(Moscow, February 23, 2000) -- Russian soldiers went on a killing spree on February 5 in Aldi district in southern Grozny, murdering at least sixty-two civilians, Human Rights Watch charged today.
The organization also said that refugees returning to the Chechen capital continue to find the dead bodies of relatives killed by Russian troops in several districts of the devastated city. Human Rights Watch has confirmed another nine summary executions in the Staropromyslovski district of Grozny, bringing the total number of confirmed executions in that district to fifty, and also has evidence of at least five summary executions in the Oktyabrski district of Grozny.
"It is becoming increasingly clear that these are not isolated incidents," said Holly Cartner, Executive Director of the Europe and Central Asia Division of Human Rights Watch. "We are uncovering a pattern of summary executions throughout Grozny."
In the last few days, Human Rights Watch interviewed six witnesses who were in the Aldi district of Grozny at the time of the killings, or who traveled there to find out about the fate of their relatives. These witnesses described a consistent picture of the brutal events that took place on the morning of February 5.
A large group of Russian soldiers, possibly more than one hundred, went to the Aldi district and systematically murdered civilians in their homes and on the streets. Soldiers looted and burned numerous houses and demanded money from civilians, sometimes promising to spare their lives if they agreed to pay. Several witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch also alleged that Russian soldiers had raped at least two women.
Forty-one-year-old Sapiyat was in the Aldi district when the Russians soldiers entered it on February 5. She told Human Rights Watch: "We heard that everyone should be out in the yards or the streets with their passports, that is why we all went out and were expecting [the soldiers] to come any minute. Then... we started hearing gunshots from the other side of town.... When the soldiers were passing through Voronezhskaia Street, they killed everyone in their path, the same with Mazayev, Zemlyanskaia, and Bryanskaia street.... "
By the time the soldiers reached Sapiyat's street, the worst was apparently over. She said that soldiers fired into her street as they appeared from the corner but then told everybody to "go home." She said that soldiers looked into some yards and houses but left when they realized that the houses had already been destroyed and that there was little left to loot.
She told Human Rights Watch about the killing of Alvi Ganayev, aged sixty-one, and his two sons Aslambek, aged thirty-four, and Salambek, aged thirty-one. They were apparently killed in Voronezhskaia street as they returned from repairing a roof that had been damaged by shelling. Alvi's wife found their bodies underneath a pile of corpses in the street: "She recognized the clothes of her younger son and tried to pull him out of the pile," said Sapiyat. "Then the soldiers saw her and started firing in her direction." A young man who ran over to help the woman was hit and died three days later from his wounds. Sapiyat saw the bodies of the members of the Ganayev family when she went to pay her condolences to the mother.
Thirty-six-year-old Larisa (not her real name) told Human Rights Watch that she went to the Aldi district on February 10 to look into the fate of her relatives. Local families told her that on February 5 Russian soldiers had asked Akhmed Abalkhanov, a seventy-four-year-old relative of Larisa's, for money. When he gave them 300 rubles, the soldiers threw it back in his face, saying "You have dollars and only want to give us rubles." Akhmed went back into the house and came out with U.S.$100, but then was shot by the soldiers who were evidently upset that he had tried to hide the dollars. When his daughter-in-law Louisa attempted to intervene, she was brutally beaten. Soldiers then set the house and stable on fire, killing six cattle inside. Local families also told Larisa that soldiers had taken away thirty-two-year-old Shamkhan Baigiriyev, who had been wounded in shelling, and that his burned body was found six days later in a cellar.
After the soldiers left, surviving inhabitants from the district apparently counted a total of eighty-two dead bodies, some of which could not be identified because Russian soldiers had set them on fire. Human Rights Watch has so far obtained the names of sixty-two victims of the Aldi killings. Attached below is a list of thirty-four names, each of which was reported by at least two sources who were interviewed separately.
Human Rights Watch continues to investigate the executions in the Aldi district, but its investigation has been severely hampered by the Russian army's apparent attempts to conceal these crimes. Several witnesses told Human Rights Watch that Russian soldiers had returned to the district on February 9 to warn civilians not to bring the abuses to the attention of the international community. They apparently told several men, "We have not seen you, you have not seen us. It will be better this way for you and for us. Otherwise, you know what will happen." Several witnesses of the events of February 5 in the district refused to talk to Human Rights Watch out of fear of retaliation.
Russian troops have effectively sealed off Grozny from the outside world. As a result, very few civilians are able to leave the city to tell about the abuses that have taken place.
On February 10, Human Rights Watch issued a report detailing the summary executions of thirty-eight people by Russian soldiers in the Staropromyslovski district of Grozny (http://www.hrw.org/reports/2000/russia_chechnya/). Since then, the organization has confirmed the summary executions of another twelve civilians from that district. Their names are also listed below.
Human Rights Watch has also received information on the execution of a family of five, including a pregnant woman and a one-year-old child. Russian soldiers apparently killed them in Oktyabrski district of Grozny on February 5, and tried to burn their bodies. Their names are also listed below.
The Aldi District Executions:
Akhmed Abalkhanov (75)
Rakhaash Akhmadova (71)
Musa Akhmadov (age unknown)
Ziyardi Akhmerzoyev (44)
Aindi Azuyev (80)
Shamkhan Baigiriyev (32)
Sultan Dzabrailov (50+)
Vakha Dzhambekov Betersultanovich (52)
Akhmed Eldarbiev (75)
Ramzan Ekmurzayev (35)
Alvi Ganayev (61)
Aslambek Ganayev (32)
Salambek Ganayev (39)
Magomet Gaitayev (76)
Koka Gerikhanova (45)
Ali Hadjimuradov Germanovich (58)
Sultan Idigov (52)
Vakha Khakimov (50)
Umar Kudozov (47)
Musa Kudozov (42)
Zina Labazaneva (50+)
Saalam Makhamadov (59)
Abdul Makhamadov (55)
Umar Musayev (77)
Yakub Musayev (51)
Suleiman Musayev (27)
Abdurakhman Musayev (49)
Yusup Musayev (49)
Avalu Sugaipov Saudiyevich (49)
Abdurakhman Tasuyev (20)
Sultan Temirov Said-Achmedovich (48)
Hanpasha Yakhyayev Sultanovich (45)
Mussa Yakhyayev (43)
Aimani (family name and age unknown)
The Staropromyslovski District Executions:
Magomet Goigov (31)
Risvan Taimaskhanov (22)
Khamid Khashiev (45)
Shema Inderbiyeva (32)
Sheiman Inderbiyeva (33)
Aslan Tungoyev (appr. 60)
Zina Tungoyeva (appr. 60)
Mussa Gutsigov (45)
Ali Yansurkayev (70)
Rumisa Yansurkayeva (appr. 30)
Adem Shamilov (over 60)
Lioma Shamilov (appr. 30)
An unidentified body
The Oktyabrski District Executions:
Hass-Magomet Estimirov (67)
Hozh-Akhmed Estimirov (33)
Toita Estimirova (28)
Hassan Estimirov (1)
An unidentified uncle of the Estimirov family (appr. 65)
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