Following a decision of the Conference of Presidents a five Member ad hoc Delegation to Chechnya was constituted on 10 July 2002. It was mandated to report back to Parliament on the political situation and the living situation of the people in Chechnya, on the humanitarian situation and EU aid and on the Human Rights situation.
This mandate was reconfirmed by Parliament's resolution of 15 May 2003.
In the course of its meetings on 4 September, 23 October, 21 November, 18 December 2002, 16 January, 31 March, 9 April and 5 June 2003, the delegation had ample opportunity to hear governmental and non-governmental organisations and agencies active in the field of humanitarian aid, civic assistance and Human Rights questions in the North Caucasus Region.
The delegation also had a preparatory joint meeting with the respective Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and with its rapporteur and met with representatives of the OSCE and with the Chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs, Mr D. ROGOZIN, both in Strasbourg and Moscow.
The delegtion organised its visit to the region in close cooperation and with the excellent help of the European Commission's Delegation in Moscow and in close contact to the European Council's Troika delegation to Chechnya.
At its meeting on 26 June 2003 the delegation finalised his report.
Mr Reino PAASILINNA, PSE, Chair
Mrs Gabriele STAUNER, PPE-ED
Mrs Minerva M. MALLIORI, PSE
Mr Bart STAES, Verts/ALE
Mr Helmuth MARKOV, GUE/NGL
Mr Reino PAASILINNA, PSE, Chair
Mr Arie OOSTLANDER, PPE-ED, Deputy Chair
Mr Bart STAES, Verts/ALE
Mr G. Claudio FAVA, PSE
B. DISCUSSION OF MAIN ISSUES, ON THE BASIS OF TALKS HELD AND IMPRESSIONS GATHERED
Situation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) living in camps in Ingushetia.
In a meeting with the Prime Minister and other ministers of the government of Ingushetia, the Delegation was told that there are at present 64 000 Chechnyan IDPs in Ingushetia. About a fourth of them would live in tent camps. There are also around 60 000 Ingushetian IDPs who were forced to leave North Ossetia eleven years ago.
According to the humanitarian aid NGO Médécins Sans Frontières (MSF), eight tent camps for Chechnyan IDPs exist, out of which three are unofficial. A survey carried out by the MSF in the beginning of this year is broadly consistent with the Ingushetian authorities' report on the number of inhabitants.
The MSF survey reports that 98 per cent of the inhabitants in the tent camps do not want to return to Chechnya in the near future. 93 per cent expressed fear for the security of their family and many cited lack of housing. The Aki Yurt camp in Ingushetia was closed by force on 1 December 2002. According to the MSF survey, various types of pressures continue to be exerted by the authorities for people to leave camps, albeit in a less visible fashion than before. The Bart camp would, however, appear to be an exception.
In order to provide better conditions for some of the inhabitants of the tent camps, the MSF has constructed simple houses which it says comprise 180 rooms. The authorities have blocked the use of them.
The Delegation was taken to the Bart camp. As throughout its visit to the North Caucasus, it was escorted by a number of soldiers and security staff in uniforms or civilian clothes, armed with sub-machine guns. It was rapidly surrounded by a large number of women living in the camp and the Delegation noted that very few young or middle-aged men were visible. Some few inhabitants initially expressed doubts on the usefulness of talking to the Delegation, mentioning that many other delegations had already visisted the camp and that this has led to no concrete result whatsoever. They ceded, however, soon enough to a compulsion to tell about relatives who had disappeared in Chechnya and their own fear of going back as well as about difficult conditions in the camp, including tents which get hot in summer and freezing cold in winter. One woman said she suffered from tubercolosis. The Delegation was brought to a tent where a gravely handicapped eight year old boy was lying, and it was urged to do what it could to ensure that the boy would receive adequate medical care.
One old woman expressed deep gratitude to the President of Ingushetia for ensuring that assistance was given to a mother who due to a deep psychological trauma, acquired when witnessing an extremely violent event in Chechnya, was unable to take care of her ten children.
In a few places, the lines of tents were interrupted. Inhabitants of the camp told that tents that had earlier stood there had been taken down after their inhabitants had returned to Chechnya. Questions aimed at finding out whether any pressure to leave was being exerted received negative answers.
The Delegation did not note any signs of undernourishment. The camp appeared reasonably clean and there was no bad smell. The organisation of school, childrens playgrounds and health service seemed efficient. ECHO signs were visible on several tents and a Red Cross sign was mounted close to the entrance of the camp.
