1 juli 2003
- Rebels kill four Chechen villagers: On Sunday evening, rebels opened fire on a crowd in the Chechen village of Novye Atagi as they were collecting unemployment benefit payments, killing four and wounding at least eight. No suspects have been detained so far (Izvestia, The Moscow Times).
- Hearing of Zakayev’s extradition continues: Yesterday a London court continued the hearing of Russia’s request for the extradition of Chechen separatist emissary Zakayev. He faces 13 charges, including kidnapping and murder, if extradited from Britain. According to Kommersant, Prosecutor Lewis, who represents the interests of the office of Russian Prosecutor General, questioned experts of the defence accusing them of incompetence and prejudice (Kommersant, The Moscow Times).
- Budanov found sane at the time of the murder: All media report about new developments in the highly publicised Budanov court case. Following the sixth psychiatric examination, two out of three groups of experts found Colonel Budanov sane at the time of the murder of Chechen girl Elza Kungayeva. The experts also noted, however, that he was in a “highly agitated state”. Kommersant comments that the victim’s family and the prosecution organized the two groups of experts, which found Budanov sane, while the experts invited by the defence found Budanov “partially sane” at the time of the murder (All media).
2 juli 2003
- Kozak: Chechnya may be granted broader autonomy: Deputy head of presidential administration Kozak said yesterday that Chechnya might be granted broader autonomy than other Russian regions. He also noted that the treaty on delimitation of powers between the federal centre and Chechnya may give the republic the right to deal with its natural resources at its own discretion. The Moscow Times notes that the comments came the day after Chechen Administration head Kadyrov met at the Kremlin with government officials. Media also report that yesterday the Interior Ministry began taking over control of Chechen operations from the Federal Security Service, under an order by President Putin (Interfax, Vremya novostei, Vremya MN, The Moscow Times, Rossiyskaya gazeta).
- Kidnappers of MSF aid worker convicted of other crimes: Yesterday a Rostov court acquitted two Chechen residents of kidnapping MSF aid worker Kenneth Gluck in January 2001, as they had voluntarily released him. However, they received long prison terms on other charges (All media).
3 juli 2003
- Chechen State Council to request compensation for Chechnya’s exclusion from 1992 privatisation: The Chechen State Council, according to its chairman Isayev, plans to request compensation from federal authorities for Chechnya’s exclusion from the 1992 privatisation in Russia. In 1992, Chechen residents failed to get privatisation vouchers due to a prohibition by Chechen President Dudayev. According analysts, the idea of the Chechen State Council will probably never be implemented (Kommersant).
- Over 2,200 servicemen killed in second Chechen campaign: Interfax quotes deputy commander-in-chief of Russian Interior Troops Tochilin as saying that over 2,240 servicemen were killed in the second Chechen campaign (1999-2003). Over 13,000 servicemen who took part in the campaign are now disabled, and one out of four servicemen who returned from Chechnya needs serious psychological counselling (Interfax).
7 juli 2003
- Suicide bombings in Moscow kill at least 13, wound over 50: (i) Two explosions staged by female suicide bombers ripped through the entrances to the Tushino Aerodrome in Moscow where about 30,000 fans gathered for the Krylya rock festival on Saturday, killing at least 13 and injuring more than 50. The two female suicide attackers also died. According to Interior officials, one of the women was identified as a Chechen. Deputy Interior Minister Nurgaliyev pointed out that the devices detonated at the rock concert were similar to those strapped to the waists of the suicide bombers during the hostage-taking crisis in Moscow last year. City authorities decided not to stop the concert fearing that spectators might panic. (ii) The bombings in Moscow made President Putin cancel planned visits to Uzbekistan and Malasia. (All media)
- Chechnya elections on 5 October; Kadyrov: all refugees to return to Chechnya: Meeting with Chechen leadership in the Kremlin last Friday, President Putin agreed that presidential elections in Chechnya would be held on 5 October at the request of Chechen State Council Chairman Isayev. Also on Friday, Putin signed a decree to that effect. At the same meeting, Head of Chechen Civilian Administration Kadyrov stressed that “there would be no tents in Ingushetia by September” and that Chechen refugees would move to newly built houses in Chechnya. (All media)
