Chechnya, an officially autonomous republic in Southwest Russia,
lies on the northern slopes of the Caucasus Mountains, bordering
Georgia to the south, Stavropol to the northwest, the Russian
Federation Republics of Dagestan to the northeast, and Ingushetia
to the west.
The Russian-Chechen conflict has roots that can be traced to
the 18th century. As part of their expansion into the Caucasus
at that time, Russian forces attempted to forcibly annex the
region. However, they met fierce, unexpected resistance from
a broad ethnic coalition of Caucasian Muslims. Resistance continued,
and a full-scale armed revolt against Russian occupation resumed
in 1824, beginning a bitter guerilla war that lasted more than
30 years (Religious Studies News: Damrel Sept 1995).
In 1944, Stalin forcibly relocated the entire Chechen population
to special camps in Central Asia. Some estimates indicate that
between one-third to one-half of the Chechen population, over
250,000 people, disappeared after February 1944 (Damrel Sept
1995). Chechens returned to a "Russified" version
of their Republic in 1957.
There was a relative peace between the Russians and the Chechens
until the early 1990s. In November 1991, Chechen general Dzhokhar
Dudayev expelled the Communist government in Grozny, and the
Republic of Chechnya declared its independence from the Soviet
Union. Dudayev won an overwhelming victory in the presidential
elections and set up a government. He was unable, however, to
persuade any foreign government to recognize Chechnya’s independence.
Since then, Russia has fought to preserve its control over
Chechnya. To prevent secession, over 40,000 Russian troops converged
on the capital city of Grozny in 1994, and a 20-month guerilla
war ensued. According to Human Rights Watch, between 1994 and
1996, nearly 100,000 people, many of whom were civilians, were
killed in the war (HRW: "Don’t Reward" 1 Oct 1999).
Intensive bombing campaigns against Grozny ensued, and the Chechen
capitol was nearly leveled.
This conflict officially ceased on August 31, 1996 with the
signing of the Khasavyurt Agreement. However, the terms of the
agreement were indefinite and, although Chechnya had a de facto
independence, the parties chose to postpone the official status
of Chechnya’s independence until 2001. In May 1997, Chechen
President Aslant Maskhadov and Russian President Yeltsin formalized
the terms of their truce, pledging to reject both the use and
threat of force in the future.
Peace was short-lived, however. Tensions rose again in August
1999 when over 1,000 Chechen guerilla troops, reportedly led
by Shamil Basayev, an Islamic fundamentalist, launched an armed
invasion into neighboring Dagaestan. Some observers believe
that this conflict differed from past wars because the stated
goal of Chechen rebel forces was to usurp Russian power and
to facilitate the building of an Islamic State (Congressional
Research Service Issue Brief: Goldman 23 Aug 2001). Moscow blamed
Chechen rebel forces for a series of terrorist bombings, including
an attack against a Moscow apartment building, in August and
September 1999 that killed approximately 300 (CRS Issue Brief:
23 Aug 2001). Russian forces responded with a severe military
campaign. Russian Federal Forces launched a massive air attack
against Grozny in September 1999 and, in October 1999, then-Russian
Premier Vladimir Putin deployed 100,000 troops into the region
(CRS Issue Brief: 23 Aug 2001). In its 2001 World Report, Human
Rights Watch wrote,
the city of Grozny was essentially treated as one enormous
military target. Though the
vast majority of civilians had left the city before the assault
started, an estimated twenty
to forty thousand civilians, many too poor, sick, or infirm
to leave, remained. These
people were given little thought as the Russian military machine
obliterated the city
(HRW: World Report 2001).
After a crushing attack, Russian forces took Grozny in February
2000. In the following months, they took additional rebel strongholds
in the mountains to the south. Russian forces are believed to
have killed thousands of civilians and driven thousands more
from their homes during the offensive. In response, the international
community has criticized Russia’s use of "disproportionate"
and "indiscriminate" force against innocent civilian
lives, while recognizing Moscow’s right to combat separatist
threats within in borders.
Since 2000, Russia has suppressed large-scale Chechen resistance
(CRS Issue Brief: 23 Aug 2001). Nevertheless, it continues to
face prolonged guerilla warfare, although Moscow remains interested
in ending the war in the Caucasus as soon as possible.
