Sunday, January 22, 2006

Imitation Operations

An article I just translated for the Prague Watchdog:

"Special operations" or imitations?

By Umalt Chadayev

CHECHNYA – In Chechnya there are cases where representatives of security agencies [silovyye struktury] report "successful special operations against fighters" which have not actually taken place.

On January 6 on the outskirts of the village of Bamut in the Achkhoy-Martanovsky district (south-west Chechnya), members of the “Akhmad Kadyrov” special-purpose regiment of the Chechen Interior Ministry conducted a "successful special operation", in the course of which four guerrillas were killed. Information about this was disseminated by several Russian media, with reference to Hussein Aydamirov, head of the local police department.

According to the official information, the group that was eliminated planned to carry out a number of acts of sabotage and terrorism against law enforcers and public officials. "We received operational information about the preparation of provocations, and took pre-emptive measures", Aydamirov stated.

However, representatives of human rights organizations say there was actually no “armed clash with a group of saboteurs" on the outskirts of Bamut. Instead, the security agencies simply carried out the imitation of a battle and successful special operation.

"We have an eyewitness, a resident of the village of Bamut, who gave the following testimony. On January 6 he noticed two white “Niva” vehicles on the outskirts of the village. Men in military uniform got out of them (the source assumes that these were local law enforcers), who took out some large objects and threw them into the ditches at the side of the road. After the vehicles left, he discovered there four half-dressed, badly disfigured male corpses (the bones of the slain men had been broken to such an extent that the bodies were folded in half). In addition, the slain men’s clothing was clearly not their own," says a member of the human rights centre Memorial in Grozny.

"This was reported to the district police station (ROVD) of the Achkhoy-Martanovsky district and to the prosecutor’s office. They in turn summoned military personnel from Khankala (the main Russian military base in Chechnya), who after inspecting the corpses loaded them into an ambulance and took away with them. Thus, their identities were not established. But the next day information was disseminated to the effect that that an armed clash had taken place on the outskirts of Bamut, and that ‘four members of a bandit formation under the leadership of field commander Dokku Umarov were liquidated’," he said.

"We have also recorded earlier cases of the imitation of military operations,” says the human rights activist. "For example, on May 9 last year, according to the official version, a battle between a group of eight guerrillas and members of the Security Service of the [Moscow-backed] Chechen President (presently the Anti-Terrorist Centre, but usually called “kadyrovites” by the inhabitants of the republic.) In the course of the exchange of fire the eight guerrillas were reportedly killed.."

“It later became known that among the “slain guerrillas” Khamid Akuyev, a resident of Gudermes, born in 1981, who had earlier been abducted from his grandmother’s house by “kadyrovites”, was identified by relatives. Khamidov’s mother repeatedly applied without success to the various law enforcement agencies, attempting to establish his whereabouts, and then identified her son among the photographs of the "slain guerrillas", which were shown to her at the Kurchaloysky district police station. Moreover, a passport in the name of a Grozny resident called Kulishov was found on one of the slain men. This man had been abducted from his own house on the night of March 14, 2005 by unknown persons," says the human rights defender.

"Or another example. On the night of May 13 on the outskirts of the village of Ishkhoy-Yurt, in the Gudermessky district, a skirmish also took place between members of the SB and a force of guerrillas. In the process of the fight two “kadyrovites” were killed, and four more were wounded. In the morning, two men who were being detained at the SB base in the village of Tsentoroy (Kadyrovs’ native village) were brought to the site of the armed clash and shot dead. In the evening, the corpses of the slain men were taken to the Gudermessky district police station. Khozh-Baudi Borkhadzhiyev, editor of the newspaper Gums, who happened to be there, recognized one of the slain men as his nephew Ilman Khadisov, born 1982, who was detained by "kadyrovites" in March 2005,” he asserts.

According to the source, there are very many similar cases of extra-judicial executions of innocent civilians who are subsequently called "slain guerillas", but not all of the cases reach the public domain and are recorded documentarily, since the relatives of the slain often hide information about what happened, fearing persecution".

"In my view, in cases of this kind the officials of the law enforcement agencies mainly pursue their own personal, mercenary interests. According to some data, they receive a bonus of 18,000 roubles for one hour of participation in a ‘special operation’ or armed clash. It’s probably for this very reason that many ‘special operations’ against the guerrillas last for several hours, with the deployment of heavy military equipment, even in cases of resistance by only one man, who is often armed only with a pistol," says the human rights activist.

Meanwhile on January 17 it was announced at a board meeting of the Moscow-backed Chechen Interior Ministry held in Grozny that last year 140 guerrillas were killed in Chechnya, including "25 leaders of bandit groups”. In the same period officials of the law-enforcement agencies detained 311 fighters, of whom 13 were also "bandit leaders". Losses among officials of the Chechen Interior Ministry were 121 killed and 283 wounded.


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