Russia

Experience of mopping-up operations in Chechnya

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Ruslan Isayev, North Caucasus -- Since spring 2000 thousands of Chechens have disappeared without trace during "mopping-up" operations. Their precise number is unknown. In addition, many of the arrested persons are later found dead with signs of torture on their bodies.
An inhabitant of the town of Argun named Alikhan recounts what he went through when captured by the Russian forces on December 17, 2002: "They brought me and the other detainees to the outskirts of Argun, where they beat us for several days in a row. The third day after the arrest, they tied two of the arrested - 18-year-old Isa and 24-old Saydmagomed - together and blew them up. Then we were told that this was our fate unless money was paid for us. When they let me free, I found out that my father delivered a ransom of 500 dollars for me."

Each such "mop-up" leads tens to hundreds of young people, unable to bear the assaults and violence caused by federal servicemen, join the resistance, which increases the power of the troops under the control of Aslan Maskhadov.

Russian media repeatedly reported about mass surrenders of Chechen fighters in exchange for a safety guarantee given by Akhmad Kadyrov, the head of the Moscow-backed Chechen administration. The truth is that such cases occurred in the past and were rather isolated - but nobody gives up today.

Ayub, a 28-year-old inhabitant of Urus-Martan, says: "In April 2001, my friend Isa was wounded in the mountains in the Vedeno district. He had surgery under field conditions, but gangrene set in. In order to save his life, we suggested he surrender in return for a safety guarantee. He had his right leg amputated in Grozny's hospital and afterwards he convalesced at home in Urus-Martan.

At the end of November 2002, he was arrested during a "mop-up" at his home although he had a confirmation about mercy signed by the commander of the Joint Troops Group (OGV) in Chechnya and Kadyrov. His body was found the following day, with arms cut off, outside Urus-Martan. Just another demonstration of what awaits those who surrender."

Neither Russian amnesty, nor cooperation with the pro-Moscow government can guarantee safety to the participants of the conflict at the moment. There are many examples of executions without a trial, and torture not only in relation to the members of the armed resistance, but also people who are not connected to it in any way.

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