Today, the most serious threat to human rights in the region
concerns the Chechen refugees. As a result of the violence in
the region, many Chechens have fled to neighboring areas, including
Ingushetia, where as many as 200,000 Chechen refugees still
live. Moscow has announced that all displaced Chechens in Ingushetia
are to be returned to Chechnya before winter and that all tent
camps are to be dismantled (MSF: Van’t Land 26 July 2002). The
head of the pro-Russian government in Chechnya claimed that
Russia intends to return some 300 families per week to Chechnya
from refugee camps, although all refugees are to go back "voluntarily"
(MSF: Van’t Land 26 July 2002). Nevertheless, the Washington
Post maintains that Russian President Vladimir Putin is ready
to remove Chechen refugees from camps in Ingushetia, by force
if necessary (Washington Post: 10 June 2002).
Moscow has made similar ultimatums in the past. However, the
difference now is the Pro-Moscow President of Ingushetia appears
eager to comply with President Putin’s wishes to convince the
international community that the war in Chechnya is over. Nevertheless,
the Russian Human Rights Ombudsman, Oleg Mironov, if Chechens
are forcibly removed, the result could be one of the worst human
rights crises in recent Russian history (Washington Post: 10
Reports have already surfaced that electricity, gas, and water
supplies have allegedly been shut down in refugee camps (MSF:
"Moscow Wants" 24 July 2002). Additional reports claim
that the Russian government has cut off bread distribution to
some 50,000 Chechen refugees living in tent camps in Ingushetia
(Baltimore Sun: Birch 28 July 2002). Russian authorities have
set up temporary accommodation shelters outside of Grozny. Though
these shelters have no water or sewage and are already overcrowded
(MSF: Van’t Land 26 July 2002). Many refugees remain unregistered
with the government and have no income or possessions left to
sell to raise the money necessary to register. As such, they
are not eligible to receive government assistance. This situation
is complicated by the fact that the United Nations has announced
that it will suspend all food aid within Chechnya, following
the abduction of an aid worker (Agence France-Presse: "UN
Suspends" 29 July 2002). Furthermore, the continued violence
in Chechnya makes Grozny, and much of Chechnya, a dangerous
place for refugees to re-settle.
Government of the Russian Federation:
The Russian government has sought to eradicate rebel activity
in Chechnya. President Vladimir Putin has justified Russian
"cleansing" operations as an essential tool to capture
militants (Washington Post: LaFraniere 24 June 2002), though
his tone has softened within the last year, stating in a June
2002 interview that the Russian government is partly to blame
for the violence against civilians in Chechnya (Washington Post:
La Franiere 24 June 2002). Nevertheless, the violence against
Chechen civilians continues.
Chechen Civilian Population:
Chechen civilians continue to be arbitrarily detained to verify
their identity. Many are released within days. For others, their
bodies are later discovered in unmarked graves, while still
others are never heard from again (HRW: "Russia: Last Seen"
Chechen civilians are also targets for "cleansing"
operations, called zachistki. During these village operations,
many Chechens, particularly men ages 10 to 60, are carried from
their homes, and held in unofficial detention centers. Many
are tortured and later executed (Washington Post: LaFraniere
29 June 2002). A witness described some of the victims of one
such operation: "One man’s eyes had been gouged out; another’s
fingers had been cut off. A third person’s back had been sliced
with a sharp edge of broken glass, doused with alcohol, and
then set on fire" (Washington Post: LaFraniere 29 June
2002). A Russian Army officer who fled Moscow claimed that young
cadets in his elite airborne unit encouraged soldiers to execute
civilians during assaults (New York Times: Tyler 17 March 2002).
Chechen Rebels: Since the end
of Russia’s bombing campaign against Grozny, the conflict in
Chechnya has consisted largely of ambushes by Chechen rebels
and subsequent operations by Russian security forces, causing
increased violence in the Caucasus (HRW: "Russia: Last
Seen" April 2002). Time Daily notes that Chechen militias
are motivated by religious hatred, nationalism, and their own
survival (Time Daily: "A Report"). Many believe that,
since the renewed Russian offensive, they are fighting a jihad
(holy war) against Moscow. Furthermore, an increasing number
of young people are joining the ranks of Chechen fighters, as
they are motivated by extreme violence committed against their
family members and friends (Prague Watchdog: 14 July 2002).
