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Country Report: Chechnya by Jennifer Nelson

Danger of Catastrophe in Refugee Repatriation


The current conflict in Chechnya began in 1999. The violence has not subsided. As a result, refugees have fled Chechnya into neighboring republics of the Russian Federation, including Ingushetia, where as many as 200,000 Chechens are living. Moscow has called for all tent camps to be dismantled and for all displaced Chechens in Ingushetia to be returned to Chechnya (Washington Post: "Chechnya’s Refugees" 10 June 2002). Some 300 families are to be moved per week and, despite the Russian government’s claims that no one will be forcibly moved, reports have surfaced that food, water, and electricity supplies have already been cut off in some camps (Medecins Sans Frontiers: Van’t Land 26 July 2002). Russian President Vladimir Putin appears ready to remove all Chechen refugees from camps in Ingushetia, and those who do not comply may be targeted for removal (Washington Post: 10 June 2002). Russian Human Rights Ombudsman, Oleg Mironov, admits that if Chechens are forcibly removed, the result could be one of the worst human rights crises in recent Russian history (Washington Post: 10 June 2002).


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.

Current Situation

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 June 2002).

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.

Key Players

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" April 2002).

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

"Cleansing" Operations: 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" in unmarked
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
Place: Grozny
Victims: 20

Federal troops carried out more than 10 special operations, killing 20 suspected bandits (BBC News: 17 June 2002).

Date: 11 January 2002
Place: Chali
Victims: 2

Troops found the decapitated bodies of two men dressed in civilian clothes (AFP: 11 Jan 2002).

Date: early January 2002
Place: Argun
Victims: unknown

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
Place: Tsotsin-Yurt
Victims: 37

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 Khankala
Victims: 51

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
Victims: 40

Russian forces looted and set fire to civilian homes. Six cases of rape were reported, and 40 bodies were discovered (HRW: World Report 2001).

Date: Late December 1999
Place: Staropromyslovskii, district of Groan
Victims: 51

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
Victims: 17

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
Place: Argun
Victims: 1

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
Place: Urus-Martan
Victims: unknown

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
Victims: 2

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
Place: Jalka
Victims: 5

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
Victims: 2

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
Place: Jalka
Victims: 3

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: May 2001).

Date: 12 September 2000
Place: Tangi-Chu
Victims: 4

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
Victims: 4

Nearly nine months after being detained, the bodies of four men were discovered; each man had been shot in the head (HRW: May 2001).

Date: 15 June 2000
Place: Starye Atagi
Victims: 4

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
Place: Tangi-Chu
Victims: 3

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
Victims: 1

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" Jan 2002).

The following cases provide more detail of sexual assault crimes against Chechens:

Date: Early March 2002
Place: Unknown
Victims: 2

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
Place: Unknown
Victims: Multiple

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
Victims: 1

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
Place: Unknown
Victims: 1

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
Place: Chernokozovo
Victims: multiple

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
Place: Kavkaz
Victims: 2

"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". Jan 2002).

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 policy.

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 guerilla activity.

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 to Chechnya.

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