- Interior Minister to head antiterrorist operation in North Caucasus: In accordance with a decree signed by President Putin, the Interior Minister will head the operative headquarters for the antiterrorist operation in the Northern Caucasus as of 1 September 2003. The decree also orders the Chechen Interior Ministry to take additional measure to ensure law and safety in Chechnya. (Interfax, Rossiiskaya gazeta)
- More victims in Chechnya: (i) In a Mi-8 military helicopter crash yesterday in Chechnya, 4 servicemen were killed and 11 others injured. According to a Chechen Security Department official, the crash was caused by a technical failure. (ii) A bomb explosion yesterday in Grozny killed 1 and injured 4 more. (Interfax, Kommersant, Ivestia, MT)
8 juli 2003
- Putin urges to destroy Chechen terrorists following Saturday’s attack: Meeting with Cabinet members yesterday in the Kremlin, President Putin pointed out that Chechen terrorist groups “are an inalienable - maybe the most dangerous - part of international terrorism” and that “they must be plucked out of the basements and caves where they remain hiding and destroyed”. He also stressed that resolute actions of the authorities in Chechnya “must be precisely targeted and selective” and that Russia ”must not yield to provocation of the terrorists”. (All media)
- Cabinet approves compensation payments for lost property in Chechnya: In accordance with a Government resolution signed by PM Kasyanov yesetrday, compensations for Chechen families for lost housing will be paid in the amount of 300,000 roubles (about $10,000), and for lost property – 50,000 roubles. (Interfax, RIAN)
9 juli 2003
- Presidential aide claims EU-Russia problems pilling up: Participating in a conference “EU-Russia: Common European Policy and New World Challenges” yesterday in Rome, Presidential aide Yastrzhembsky pointed out that Russia and the EU have accumulated a number of unresolved problems which “are not decreasing in number, but are pilling up, starting with Kaliningrad, quotas for Russian goods, failure to understand Russia’s energy position before accession to WTO and ending with the freedom of movement”. He also noted that the EU was changing its stance on Chechnya in the wake of new evidence of financial and other links with the international terrorism. (RIAN, Rossiiskaya gazeta)
- UN: 84,000 Chechen refugees in Ingushetia: According to latest figures provided by UNHCR, over 84,000 Chechen IDPs are registered in Ingushetia. (Interfax)
10 juli 2003
- Cabinet to consider transition to contract army: The Government today is expected to approve a four-year, 80 bln roubles (around $2.6 bln) programme to staff Russia’s armed forces with contract servicemen. According to Deputy Minister for Economic Development and Trade Putilin, “the new Russian army will comprise 183,630 people”. According to Putilin, the monthly salary of a rank-and-file serviceman in Chechnya will be 16,844 roubles (about $550). He also said that the Defence Ministry intended to recruit CIS citizens for contract service in the Russian army. (Interfax, RIAN)
- Chechnya launches election campaign: Chechnya’s Central Elections Commission yesterday declared the launch of the presidential election campaign. Those wishing to register as a candidate must submit 10,000 signatures in his/her support. According to Deputy Head of Russia’s Central Elecations Commission Velyashev, foreign observers will be allowed to monitor the elections. (Interfax, Kommersant, Vremya novostei, MT)
11 juli 2003
- Another suicide bombing prevented in Moscow: All media report that early in the morning yesterday an FSB sapper was killed while defusing a bomb a female Chechen suicide bomber had tried to carry into a café in the centre of Moscow. The attempted bombing came five days after a double suicide attack at a Moscow rock festival. The Interior Ministry linked the attempted attack to those two bombings saying that were organized by a terrorist ring training female suicide bombers (All media).
- CoE Anti-Torture Committee issues tough statement on Chechnya: The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture issued a public statement yesterday accusing Russian forces of using beatings, electric shocks and other torture methods against prisoners in Chechnya. This was the second time the Committee made a public statement on Chechnya. The first one was issued in July 2001 (The Moscow Times).
- Chechen State Council appoints its representative in Federation Council: Yesterday the Chechen State Council appointed Adnan Muzykayev as its representative in the Federation Council. Kommersant comments that Muzykayev could be viewed as a competitor to head of Chechen Administration Kadyrov at the upcoming Chechen presidential elections, and he could get the post in the Federation Council in exchange for his refusal to contest the elections (Kommersant).