Chechen resistance forces continue to strike against Russian
targets, having downed Russian aircraft and killed a number
of Russian troops (Russian Informational Centre: 22 July 2002).
If more Chechen rebel strikes occur the result will likely be
more Russian reprisals against Chechens, including Chechen civilians.
Overall, casualties of Chechens are much higher than those
of Russians. Chechen rebels reportedly kill an average of one
to two Russian soldiers per day, while the number of dead and
missing Chechens is certainly in the thousands (Washington Post:
LaFraniere 29 June 2002).
Aslan Maskhadov: Maskhadov
was the chief of staff of the Chechen rebel armed forces during
the 1994 – 1996 war and was instrumental in negotiating the
e. In 1997, Maskhadov won a bid for president, on the platform
that he would bring about a more peaceful future (BBC News:
16 March 2000). Although President Maskhadov has historic links
to "terrorist" groups, he says that these ties diminished
with a schism between Shamil Basayev and himself.
Shamil Basayev: Basayev is
the commander of the rebel Mujahideen force, a position that
he had held during the 1994 – 1996 war. After losing a bid for
president, he was named Prime Minister of Chechnya under Aslan
Maskhadov. When he was unable to end the rampant kidnapping
and crime in Chechnya, he left office and returned once again
to lead the Mujahideen forces (BBC News: 30 Sept 1999).
Nature of the Abuse
General Vladimir Moltenskoi, the Russian commander of forces
in Chechnya, has admitted that his troops have committed "widespread
crimes" during searches in Sernovodsk and Assinovskaya.
According to the daily paper Vremya Novostei, male villagers
were gathered in a field and beaten by Russian troops (NY Times:
Tyler 12 July 2001). Witnesses claim that over 100 armored personnel
carriers set up mass "filtration" centers in these
cities, where the men were beaten and given electric shocks
during interrogations (Chechnya News: 12 July 2001). The Kremlin
has launched an investigation into these allegations.
Such "cleansing operations" are common in Chechnya,
with recent examples of recent operations in Argun, Chechnya’s
third largest city, and in Tsotsin-Yurt, a village with a pre-war
population of about 19,000. Russian troops reportedly surrounded
both, preventing movement in or out, before launching their
attacks. Another example of a "cleansing operation"
occurred in the village of Alleroy from August 15 to 24, 2001.
The male population over the age of thirteen and was accompanied
by beatings and torture (Memorial Human Rights Group: 24 Aug
2001). Memorial Human Rights Group has collected additional
evidence of torture and beatings during a cleansing operation
in Chiri-Yurt in May and June 2001 (Memorial Human Rights Group:
6 Aug 2001).
Forced Disappearances: In the
early hours of July 7, 2002, Russian soldiers detained brothers
Salman and Ramzan Baudinov, southwest of Grozny. Witnesses claim
that armored vehicles broke through the gates, and soldiers
burst into the house, destroying everything in their way and
forcing everyone to lie on the floor. Despite the fact that
the Baudinov brothers had no apparent ties to Chechen fighters,
they were forced barefoot into the armored personnel carrier
and taken away. At dawn, local officials and family members
began searching for information on the detained brothers, but,
to date, no information has been reported (The Prague Watchdog:
14 July 2002).
Such disappearances occur frequently in Chechnya. Bodies are
found periodically throughout the region, many of which were
people last seen in the custody of Russian military forces.
In 2000, General Kazantsev, Commander of Russia’s forces in
the Northern Caucasus, declared that all Chechen "males
between 10 and 60 will be ferried to a Chechen ‘filtration camp’
in Chernokozovo" where "they will be checked for guerilla
affiliation" (Washington Post: 12 Jan 2000). This proclamation
has facilitated the arbitrary detention and disappearance of
a number of Chechnya’s citizens:
with the discovery . . . of the dozens corpses of the "disappeared"
graves or at dump sites, it has become evident that federal
forces have used "filtration"
as a cover for torture and summary execution’ (HRW: " The
Dirty War" May 2001).
