Chechnya remains a "hot point" of Russia


Despite the permanently repeated statements of the authorities of Chechnya about the “final and irrevocable” peace established there and about a full defeat of the militants, facts manifesting the absence of full stability and activeness of the militants are still registered in the republic. This conclusion is drawn by website Kavkazsky Uzel. The website reported that in a month, members of the illegal armed forces of separatists established temporary control over populated spots of Chechnya twice. Instability is also manifested by information about the deaths of servicemen attacked by the militants. Thus, an attempt to blow up a military column was undertaken on April 21 in the Leninsky District of Grozny. One serviceman of the Interior Forces was wounded as a result of an explosion. An officer of the Interior Forces was killed on April 20 in the mountainous Vedeno District of Chechnya in the course of an armed clash with the militants. Another serviceman was wounded.

A captain of the police was kidnapped on April 17 in Assinovskaya by two unknown people and taken to an unknown place. The policeman was found dead later.

Incidentally, activeness of the militants is growing against the background of the confrontation between servicemen of battalion East of the Main Intelligence Department and the local Chechen police. Along with this, Tomas Hammerberg, human rights commissioner of the Council of Europe, worked in Chechnya between Monday and Wednesday. Observers remarked that in the course of the visit of Hammerberg to the Chechen Republic, the conflict between representatives of various security agencies and local police and facts of murders of civilians and actions of militants were somehow of little interest for him. According to Hammerberg, his visit to the Chechen Republic was dedicated not only to meetings with Chechen officials but also to meetings with ordinary people to “evaluate the situation there objectively.” Hammerberg visited some schools, boarding schools and other social institutions.

Hammerberg met with Isa Surguev, head of the operational and search bureau-2 (ORB-2), who reported that “in the last nine months during which he was the head of the ORB-2, the institution was open to representatives of the human rights organizations and journalists, both local and federal, to the maximum extent.” The European Union commissioner was evidently impressed by this and he announced, “I talked to the prisoners and understood that no violence was applied to them by law-enforcement agents.”

Incidentally, a year ago, Hammerberg visited Chechnya and reported that facts of tortures of the prisoners were revealed then. Now, according to Hammerberg, the progress regarding the rights of prisoners in Chechnya is obvious.

However, Hammerberg was in Chechnya only for a few days. How can he judge about what is going on with such assurance? Such behavior of the human rights commissioner of the European Union raises questions. Hammerberg promised that the Council of Europe would provide assistance to Chechen authorities in opening a laboratory for the exhumation and identification of bodies. The opening of such laboratory has been discussed for a few years but there is no progress yet. Meanwhile, Hammerberg is very concerned about the fact that in the past the people sentenced under tortures provided “false testimonies.”

He announced, “Like I said, tortures in Chechnya belong to the past including the tortures in the ORB-2. Along with this, we should not forget about those from whom the evidences were beaten out under pressure. Many people who have been tortured are now in prison. Their cases should be revised by the courts and judges should have responsible and serious attitude to this.”

It is possible to draw several important conclusions from this. First, in Chechnya and in other hot spots of the North Caucasus, international human rights activists are interested only in a narrow circle of issues related to the rights of prisoners of war, criminals, etc. Definitely, the attitude towards them should be humane. However, we cannot miss the fact that the situation in the republic remains difficult and people keep dying there. Why is the Council of Europe not interested in this?

First, Russian authorities attract human rights activists who propose the search for missing people, the exhumation of unidentified corpses etc to Russian authorities for a longtime according to initiative of Chechen public. However, our government does not hear them. For example, a year ago the ombudsman of Chechnya, Nurdi Nukhazhiev, turned to Hammerberg with a request of assistance to the organization of a federal commission in Chechnya for search for missing (kidnapped) people. The request was repeated during the present visit. Nukhazhiev addressed the European commissioner once again, “The need for such a commission was conveyed to the President of Russia, leaders of the Duma and Federation Council, top-ranking officials of the law-enforcement agencies of Russia. Now we expect that you will support our initiative at a meeting with the authorities of the country.” What about our state officials? Why is it necessary to lobby the organization of a commission for search for missing (kidnapped) people through international human rights institutions?