As regards the MSF houses that stand empty, ministers told that they were in fact highly inflammable 'cages' and that the use of them had been blocked in the interest of the security of the potential inhabitants. At the same time, unwillingness on the part of the MSF to cooperate with the authorities and respect all relevant administrative procedures was repeatedly referred to.
At the request of the Delegation, a brief visit to the 'cages' was made before the crossing of the border to Chechnya. What was shown was a number of newly built standardised huts of only one layer of carton walls which indeed appeared inflammable. They did, however, not bear any resemblance to the houses on a photo in the MSF report mentioned above. It remains to be checked who built the huts the Delegation was shown and from where the photo in the MSF report originates.
The hosts of the Delegation pointed out that the presence of more than 100 000 IDPs is a considerable burden for the small and poor Republic of Ingushetia. The unemployment rate is said to be 80 per cent. Nevertheless, the Delegation noted a construction boom affecting virtually all parts of the republic through which it was travelling. An entirely new district outside the capital of Nasran, linked to the city by a highway, was being erected. On the fringes of this district, a palace for the President had been built and this was flanked by new government and parliament buildings. The airport of Nasran features a new terminal building and a big, separate VIP building where the Delegation was received. Many new and seemingly expensive villas and new smaller houses could be seen. According to one source, these generally belong to Chechens.
Working conditions of humanitarian NGOs, the UNICEF and the World Food Prgramme
The working conditions of relief organisations must be described as extreme. For months, international staff have had virtually no access at all to Chechnya. For the distribution of aid and running of assistance programmes in Chechnya, they therefore have to rely entirely on persons with whom they have established contacts earlier. Despite repeated requests, the authorities do not permit the organisations to use radio communication. When this issue was brought up by the Delegation in its meeting with civilian and military leaders in Grozny, the acting Chechen Prime Minister gave an ironic reply, suggesting that what the aid organisations really wanted was to listen to the BBC. In the absence of other possibilities to stay in touch with their collaborators inside Chechnya, the representatives of aid organisations living in Ingushetia meet their collaborators there.
Access to Chechnya is, in effect, governed by assessments of the security situation issued by the Federal Security Service (FSB). These assessments have for a long time been negative.
Presumably mainly due to the risk of kidnapping, security arrangements are extremely comprehensive also in Ingushetia. The kidnapping of the MSF's head of mission in Daghestan, Mr Arjan Erkel, in August 2002 and the fact that he is still missing is a chilling reminder of the very real nature of the kidnapping risk throughout the region. Both in Moscow and in the North Caucasus, the Delegation urged interlocutors to do their utmost to get Mr Erkel freed. The Minister of Socio-economic Development in Chechnya, Mr Ilyasov, said that a high-level task force, of which he himself was a member, had been set up by the federal authorities for the purpose.
As a result of the kidnapping risk, the necessity always to be accompanied by bodyguards and different restrictions imposed for security reasons, the living conditions of international staff of humanitarian aid organisations are no doubt difficult.
The relationship between the MSF and the Ingushetian authorities is clearly strained. Sweeping allegations were made against the MSF in the meeting with the Ingushetian Prime Minister and other Ministers. According to them, the MSF would for not very clear reasons not have a sufficiently cooperative attitude towards the Ingushetian authorities. The MSF is a trusted ECHO partner and the Delegation has seen no evidence of any wrongdoing on its part. The way in which the MSF operates and criticisms it makes of taxes imposed on humanitarian aid shipments must be supposed to be motivated by a wish to ensure that the assistance reaches those in need of it as rapidly as possible, with minimal losses.
The security situation in Chechnya
The security arrangements surrounding the Delegation were very extensive. On the road to Grozny, a tank or armored personnel carrier was parked at roughly every kilometer. There were a number of road blocks and small groups of soldiers were seen in very many places. On one occasion - during a visit to the almost completed new headquarters of the civilian administration in Chechnya, which will replace that destroyed by a truck bomb in December last year - fire from a sub-machine gun was heard at a distance. There was no other signal that fighting would actually have occurred.