Human Rights Watch has reported eighty-seven new cases of forced
"disappearances" since March 2001, where persons were
detained, without warrant, on the grounds of verifying their
identity to determine whether or not they are involved in terrorist
activities (HRW: "Russia: Last Seen" April 2002).
Nearly half of the targeted raids took place on private residences.
Other "disappearances" continue as a result of large-scale
"sweep operations" and raids at checkpoints. Many
who resist are killed on the spot. As of December 2001, Human
Rights Watch reported 793 outstanding cases of "missing"
persons (HRW: "Russia: Last Seen" April 2002). Yet
for others, relatives discover their bodies in unmarked graves.
In the wake of September 11, 2001, there is an increased danger
of creating an environment in which any effort against terrorism
is an excuse for an arbitrary raid. These searches frequently
carried out in Chechen villages to find suspected terrorists
obscure the fact that men and boys are arbitrarily chosen to
be beaten and tortured during "filtration" activities.
Detention Facilities: "Arrests
usually followed three patterns: through identity checks at
checkpoints, within Chechnya or on Chechnya’s borders with other
republics; as part of ‘mop-up’ operations, immediately after
Russian forces would gain military control of a community; and
in other targeted sweeps of communities or households"
(HRW: October 2000). Up to 10,000 people have been arbitrarily
arrested. Some were taken to makeshift detention facilities
that are little more than pits dug into the ground and are questioned
without legal representation. Most are released within a few
hours. Others are tortured and later executed. It has been documented
that as many as 2000 have disappeared after last being seen
in the custody of Russian officials (HRW: October 2000). In
the vast majority of cases that Human Rights Watch documented,
officials at police stations or military command posts did not
formally register the detentions. Detainees are often held in
unofficial detention centers and have no access to lawyers.
Although they are interrogated, they are never formally charged.
Date: 16 June 2002
Federal troops carried out more than 10 special operations,
killing 20 suspected bandits (BBC News: 17 June 2002).
Date: 11 January 2002
Troops found the decapitated bodies of two men dressed in civilian
clothes (AFP: 11 Jan 2002).
Date: early January 2002
This cleansing operation and the one in Tsotsin-Yurt reportedly
claimed the lives of 92 "rebels" in the first ten
days (US Committee for Refugees: 16 Jan 2002).
Date: 30 December 2001
During this "cleansing operation," troops reportedly
detained about 200 residents, demanding ransoms from their families
before releasing them; 37 people were killed, and many of the
bodies were reportedly mutilated (US Committee for Refugees:
16 Jan 2002).
Date: 5 February 2001
Place: Dachny Village, near
The bodies of 51 people, predominately males, were discovered
less than a kilometer from the Khankala military base. Each
victim’s hands were bound behind his back, and all had been
shot in the head. It has been documented that sixteen of the
deceased were last seen alive in the custody of Russian soldiers
(HRW: World Report 2001).
Date: 5 February 2000
Place: Novye Aldi
Russian forces looted and set fire to civilian homes. Six cases
of rape were reported, and 40 bodies were discovered (HRW: World
Date: Late December 1999
Place: Staropromyslovskii, district
Russian soldiers killed 51 civilians. It has been reported
that most of the victims were women and elderly men, shot at
close range (HRW: February 2000).
Date: 1 December 1999
Place: Alkhan Yurt
It has been reported by a number of human rights organizations
that Russian soldiers went on a two-week rampage, systematically
looting and burning the village, and killing at least seventeen
civilians (HRW: World Report 2001).
Evidence of Torture and Extra-Judicial Executions
Date: 13 December 2001
Luiza Betergirieva of the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society,
was shot to death while riding in a car near a Russian military
checkpoint. Human Rights Watch’s Elizabeth Anderson stated,
"This killing would appear to be a horrifying tactic to
silence those who expose abuses. And in Chechnya, continued
abuses must be exposed" (HRW: 22 Dec 2001).
Date: 12 Dec 2001
The assassination of a Russian military commander preceded
a wave of reprisals in the Urus-Martan district. Federal forces
entered the village of Alkhan-Yurt in the early hours of December
9, looted and destroyed two houses, set fire to a third, and
detained as many as 6 men, whose bodies were later discovered.