14 juli 2003
- 9 servicemen killed in truck explosion in Chechnya: All media report that on Saturday nine servicemen were killed in a truck explosion in Chechnya. On the same day, a mine killed three sappers. Nezavisimaya gazeta comments that such heavy casualties in one single day are comparable to those during the beginning of the second Chechen war. The daily quotes general Boldyrev as saying that there are over 75 rebel groups operating in Chechnya consisting of some 1200 people with some 300 of them being foreign mercenaries (All media).
15 juli 2003
- First presidential candidate registered in Chechnya; Maskhadov – a potential candidate?: (i) A little-known representative of the Chechen community in Astrakhan, Said Gairbekov, was the first to formally apply for registration as a presidential candidate in Chechnya (All media). (ii) Head of presidential human rights commission Pamfilova said yesterday that Chechen separatist leader Maskhadov could run for Chechen president if he is able to prove that he opposes terror and is therefore eligible for amnesty. This possibility was, however, rejected by presidential aide Yastrzhembsky. According to Nezavisimaya gazeta, Pamfilova’s statement could be interpreted as “an invitation to separatists who are also part of the electorate” (Nezavisimaya gazeta, Interfax, The Moscow Times).
16 juli 2003
- DM Ivanov visits Chechnya: RIAN reports that Defence Minister Ivanov arrived in Chechnya last night “to assess the implementation of anti-terrorist operation and to meet with Akhmat Kadyrov”, head of Chechen Administration. Vremya MN informs that Kadyrov is expected to come to Moscow today to hold meetings with former leaders of the Chechen-Ingush Republic with a view to create a consultative council, which is to assist in the restoration of the republic (RIAN, Vremya MN).
- Five soldiers killed in Chechnya: The Moscow Times reports that in the last 24 hours rebels attacked federal positions and blew up a military vehicle killing five soldiers and wounding 11. In scattered rebel attacks, federal positions came under fire 15 times since Monday (The Moscow Times).
17 juli 2003
- Kadyrov says talks with warlord Gelayev in progress: Yesterday head of Chechen Administration Kadyrov said that his representatives are holding talks with rebel leader Gelayev on the possible surrender of his group. He noted that Gelayev is not involved in abductions and has no links with Yandarbiyev or Udugov. Kommersant informs, however, that Maskhadov’s representative Ferzauli described Kadyrov’s statement as wishful thinking. Gazeta carries a front-page article entitled “Kadyrov found an ally at elections. It is Gelayev” (All media).
- Human Rights Watch accuses Russian security services of human rights violations in Ingushetia: Interfax reports that Human Rights Watch accused Russian security services of violating human rights while conducting sweep operations in Ingushetia. According to the head of Human Rights Watch office in Moscow, these operations target ethnic Chechen settlements in Ingushetia and may be aimed at forcing Chechen refugees to return home (Interfax, The Moscow Times).
18 juli 2003
- Terrorist act in Dagestan claims 5 lives: Yesterday a car parked near the police department of the Dagestani city of Khasavyurt (situated near the Chechen border) blew up killing five and injuring about 30 people. Among the victims was a pregnant woman and a five-year-old girl (All media).
- Low rating of Kadyrov in Chechnya makes his prospects of election as Chechen President uncertain: Nezavisimaya gazeta reports in an article entitled “Chechens do not like Kadyrov” that according to a recent opinion poll held in Chechnya, head of Chechen Administration Kadyrov is only the fourth (with 11.4%) in the list of Chechen politicians with the highest credit ratings. Duma deputy from Chechnya Aslakhanov heads the list. According to the daily, such a low rating makes Kadyrov’s prospects for election as a Chechen President uncertain (Nezavisimaya gazeta, Lenta.ru).
- 4,300 refugees return from Chechnya to Ingushetia: Interfax reports that about 4300 Chechen refugees have returned to Chechnya from Ingushetia since the beginning of 2003. Over 62,000 Chechen refugees still live in Ingushetia, including about 18,000 in tent camps (Interfax, Vedomosti).