As is well-known through the reporting of international news agencies, a wave of suicide attacks has followed the referendum on a new constitution held on 23 March 2003. Although in general aiming at killing representatives of the civilian administration or members of the armed forces, these attacks have been carrried out in ways that could only lead to massive losses of lives of ordinary people happening to be at the scene. Together with the theater siege in Moscow in the end of last year and earlier events, the intensified, indiscriminate suicide attacks clearly represent a terrorist aspect of the Chechnyan conflict.
While it would be deeply irresponsible to play down the importance of this aspect, it would also be irresponsible - and probably fatal for the search for a path to peace in Chechnya - to categorise all rebels as terrorists, conclude that no talks with them are possible and fail to analyse how violence breeds more violence in the republic.
Sweep operations by the Russian army and security forces, followed by the 'disappearance' of persons detained, have recently become less frequent. They seem, however, to have been replaced by an ever greater number of night-time abductions of people from their homes. Human rights NGOs have registers of many hundreds of disappeared persons and testimonies which, as regards abductions, typically mention masked men using army and security forces vehicles. A few cases brought to the European Court of Human Rights have recently been declared admissible. NGOs also have information about massgraves. Some statements of officials, reports in the Russian press, including the Izvestija newspaper, and documents presented by NGOs as leaked official documents provide further evidence that atrocities are committed by the army and security forces. Somewhat greater clarity could be achieved if the Russian government would fully cooperate with relevant UN bodies and agreed to publish the reports prepared by the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture after its visits to Chechnya.
Getting out of the cycle of violence is obviously all the more difficult if serious crimes go unpunished. There is strong evidence that this is even the case with crimes committed by federal servicemen in Chechnya.
The Delegation was requested by NGOs in Moscow to ask for the whereabouts of two men who were apprehended by federal forces on 8 June and were missing since then. The answer it got when politely asking the General Prosecutor for the Chechnyan Republic to provide information on these two men inspired no confidence. The General Prosecutor declared that he had not come to the meeting to answer such questions, but to give an account of statistics on crime. Only at a later meeting in Moscow the delegation received a promise that the fate of the two men would be investigated.
Physical destruction and reconstruction in Grozny. Living conditions.
The scale of the physical destruction in Grozny appears to be worse than that Sarajevo suffered. Almost all of the many high-rise block of appartments have been bombed and burnt out and reduced to skeletons of concrete, in some places torn asunder where a bomb dropped from the sky or a series of tank shells must have hit. What used to be the centre of Grozny has been reduced to an extensive wasteland virtually void even of ruins, colonised by weeds and with a grazing goat occassionally passing by. In other parts of the town, people live on the lower floors of tall buildings and in lower houses which are in better condition. Rather many people could be seen in the streets in what has now become the centre of the town. Sidewalks there were occupied by vendors of vegetables and other food.
Switched-on electrical lamps could be seen in a few places, although the Delegation left Grozny before dusk. One of reportedly fourteen reconstructed sewage pump stations was shown. It was, however, not in use, due to the condition of the surrounding buildings, which lacked functioning sewage pipes and, almost everywhere, even outer walls.
The Delegation visited a primary school building, a hospital and a kindergarten. In the school, there were no children at the time, but two classrooms with chairs and benches of an appropriate size were shown to the delegation. In the gym, the Delegation noted a giant punch ball which was suspended from the roof. The hospital building was in full use. The Delegation listened to a brief account of how it functioned and what equipment it lacked or had. Late in the afternoon, a kindergarten was visited. It had earlier received a visit of the acting President of Chechnya and was equipped with colourful toys.
The constitutional process and proposed attempts at reconciliation and peace-building
The ad hoc delegation in the course of its meetings recognised the attempts of the Russian Federation administration and of the administration of the Chechen Republic to stabilize the political situation by means of a constitutional process.
The referendum of 23 March 2003, the amnesty adopted by the Russian Federal Assembly on 6 June 2003, the 1st Meeting of the Chechen State Council on 21 June in Grozny, the current preparation of an agreement on delimitations of power between the Federal administration and the Chechen Republic are all to be seen as steps on the path towards confidence and institution building.
This was in particular substantiated by comments of Minister ILIASOV on the importance now attached to the Human Rights situation and his favouring a reopening the OSCE offices in Chechnya with a full mandate as well as by comments by Mr. MOKOMODOV, who also underlined the fact that a political p
However, the ongoing fighting in Chechnya and the latest terrorist acts such as the suicide attack of Friday, 20 June 2003, give proof that there is still no end in sight to the bloodshed, and that the political process seems to be too weak to lead to a peaceful solution after so many years of warfare.