Between December 9 and 14 2001, as many as 12 more bodies were
found in the region. A witness found three of the bodies mutilated.
"Musa was blown up. There were pieces of his head, an
arm and leg detached from the
body . . . There were knife wounds in Lom-Ali’s body, or wounds
from the bayonet of a
submachine gun. All the body was mutilated but it was in one
piece. The neighbor’s body –
the body of Shamil Dzhemaldaev – was mutilated too, with multiple
knife wounds and
burns" (HRW: April 2002).
Date: 26 January 2001
Place: Novey Atagi Quarry
The bodies of two men were discovered. The men had been last
seen alive twelve days earlier, when they had been detained
by federal forces. Human Rights Watch has documented that "each
man appeared to have been tortured; the tips of the fingers
appeared to have been cut off and their arm, elbows, and shoulder
blades were broken. There were ten to fifteen centimeter long
black bruises on the fronts and backs of their rib cages"
(Memorial Human Rights Group: 25 April 2001).
Date: 16, 20 September 2000
Two unmarked graves holding five bodies were discovered. It
has been reported that the victims were last seen in the custody
of Russian troops earlier that month. According to Human Rights
Watch, the bodies were severely mutilated (HRW: May 2001).
Date: 16 September 2000
Place: road near Khankala
The bodies of two cousins were discovered in an unmarked grave
near Khankala. Police had detained the two men two days earlier.
Witnesses reported to Human Rights Watch that soldiers had beaten
the men and thrown a grenade at them (Memorial Human Rights
Group: 29 March 2001).
Date: 15 September 2000
According to a witness, each of the victims had been detained
by federal troops. The next day the bodies of the men were discovered
in a nearby forest; all three showed signs of torture (HRW:
Date: 12 September 2000
Two brothers were among the four victims at Tangi-Chu. After
relatives sought information at a military base as to the brothers’
whereabouts, paying a significant sum of money, a soldier informed
the relatives where the bodies had been dumped. (HRW: May 2001).
Date: 11 September 2000
Place: Starye Atagi
Nearly nine months after being detained, the bodies of four
men were discovered; each man had been shot in the head (HRW:
Date: 15 June 2000
Place: Starye Atagi
Four bodies were discovered not far from a federal troop encampment.
The men were detained after a sweep operation on 27 January
2000. The men appeared to have been tortured; their hands were
missing, and their kneecaps were broken (Memorial Human Rights
Group: 17 June 2000).
Date: 10 May 2000
Three men, who had reportedly been detained at a Russian checkpoint
near Duba-Yurt, were discovered in an unmarked grave at the
local cemetery. The bodies showed signs of torture; the victims’
ears and noses had been cut off and there were nooses around
their necks (HRW: May 2001).
Date: 1 April 2000
Place: Assa River
Witnesses reportedly saw a man pushed from an army helicopter.
Upon examination of the body, a forensic expert reported that
the man had been alive when he was thrown from the helicopter.
Torture appeared to have transpired prior to death; the victim’s
left eyeball was found in his throat (HRW: May 2001).
Sexual Assault: There have
been numerous reports of sexual assault against Chechen men
and women. Witnesses in the field give evidence that Russian
soldiers rape Chechen women in villages, sometimes taking them
from their homes, and have sexually assaulted men and women
in detention centers and at checkpoints. Moreover, women whose
male relatives are either absent or have been disappeared are
particularly vulnerable to sexual assault. Human Rights Watch
tells the story of one woman who was in her parents’ home with
her sisters when soldiers sexually assaulted her. She states
that she suspected they returned because they knew that no men
were there (HRW: "Russian Federation. Serious Violations"
The following cases provide more detail of sexual assault crimes
Date: Early March 2002
Two sisters were detained and suffered sexual assault while
in custody. One of the women reported her story to Human Rights
Watch. She stated,
In the first place they beat me, and that was bad. But in
the second place, they said they
would rape me. That was worse. I was sitting on a chair, and
one of them grabbed me
from behind, and started to caress me, as if to calm me but
really it was terrifying saying
‘oh you’re so sweet, so tiny’. I was wearing woolen long underwear
under my skirt, and
he told me to take them and my skirt off. I was crying, and
I said I had nothing to tell
them and to leave me alone. I was practically on my knees, begging
him not to touch
me (HRW: "Russia: Investigate" 10 April 2002).