- Prosecutors demand 12-year term for Budanov: Yesterday prosecutors urged the North Caucasus district court to sentence colonel Budanov to 12 years in prison. Budanov is accused of killing a Chechen girl. In December, Budanov was found insane at the time of the murder, but the Supreme Court overturned that decision and ordered a new trial (All media)
22 juli 2003
- Rebels step up activities in Chechnya: (i) All media report that yesterday FSB experts discovered a car wired with explosives near the government headquarters in the Chechen capital which was reopened less than two weeks ago after a truck bombing. (ii) Six federal servicemen and seven rebels were killed near a village in Chechnya’s Vedensky district in a shootout which began when rebels attacked a military patrol (All media). (iii) Nezavisimaya gazeta comments that rebels have recently stepped up their activities aiming at disrupting the trust in the Chechen authorities on the eve of elections in the republic. Kommersant reports about wide-scale sweep operations in Grozny and in the Vedensky district, which followed the rebels’ attacks. According to Interfax, “individuals on the federal wanted list for grave crimes and terrorist acts have been detained, arms caches have been found and terrorist acts planned by rebels prevented”.
23 juli 2003
- Chechen ombudsman calls for checking sources of HR NGOs’ financing: President’s Commissioner for human rights in Chechnya Sultygov proposed checking the sources of human rights NGOs’ financing to investigate their possible involvement with the international terrorist work. He noted that “Chechnya clearly demonstrated that terrorist activities go hand in hand with psychological war, propaganda and moral terror conducted by human rights NGOs” (Interfax, Vremya novostei).
- Amnesty for 82 rebels: Interfax reports that since the declaration of amnesty in Chechnya, more than 100 Chechen rebels have surrendered and 82 of them have been amnestied. According to Chechen Prosecutor Kravchenko, the problem of employment is still acute for these people, and they must be offered social rehabilitation programmes and assistance in getting adjusted to peaceful life (Interfax).
- Putin, Culture Minister discuss development of cultural institutions in Chechnya: Yesterday President Putin met with Culture Minister Shvydkoi to discuss the development of cultural institutions in Chechnya. According to Shvydkoi, “Grozny is experiencing problems with libraries and museums but they are being resolved”. “If we are talking about building theatres and libraries, this means life is returning to normal”, he said (Interfax).
24 juli 2003
- Kadyrov to be a candidate of United Russia party at Chechen presidential elections?: Gazeta reports that yesterday the head of the Chechen Administration Kadyrov sent a letter to the United Russia party saying that he wants to be the candidate of the party at the upcoming Chechen presidential elections. Gazeta points to the low rating of Kadyrov in Chechnya (lower than that of Duma deputy Aslakhanov), stressing that he will have a chance to be elected, only if he is supported by the ‘party of power’ (Gazeta, Vremya novostei).
- Chechen refugees to return from Ingushetia before the winter?: Vremya MN carries a front-page article reporting about the prospects of the return of Chechen refugees from Ingushetia. The daily quotes Federal Minister for Chechnya Ilyasov and Chechen Prime Minister Popov as saying that the return will be over before the winter. However, the daily doubts that these plans can be implemented. Interfax quotes presidential representative for human rights in Chechnya Sultygov as saying that no deadlines will be set for the return of Chechen refugees. He said that the rate of the refugees’ voluntary return depends on the pace of housing construction and the beginning of compensation payments for damaged housing (Interfax, Vremya MN).
- Verdict for colonel Budanov to be announced tomorrow: All media report that a verdict on colonel Budanov, charged with the murder of Chechen girl Elza Kungayeva, will be announced tomorrow. The prosecution has demanded a 12-year prison term for Budanov (All media).
25 juli 2003
- Putin meets with Chechen officials; Kadyrov member of Russian delegation to UN: (i) Yesterday President Putin held a meeting with Chechen Administration head Kadyrov, Federal Minister for Chechnya Ilyasov, Chechen Prime Minister Popov and CEO of Rosneft oil company Bogdanchikov. According to Kommersant, the meeting focused on the restoration of the oil and gas sector of the republic, the general economic situation and preparations for lost housing compensation payments. Interfax quotes Bogdanchikov as saying that oil production in Chechnya increased 27% in the first half of this year. (ii) According to The Moscow Times, Putin said yesterday that free will should be the “guiding principle” in returning refugees to Chechnya. (iii) Vremya novostei reports that at yesterday’s meeting, Putin informed Kadyrov about his appointment as a member of the delegation representing Russia in the UN. According to the daily, it could be interpreted as a sign of high trust by the Kremlin or as an indication that Moscow has found a new job for Kadyrov (Kommersant, Gazeta).