The ad hoc delegation realised that steps towards a peaceful future and in particular peace talks with the objective of reunification of the people of Chechnya in a Chechen Republic of autonomous character within the Russian Federation cannot be achieved without interlocutors of all sides being genuinely committed to the search for peace.
The case of Arjan ERKEL
The case and fate of Mr Arjan ERKEL, the MSF collaborator who was abducted in August 2002 in Dagestan, and who is missing since without any news of his situation, was raised at all talks and meetings that could prove useful in order to underline the importance the EU attaches to Mr Erkel safe return from abduction.
1. Chechnya should not be forgotten.
In a recent resolution, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe concluded that 'The Council of Europe cannot be what it claims to be while this grave situation continues. We are all diminished'. For the EU also, it is impossible to neglect this bleeding scar in Europe.
The EU is at present active mainly in providing humanitarian aid, through ECHO and its NGO partners.The difficulties the EU has experienced so far in its attempts to promote a peaceful settlement of the conflict risk leading to resignation. Abstaining from renewing and intensifying these attempts is, however, not an option, because:
- this would be deeply disrespectful towards all those suffering from the conflict
- it would cost the EU a loss of credibility, since it has commited itself to the promotion of peace, human rights etc (a) in article 11 of the Treaty, which sets out the objectives of the CFSP ; (b) in the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement which forms the legal basis for EU-Russia relations and (c) in its recently prolonged Common Strategy on Russia ;
- it would in the long run only harm EU-Russia relations.
2. A window of opportunity for moving towards a settlement of the conflict now exists.
President Putin and the federal authorities have recently changed their approach to the conflict. Instead of simply continuing to pursue a military solution, a package of measures has been prepared: the referendum on a new constitution for Chechnya on 23 March 2003, a recently adopted amnesty, promises of reconstruction aid and compensation for lost property, elaboration of an agreement regulating in greater detail the status of the Republic of Chechnya within the Russian Federation, presidential and parliamentary elections in the republic at the end of this year and the beginning of next, respectively.
The design of these measures is certainly open to criticism. A chance that they will lead to peace and normalisation exists probably only if very substantial modifications and additions are made. This will be difficult, but exploring and exploiting the possibilities opened by Moscow's new approach is nevertheless the best option available. Time is, however, limited. After the parliamentary and presidential elections at the level of the federation (which will be preceded by the presidential and parliamentary elections in Chechnya respectively), the window of opportunity which now exists may well be shut again.
3. The conflict has many dimensions and a genuine peace and reconciliation process must take account of all of them.
The 1994-96 war was never followed by any real reconciliation process, or by any significant reconstruction efforts. Whatever formal arrangements are made and endorsed through procedures which should be seen as valid or not, the massive damage done both to the physical and mental environment has clearly still not been repaired. It has rather been further aggravated by continuing violence and the addition of new dimensions to the conflict.
Suicide attacks have emerged as an important feature of the conflict, due either to the despair of mothers and widows of disappeared and executed men or to foreign influence - or possibly due to both. Only this year, indiscriminate terrorist attacks have killed and mutilated hundreds of ordinary people happening to be at the scene. At the same time, guerilla warfare continues and so do, according to reports of human rights NGOs, atrocities committed by frequently masked military personnel from all sides. Women told the Delegation about the fear they feel in particular for the safety of their older sons.
In order to end the cycle of violence, reported crimes must be investigated by military and civilian prosecutors and perpetrators brought to justice. This is a necessary, but not a sufficient precondition. Among many other things, it is also necessary to restore the education system, reconstruct the economy and see that job opportunities are created. Order must be brought to the exploitation of the republic's oil resources and the abuse of reconstruction funds and kidnappings must be halted. Criminal commercial activities can thrive under lawless conditions and those who make a profit from them may therefore obstruct attempts at ending the conflict and working towards the establishment of the rule of law. Also for this reason, a comprehensive approach to peace-building is necessary.
4. Living conditions in Grozny are no doubt difficult. Limited improvement may be occuring.
Major physical reconstruction works in Grozny concern little more than public administration buildings. Small-scale works on other buildings seem to have been carried out by their inhabitants. The Delegation is not able to tell to what extent water pipes, electricity lines and other infrastructure exist and function. It visited a renovated sewage pump station, which was, however, not in use. Limited bus services seemed to exist. Lots of vendors of vegetables, fruits and other items could be seen on the sidewalks in what appeared to have become a new, but primitive city centre. In some places, many people could be seen in the streets and they carried no visible signs of living under very difficult conditions.