Date: 29 Jan 2002
During a sweep operation, soldiers sexually assaulted "Madina
Magomedova" (not her real name) and her sisters in their
parents’ home. "Magomedova" reported that she was
not raped but was badly beaten as she struggled against the
soldiers. She filed a criminal case with the prosecutor’s office
but chose to flee to a different town, fearing retribution (HRW:
"Russian: Investigate" 10 April 2002).
Date: 18 Oct 2001
Place: Village of Kurcheloy
Amnesty International reports that Russian Federal forces came
to the home of "Zainap" (not her real name) intending
to detain her husband. When they did not find him, the soldiers
reportedly detained "Zainap", who was eight-months
pregnant, and temporarily detained. Two women witnesses detained
with "Zainap" stated that she was repeatedly gang-raped
and ill-treated by Russian soldiers and suffered a miscarriage.
"Zainap" was later released in exchange for 10 machine
guns (Amnesty International: 25 Jan 2002).
Date: 27 March 2000
An 18-year-old-woman named Kheda Kungaeva was taken from her
home, at 1:00 am, to a military encampment. She was then beaten,
raped, and murdered. Russian authorities arrested the soldier
suspected of her rape and murder, but a psychiatric institution
found that he was "emotionally distressed" at the
time he murdered Kungaeva. This allowed the charge to be reduced
to manslaughter and opened the way for him to be amnestied (HRW:
"Russian Federation: Serious Violations" Jan 2002).
Date: 8 Feb 2000
HRW reports that in a petition to the European Court of Human
Rights, Sasita Khasmagometovna-Khasueva, a nurse from the village
of Shali, was transferred by Russian forces with her fellow
medical personnel after being detained for six days in a large
hole in the ground. She stated that the soldiers separated female
nurses from the male captives and were "stripped naked
and forced to dance in front of the soldiers" (HRW: "Russian
Federation: Serious Violations" Jan 2002).
Date: Jan 2000
"Alisa Riskanova" (not her real name) reported that
while traveling by bus with a female friend, she was stopped
by Russian soldiers, and both women were detained. She claimed
that the women were separated in two underground pits. Alisa
was beaten and raped and said one soldier told her "you
will never have children again" (HRW: "Russian Federation:
Serious Violations of Women’s Human Rights in Chechnya".
These cases show that women are sexually assaulted in their
homes, while in custody, and at checkpoints. Many women do not
report their assault for fear of retribution. Those who do report
crimes must contend with the fact that the Russian authorities
have concealed and obstructed the prosecution of government
forces for these assaults (HRW: "Russian Federation: Serious
Violations" Jan 2002).
Determination of Genocide
Although human rights violations are widespread in Chechnya,
the abuse is not considered genocide by the Center. CPG uses
a strict definition refined refined from definition established
by the 1948 UN Convention on Genocide. Violations must demonstrate
a habitual trend of massacres and civilian killings, with the
intent to bring about the destruction of an ethnic group, and
genocide must constitute the primary characteristic of the abuse.
The evidence suggests that the human rights violations that
exist in Chechnya are neither habitually nor intentionally directed
against the Chechen ethnicity as a matter of official Russian
UN Definition: The CPG invokes
sub-points (a) and (c) only in its definition of genocide, which
defines genocide to be "(a) killing members of the group
and (c) deliberately inflicting on the group, conditions of
life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole
or in part. The persecuted group must be racial, ethnic, religious
or national in nature, and must be intentionally targeted for
destruction, in whole or in part, by others.
Chechens qualify as an ethnic group and thus meet the criteria
for the first application of the UN definition of genocide.