- Gryzlov: United Russia party will support Kadyrov in Chechen elections: Interfax quotes Boris Gryzlov, Interior Minister and Chairman of United Russia’s Supreme Council, as saying that his party will support Kadyrov at the Chechen presidential elections. However, another top official of the party, Leonid Ivlev, is quoted by Kommersant as saying that a decision on the issue is to be taken only in mid-August (Interfax, Kommersant).
- Moscow-based Chechen businessman to run for Chechen President: All media report that prominent Chechen businessman and politician Saidullayev announced yesterday that he will take part in the Chechen presidential elections. Kommersant comments that Saidullayev became the first well-known Chechen politician to announce formally his intention to contest the elections (All media).
- Witness in Zakayev case withdraws his testimony: During yesterday’s hearing of the Zakayev extradition case in London, one of the witnesses, Vakha Dashuyev, retracted his earlier testimony saying that he had made it under FSB pressure. The testimony referred to the involvement of Chechen emissary Zakayev in the abduction of two Orthodox priests in 1996. The judge postponed the next hearing of the case till 8 September. An article in Nezavisimaya gazeta is entitled “Zakayev case falls into pieces”. Official daily Rossiyskaya gazeta comments that the videotaped testimony of Dashuyev does not show any signs of alleged pressure (Nezavisimaya gazeta, Kommersant, RIAN, Rossiyskaya gazeta).
- Four federal servicemen killed in Chechnya: The Moscow Times reports that over the past 24 hours, clashes with rebels and land mine explosions in Chechnya killed four soldiers and wounded 13. Rebels also clashed with a group of Chechen police officers killing two and wounding three officers (The Moscow Times).
28 juli 2003
- Colonel Budanov sentenced to 10 years in prison: All media report that on Friday, the Rostov-on-Don military court sentenced colonel Budanov to ten years in prison for murdering Chechen girl Elza Kungayeva in 2000. The trial was considered as an indication of Moscow’s willingness to crack down on human rights abuses in the Chechen conflict. Many dailies believe that the court took a political decision, which, according to Vremya MN, was quite predictable given the active efforts of the federal centre to promote peaceful settlement in Chechnya. However, opinions over the verdict are different. The article in government daily Rossiyskaya gazeta is entitled “The war is to blame. Yet Budanov is sentenced” (All media).
- Chechnya not to be granted broad economic autonomy?: Vedomosti reports that Kadyrov-drafted agreement on delimitation of powers between the federal centre and Chechnya, which envisages a broad economic autonomy for Chechnya, will most likely not be approved by the working group headed by presidential administration chief Voloshin (Vedomosti).
- Female suicide bomber attempts to kill Kadyrov’s son: Yesterday a female suicide bomber attempted to kill Ramazan Kadyrov, the son of the Chechen Administration head, in the Chechen village of Tsatsan-Yurt. Ramazan Kadyrov remained unhurt. One woman was slightly injured in the attack (All media).
30 juli 2003
- Russia to cooperate with OSCE on Chechnya?: At consultations held yesterday at the Russian MFA with a delegation of OSCE experts on the cooperation in Chechnya, cooperation projects for the reconstruction of Chechnya and coordination of OSCE projects with programmes of other international organisations were considered.
31 juli 2003
- Kadyrov to run as an independent candidate in Chechen elections: Yesterday Chechen Administration head Kadyrov thanked the United Russia and People’s party for their readiness to support him but said that he intends to run as an independent candidate in the Chechen presidential elections. He noted that “the future Chechen President should not be tied to a particular political organization” as “the President will have to resolve the very difficult task of uniting the Chechen people, who are split by conflict”. Vremya novostei comments that it will be more difficult for Kadyrov to win the elections as an independent candidate. On the other hand, in the paper’s view, Chechens usually elect a candidate and not a political party (Vremya novostei, Interfax, Izvestia, Gazeta).
- Five soldiers killed in truck explosion in Ingushetia: Five contract soldiers were killed when a land mine explosion hit two Kamaz trucks near the village of Galashki situated not far from the Ingush border with Chechnya (All media).