As regards the security situation, persons who the Delegation talked with expressed different opinions.
5.Chechnyan Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Ingushetia are generally unwilling to return under the current conditions. No pressure should be exerted on them to do so.
Brief talks with IDPs in Ingushetia supported a report published by the Médecins Sans Frontières according to which there is little willingness to return to Chechnya. People fear for their security. While IDP return should indeed be an objective, this return must be voluntary and based on real improvements in the living conditions in Chechnya, in particular as regards the security.
6. Humanitarian aid organisations are being hindered in their work by lack of access to Chechnya and possibly also by unwarranted demands from the authorities.
Access to Chechnya is, in effect, being denied and reference is made to the precarious security situation there. This contradicts, however, what the authorities say when IDP return is the issue under discussion.
It cannot be excluded that one reason for denying access and not permitting the use of radio communication with local contact persons in Chechnya is that this makes it easier for other parties to gain influence over and possibly redirect aid flows. The fact that aid organisations express confidence in the control arrangements they have made is not sufficient to remove this suspicion, since these organisations are probably reluctant to criticise the authorities, due to their dependence on them. In North Caucasus as in other regions, it is necessary to guard against risks of losses due to various sorts of corruption.
As requested by ECHO and its NGO partners, they should be permitted to use radio communication, be relieved from paying Value Added Tax for humanitarian donations and get the right to purchase, transport and distribute so called class A drugs. Furthermore, it is strongly to be hoped that the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs will approve the opening of an ECHO field office in Ingushetia.
7. Genuine reconciliation and peace-building presupposes involvement of the acting political leadership, the former leadership whose authority the 1997 elections made legitimate and all other leaders willing to work for a peaceful solution to the conflict.
Negotiations should be opened as a matter of urgency. These could aim inter alia at:
- agreement on a general truce,
- securing the participation of the widest possible range of candidates in the coming presidential and parliamentary elections on equitable terms. The choice of dates of the elections could depend on the progress in the negotiations. A rushed decision should in any case be avoided.
8. International support is important for peace-building to succeed.
Humanitarian aid should continue and donors must insist on improvements in the relevant organisations working conditions (access for international staff to Chechnya, possibility to use VHF radio frequencies etc). Organisations such as ECHO, with partners, UNICEF and the World Food Programme must be given better possibilities to organise aid flows and ensure that the aid reaches those who are in the greatest need of it. Reconstruction and progressive improvement in the living conditions in Chechnya is crucial and will be greatly facilitated if international participation can be ensured also in this context. Finally, full cooperation with the Council of Europe and all of its competent bodies will be important for the establishment of the rule of law and respect for human rights and democratic standards. Russia should be urged not only to honour its obligations in relation to the Council of Europe, the OSCE and the UN, but also to fully exploit the support that these organisations, as well as the EU, can provide.
9. The potential 'peace dividend' is enormous and all efforts should be directed at harnessing it. Only 'chechenising' the conflict would not be a realistic project and it would in the long run not serve anyone's interests.
In humanitarian, economic and political terms, the benefits that could be reaped from a settlement of the Chechen conflict are enormous. The number of casualties continues to be important, including among Russian federal troops. The fear and suffering of the civilian population is inmeasurable. The economic cost of the massive presence of the army and other troops and huge amounts of military hardware, including tanks, helicopters and fighter jets, is surely very big. Also the political cost to Russia of this ongoing conflict is considerable. All these costs should be assessed and made clear to all relevant players, including to the Russian general public.
At the same time, it should be remembered that security is indivisible and that violence of the type seen in Chechnya cannot easily be contained. If it is true that the conflict in Chechnya has turned the republic into a fertile breeding ground for international terrorists, it is all the more urgent to seek a real solution to this conflict. The Russian Federation obviously has the responsiblity to ensure law and order in Chechnya, as in other parts of its territory.
10. Chechnya must be moved higher up on the EU-Russia agenda.
As regards the EU-Russia relationship, the 'double track idea', according to which Chechnya should neither be forgotten, nor block the development of cooperation in other areas has now for several years guided the EU. The conclusion that the EU could simply continue on that track is nevertheless flawed. It ignores not only the moral obligation to strive to make a difference, rather than only securing an alibi, implied in article 11 ot the Treaty. It also ignores the credibility problem which arises if this obligation is not taken seriously.
