Russia

Chechnya: The week in brief: 10 - 16 Feb 2003

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Summary of the main news related to the conflict in Chechnya. Compiled by Prague Watchdog.

Monday, February 10

Anatoly Popov was appointed to the post of Premier of the Moscow-backed Chechen government, replacing Mikhail Babich, who resigned after a dispute with the head of the Moscow-backed Chechen administration Akhmad Kadyrov. Popov, 42, worked as the director of a state-run authority for the reconstruction of Chechnya before his appointment.

AFP reported that Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov appointed chairman of the Anti-War Congress Salambek Maigov the new envoy of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria to the Russian Federation, according to a decree of February 3.

Tuesday, February 11

The Commissioner of the Council of Europe for Human Rights Alvaro Gil Robles arrived in the Northern Caucasus to visit Chechnya and Ingushetia.

Wednesday, February 12

Chechen refugees in Ingushetia will be eligible to vote in the Chechen constitutional referendum on March 23, said chairman of Russia's Central Election Committee Alexandr Veshnyakov. People wishing to vote will have to ask local election committees in Chechnya to add them on the lists of voters and then will vote in the territory of Chechnya, Veshnyakov added.

Russia will not get start negotiating with Aslan Maskhadov's newly-appointed envoy to Russia Salambek Maigov, said Russian President's aide on Chechnya Sergei Yastrzhembski.

The Russian Foreign Ministry complained to the Lithuanian Embassy in Moscow about the hosting by a Lithuanian company of news server Kavkaz-centre, the information centre of the Chechen Republic of Ickheria in Lithuania and the Vilnius Committee for Support to Chechnya's Independence, which - according to the ministry - are involved in anti-Russian activities.

Russian authorities determined the identities of those officials who illegally issued Russian passports to the members of the Chechen commando which in October 2002 seized a Moscow theatre, taking nearly 1,000 people hostage, Russia newspaper Vremya-MN quoted Yuri Ivashkin of the Russian Interior Ministry as saying. In contrast to earlier media reports, the officials are not from the Russian town of Samara, Ivashkin noted.

Thursday, February 13

The United Nations agencies in the Russian Federation suspended for one day their humanitarian programmes in the North Caucasus in solidarity with the head of the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) mission in Dagestan, Arjan Erkel, abducted in Dagestan on August 12, 2002.

The number of cases of forced repatriation of Chechen refugees to Grozny steeply decreased and at the moment there are none, Ella Pamfilova, chairwoman of the Russian presidential human rights committee, told a news conference. Although the standard of living at temporary accommodation centres in Grozny is sufficient, the number of such centres is insuficient, therefore no one makes people return to Grozny, Pamfilova explained.

Friday, February 14

A judge of the Bow Street Magistrates Court in London decided that the hearings on the extradition of Chechen politician Akhmad Zakayev to Russia will take place on June 9.

Russia's Supreme Court declared 15 organizations terrorist, thus satisfying a request by Russia's Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov. The terrorist organizations include several organizations linked to the Chechen resistance's wing represented by field commander Shamil Basayev.

Saturday, February 15

A cellular network was put in operation in Chechnya after four years, thanks to the launch of the Megafon mobile network. The first mobiles will be handed over to top officials of the republic's administration and government, Chechen official Alu Machuyev said.

Sunday, February 16

No major events.

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