia with “mega-profits”. But mega-profits in Russia are only provided by the natural resources sector these days.

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