Moreover, it clearly matters if there is a crack in the foundation upon which the ever stronger partnership, which the EU and Russia strive for, is being built. Papering over that crack with summit declarations containing weak wordings will not make the crack go away.
Instead, a renewed EU attempt to contribute to a resolution of the Chechen conflict is necessary. The EU could encourage Russia to convene a conference on Chechnya, with the participation of all relevant players in the Republic of Chechnya, the Council of Europe, the OSCE and the EU. In this context, account should also be taken of the situation in the wider region. The EU could also hold out the prospect of enhanced humanitarian aid and reconstruction aid, if the conditions would make this appropriate.
AD HOC DELEGATION TO CHECHNYA DETAILED PROGRAMME
Chechnya - Ingushetia - North Ossetia
14 - 17 June 2003
Saturday, 14 June 2003
12.00 Meeting with delegation from "Medecins Sans Frontières"
Venue: Hotel National
Participants: Mr Stephen CORNISH, Acting Head of Mission, MSF
Mr Marc PONCIN, Ass. Head of Mission, MSF
Mr Jean-C. AZÈ, Dagestan Crisis Cell, MSF
13.30 Briefing meeting with EU Troika Ambassadors
Venue : Hotel National (arranged by the EC Delegation)
Participants: HE D. PARASKEVOPOULOS (Presidency)
HE G. BONNETTI, Italy, Mr Vincent PIKET, Acting Head of EC Delegation
15.30- Meeting with NGO's
18.00 Venue : Hotel National
Participants: Mr Oleg ORLOV, "MEMORIAL", Mrs A. NEISTAT, Human Rights
Watch, Mrs T. LOKSHINA and Mrs L. ALEKSEEVA, Int. Helsinki Foundation,
Mrs. M. USTINOVA, Fund for Humanitarian Assistance to the Chechen Republic
Mrs. S. GANNUSHKINA, Civic Assistance to the Chechen Republic,
Mr. John McNERN, MSF, Mr P. ROYAN, Echo
18.00- ad hoc delegation meeting
19.00 Venue: Hotel National
Present: MEPs: Reino PAASILINNA, Bart STAES, Arie OOSTLANDER,
European Commission: Vincent PIKET, Thomas FRELLESEN
19.30 Working Dinner with Chechen Politicians (Diaspora)
Venue : Library, Hotel Kempinsky, Moscow
Participants: Mr. Aslambek ASLAKHANOV, MP, State Duma,
Mr. Djabrail GAKAEV, Professor, Russian Academy of Sciences
Mr. Lema KASAEV, CEO of MIR, former Member of Chechen-Ingush Council Ministers
Sunday, 15 June 2003
a.m. Transfer to NAZRAN
14.30 Meeting with Mr Timur MOGUSHKOV, Prime Minister of Ingushetia, and
Mr Mogamet MARKHIEV, Dep. Chairman of Government
15.30 Visit of IDP Camp "BART" at Karabulag, Ingushetia
17.00 Visit of Camp "BERKAT" at Karabulag
18.00 Meeting at the Governmental Palace, Nazran
with the Government of the Republic of Ingushetia
Participants: Mr T. MOGUSHKOV, Prime Minister,
Mr M. MARKHIEV, Dep. Chairman of Government,
Mr. DUDAROV, Minister of the Interior
Mr. ZAIKIN, Head of Migration Service
Mr LATIEROV, Head of Environment Service
Mrs ERLISOVA, Dep. Prime Minister, Health Service
Mr L SLUTSKY, MP, Russian State Duma.