The second application, the more compelling of the two, fails
to meet the criteria for the UN definition of genocide. While
a strong argument can be made that genocidal activities may
have occurred in Chechnya within the last few years, evident
in the discovery of mass graves, the primary nature of the abuse
is at present not genocidal. Rather, the disappearances, detainment,
assault, and killings stem from a policy that seeks to eradicate
Chechen guerilla activity in the region. The primary danger
now is that the refugee camps may soon be liquidated in Ingushetia
and the surrounding areas and that refugee may not have access
to food and water supplies. If this expected liquidation occurs,
the manner in which it is handled could determine whether or
not genocidal activity occurs in the future.
Habitual Trend: While the abuse
in Chechnya is habitual, it does not constitute genocide. Disappearances,
killings, sexual assaults are arbitrary in nature and do not
represent a systematic attempt to eradicate the Chechen ethnicity.
In previous years, Moscow has attempted to liquidate refugee
camps. However, the danger is now greater for the camps to be
shut down with the support of the pro-Russian President of Ingushetia,
where many of the camps are located. Russian policies that does
not provide for proper transportation, housing, and other infrastructural
support for refugees could lead to man-induced famine and become
genocidal in nature. Thus far, the housing centers established
in Grozny are overcrowded and do not provide adequate provisions
for the thousands of returning refugees.
Intentional: In previous years,
mass graves have been discovered that provide evidence of past
Chechen massacres. There is presently no evidence to suggest
similar massacres are still occurring. The incidences of killings
put forth in this report are comparatively small in number,
and most are examples of killings during arbitrary "cleansing
operations" after civilians have been detained.
However, if the Russian government pursues its policy of refugee
camp liquidation and does not take due care to prevent man-induced
famine and other human rights violations that could kill large
numbers of Chechens, there will be a strong argument that Russian
authorities will have acted with intent.
Primary Characteristic: Intentional
killing of the Chechen ethnicity is not the primary characteristic
of the present conflict in Chechnya. Rather, the primary characteristic
is suppression of Chechen guerillas by Russian forces. "Cleansing"
operations, disappearances, detentions, killings, and sexual
assaults stem from the brutality used by Russian forces in attempting
to curb Chechen guerilla activity.
Furthermore, the current conflict includes strong religious
and political elements. Islamic Chechen rebel separatists seek
political separation from the Russian Federation. As such, Chechen
rebels commit acts of violence against Russian forces, prompting
violent reprisals against all Chechens, including civilians,
suspected of rebel linkages.
Mass bombing of civilian centers, such as occurred in Grozny
in the 1994 to 1996 war and again in 1999, and evidences of
mass killings indicate that genocidal acts have taken place
in Chechnya in recent years as part of Russian attempts to eradicate
The conflict in the Northern Caucasus has not been determined
to be genocide.
In November 2001, the Chechen and Russian governments agreed
to negotiate a peace and, in June 2002, President Putin accepted
blame for the violence against Chechen civilians, promising
to discontinue the "cleansing" operations (Washington
Post: 24 June 2002). While this may indicate a potential cessation
of the conflict in Chechnya, continued vigilance remains necessary
to ensure that genocide does not occur in the future, particularly
with regard to the threat that refugee camps are to be closed
before Winter 2002 and that all refugees are to be returned
Agence France-Presse. "UN Suspends Chechnya Operations
After Kidnapping". 29 July 2002.
–. "Twenty-Five Killed in Chechnya, Two of Them Decapitated:
Russia" 11 Jan 2002.
Amnesty International. "Russian Federation: Women and Girls
Victims of Human Rights Abuses". 25
January 2002. http://www.amnesty.org.
BBC News: 16 March 2000.
–. 30 Sept 1999.
–. "Russian Troops Continue Security Sweeps in Chechnya"
17 June 2002.
Chechnya News. "Russian Commander Admits Chechnya ‘Crimes’
". 12 July 2001.
Damrel, David. "The Religious Roots of the Conflict: Russia
and Chechnya". Russia Studies News. Sept
Goldman, Stuart D. "Russia". Congressional Research
Service Issue Brief: Foreign Affairs, Defense,
And Trade Division: 23 August 2001.
Human Rights Watch. "Don’t Reward Russia Again". 1
October 1999. http://www.hrw.org
–. "Russia: Last Seen . . . Continued ‘Disappearances’
in Chechnya". April 2002.
–. "Russian Federation. Serious Violations of Women’s
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