Russia

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

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

Monday, March 10

The Bureau of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) confirmed its earlier decision that PACE should not send monitors to the March 23 constitutional referendum, citing insufficient security as the reason for the decision.

Tuesday, March 11

No major events.

Wednesday, March 12

Dutch aid worker with Medecins sans Frontieres Arjan Erkel, who was kidnapped in Dagestan on August 12, 2002, is alive, Dagestani Interior Minister Adilgerei Magomedtagirov said.

Thursday, March 13

Czech humanitarian agency "People in Need Foundation" (PINF) announced that its local coordinator Ibragim Zyazikov, who was overseeing security and acting as an escort and guard for PINF's humanitarian convoys, disappeared on February 26 or 27 in Grozny, and it is suspected he was kidnapped. Ibragim Zyazikov is married to Petra Prochazkova, a Czech journalist covering both wars in Chechnya, and is related to Murat Zyazikov, President of Ingushetia.

The Ingush police detained Chechen anti-war activist Sulumbek Tashtamirov in the Ordzhonikidzevskaya village. On the next day the police said that Tashtamirov, who went on hunger strike two weeks ago, managed to escape. Tashamirov's current whereabouts are unknown, the Chechen National Salvation Committee reported.

Friday, March 14

Chechen refugees staying in Ingushetia will be allowed to take part in the Chechen constitutional referendum without entering the territory of Chechnya, Russian presidential envoy for human rights in Chechnya Abdul-Khakim Sultygov said, referring to a March 13 agreement between chairman of the Russian Central Election Committee Aleksander Veshnyakov and Ingush President Murat Zyazikov on the establishment of polling stations in Chechen refugee camps in Ingushetia.

The Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, and the Minister of Education of the Russian Federation, Mr Vladimir Filipov, signed an Aide-Memoire aimed at strengthening cooperation in the restoration of the education system in Chechnya, focused on nutritional and health education of children, psychological and social rehabilitation of children, and training of Chechen teachers.

Saturday, March 15

Chechen human rights defender Imran Ezhiyev, head of the North Caucasus section of the Society of Russian-Chechen Friendship and regional coordinator of the Moscow Helsinki Group, was kidnapped by unknown persons on the road between Shali and Serzhen-Yurt.

Sunday, March 16

In an address broadcast by Chechen television, Russian President Vladimir Putin appealed to Chechens to take part in the March 23 Chechen constitutional referendum, promising their republic broad autonomy within Russia if they approve the new constitution and the draft acts on presidential and parliamentary elections.

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