20.00 Meeting with Mr M. MARKHIEV, Dep. Chairman of Government,
Mr J. CAMPBELL, UN World Food Programme
Mrs OYUN, UNICEF Ingushetia and Chechnya
Venue : Hotel ASSA, Nazran, Ingushetia
Monday, 16 June 2003
08.00 Departure of convoy from ASSA Hotel, Ingushetia
08.30 Visit of unused barracks at Troickaja, Ingushetia
09.30 Farewell ceremony at Ingush-Chechen border with
Mr Timur MOGUSHKOV, Prime Minister
Transfer by Chechen security convoy to Grozny
10.30 Chechen Administration Headquarters
Meeting with Representatives of Chechen administration
and Federal administration and security forces
Participants: Mr A. POPOV, Prime Minister
Mr. V. DAKHMANOV, Dep. Prime Minister, Chechnya
Mr V. KRAVTCHENKO, Prosecutor General
General V. MAKRETSKY, Military Prosecutor
General Y. ABRASCHIN, Military Commander
Mr A. ARSANOV, Lord Mayor, Grozny
12.30 Press point with Prime Minister A. POPOV, L. SLUTSKY MP
13.00 Working Lunch with Mr KRAVTCHENKOV, Prosecutor General,
Mr A. ARSANOV, Lord Mayor, and Mr L. SLUTSKY, MP, State Duma
14.00 Departure with Mr Dimitri ROGOZIN, Chairman, Committee on International Affairs, State Duma
- Visit of Municipal Clinical Hospital No. 1
- Visit of Municipal Grammar School No. 7
- Visit of Children Day Care Institution
- Visit of New Housing project
- Visit of reconstruction of Future Town Hall, Grozny Main Square
- Meeting Grozny Lord Mayor and construction worker on the site
- Visit of newly refurbished Sewage Pump Station
- Visit of recently destroyed Administration Headquarters and of the
almost finished reconstruction
- Visit of military Headquarters near former Grozny Airport
(Troops of the Ministry of the Interior)
18.30 Transfer to airstrip and flight by Military Helicopter to MOZDOK, North Ossetia
20.00 Meeting with Chechen administration representatives and with North Ossetian
Government representatives in MOZDOK
21.30 Departure for Moscow by Military Aircraft
00.30 Arrival at Moscow Military Airport
Tuesday, 17 June 2003
09.00 Delegation meeting at Hotel Hyatt
Preparation of the following meetings and of press conference
10.00 Meeting at Hotel National with Dr. A. IVANOV, Fewer;
Mr MOKOLOV, Peace Forum; Mr. MAIGOV, Representative of Maskhdov
12.00 Debriefing Meeting with EU Ambassadors
Venue : Residence of Head of EC Delegation, Mr Richard WRIGHT
15.00 Meeting with Mr V. ILIASOV, Minster of the Russian Federation for Chechnya and
former Prime Minister of Chechnya
Venue : White House, Moscow
17.00 Press point with Minister ILIASOV
Venue : White House, Moscow
17.30 Meeting with Mr A. SULTIGOV, Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation to Chechnya
and Mr. A. VISAYEV, Head of the Foundation for Democratic Reconstruction
Participants: Mr G. GUDIEV, Mr M. AKHMELOV, MPs of '97 Chechen Duma
Mr AKHALOV, Chairman of '97 Chechen Duma
Mr DUDAEV, MP '94 Chechen Duma
Mrs S. LAKAIEVA and Mr ALIMKHALOV
20.00 Debriefing with Mr R. WRIGHT, Head of EC Delegation to the Russian Federation
1. LETTER TO MR REINO PASSILINNA
Letter from the people of the Prigorod region of the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania to the leaders of the OSCE
In 1944, Joseph Stalin, the cruellest butcher in human history, violated the constitutions of the Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic (RSFSR) and the USSR by deporting entire populations to Siberia and Central Asia and thereby emptying the territories where those nations had lived for thousands of years and giving them to his own countrymen i.e. the North Ossetians (Stalin was of Ossetian nationality and was born Joseph Dzhugaev, or Dzhugashvili). Stalin’s regime has now been condemned and the exiled nations repatriated. A statute on ‘The Rehabilitation of Repressed Peoples’ was adopted on 25 September 1991, but the politician and future president of North Ossetia, Akhsarbek Galazov, took great trouble to discredit the statute before the Russian people and their President Boris Yeltsin, in order to prevent Ingushetia regaining the Prigorod region and part of the Malgobeksi region, both of which are indisputably Ingush territory.
Those opposed to restoring all of Ingushetia’s former territories staged a campaign of ethnic cleansing of Ingush communities in October and November 1992. This particularly cruel genocide was actively supported by South Ossetian armed forces (Georgia) and the Russian army, who were deceived into thinking that the Ingush had been on the offensive and had attacked North Ossetia, whereas in fact the Ingush were leading a peaceful life back at home in the area from which they had been exiled by Stalin in 1944, and had no intention of attacking anyone. Following the deportation of the Ingush in 1992, the North Ossetian leader Akhsarbek Galazov (now a lecturer at Moscow State University – and one can only imagine what he must be teaching his students) declared that ‘Land belongs to those who currently live on it’, in other words where a people is deported and the area repopulated with a different people the latter automatically owns the annexed land. We are now in our eleventh year as exiles in our own country with no access to human rights or the rights due to citizens of the Russian Federation. We are living as exiles only a few kilometres from our native land, deprived of the right to work, to education or to travel freely in our native country. People who attack Russia are granted privileges, whereas we, exiles from the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania have received no assistance at all.
During these eleven long years we have been trying to survive without any financial means, living in caravans, barns or private flats. All our records, relics, prized possessions and property have been seized by our oppressors. We are only permitted to visit our family graves at gun point and under armed escort, even though Germans have free access to Nazi graves in Russia although their army was responsible for the death of millions of Russians. The North Ossetian authorities invent any number of pretexts to prevent us returning to our homes: they say, for example, that one area of Ingush land is a water zone, and that another is a gas zone, or perhaps an oxygen zone! Any Russian can obtain a new passport, but we are deprived of that right. We are not given registration papers, and it probably won’t take long before it is announced that the Ingush didn’t live here.
We ask you, in the name of our homeland and of a democratic Russia, to restore our constitutional rights, allow us to return home and give us back our rights as Russian citizens. Committees who come to discuss refugee-related issues meet with the authorities in Ingushetia or with Chechen refugees who receive all the attention and assistance. Whereas we, the exiles of the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania hardly seem to exist, even though we number several thousand Russian citizens. Every year we re-register with the immigration authorities, but nothing ever comes of it. We are not offered humanitarian nor any other kind of help, and neither are we allowed back home. Moreover hundreds of children – maybe the scholars, politicians or generals of the future – are barred from developing their skills. At least restore their rights! Russia is a democratic state, but now for the eleventh year we are still social outcasts in our own country!
1. M.M. Khamatkhanov, Kh.Kh. Matiev
2. M.I. Yevloev
3. M.Yu. Kushtov
4. G.I. Kotiev
5. A.S. Tsurov
6. M.S. Akhriev
7. B.S. Sampiev
8. M.Kh. Tsitskiev
9. M.M. Avarov
and hundreds of others on behalf of thousands of exiles from the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania
Our address: M.M. Khamatkhanov,
98 Dzhabagiev Street, Karabulak, Republic of Ingushetia, 386231
2. LETTER OF IDP AT 'BART' CAMP, INGUSHETIA
Letter of 15 June 2003 from the the Chechen citizens of ‘Bart’ Refugee Camp, Karabulak, Republic of Ingushetia to the representatives of international organisations
We would like to inform you that as refugees displaced from Chechnya we are afraid to return home for the following reasons:
1. Our safety is not guaranteed.
2. Chechen nationals have been systematically ‘disappeared’.
3. We face constant humiliation and extortion at the hands of the Russian federal army and Russian Federation military authorities in urban areas and on public highways.
4. Local officials find any excuse to procrastinate over any decision relating to citizens’ concerns, namely:
a) vehicle inspections
b) the issue of passports
c) the processing of documents relating to damaged homes and property.
Such issues are only ever resolved by bribing officials and middlemen. The bribes can cost up to 10 times the official fee, and therefore the majority of Chechen citizens are unable to obtain passports etc.
5. Representatives of Russian citizens’ rights organisations, including President Putin’s representative on human rights, provide the President with partial and unreliable information on the unlawful activities currently taking place in Chechnya.
6. Throughout the Russian Federation victims of natural disasters receive compensation for repairs to damaged homes and property, whereas, since 1995, we have not received any compensation for the damage to our homes and property caused by military conflict in Chechnya.
7. We have been living in tents since 1999 and our deteriorating health and material losses have caused us great distress.
8. Throughout Chechnya the concept of human rights is not observed and in every situation (armed) force is a decisive factor.
We call for:
1. A swift end to military conflict in Chechnya and our return home, through the use of any possible means that would promote a peaceful resolution to the situation in Chechnya.
2. Compensation paid directly to Chechen citizens (not via the Chechen authorities) for loss of homes and property, as well as for emotional distress resulting from the military conflict in Chechnya.
Given that an amnesty law has been passed, we call for the release and return of the Chechen citizens detained since 1994.