Thursday, April 20, 2006

Chechnya: Relatives to be Taken Hostage

From Prague Watchdog:

Shatoysky district: Relatives of guerrillas may be subjected to reprisals

By Umalt Chadayev

CHECHNYA - The new command of the Shatoysky district police department plans to take relatives of guerrillas hostage, claim the local people.

"In early March [the Moscow-backed Chechen Premier] Ramzan Kadyrov replaced the district administration and police leadership and immediately began to purge the district police," says Shatoysky resident Adam Musayev.

"As far as I know, the police did make an attempt to round up the guerrillas of the top guerrilla commander Dokka Umarov, but they were ambushed and four of them were captured by the guerrillas," Musayev stated.

"Afterwards, a large meeting of law enforcers took place here. And two weeks ago, in a mosque during Friday prayers, members of the new police command announced that all guerrillas hiding in the Shatoysky district must lay down their arms and surrender by April 15. They promised amnesty and assistance in finding jobs, but warned that anyone who refused, would see his relatives be taken as hostage," Musayev added.

"With the arrival of the new command everything started changing, mostly for the worse,” says a local policeman. "A huge number of Kadyrov's forces were deployed here demanding to know who is a guerrilla, who helps the guerrillas, etc." he said, adding that over the last couple of weeks six of his colleagues have lost their jobs on suspicion of sympathizing and assisting the guerrillas.

When visiting the Shatoysky district on March 10, Ramzan Kadyrov sharply criticized the district administration and police department, accusing them of being totally passive. "In this district there are a lot of troops and police, but no results," he said. "During the past years only a few guerrillas have been detained or liquidated. And this is taking place against the backdrop of information about an inflow of forces into guerrilla groups in Chechen districts. No one is working with the residents; no one is carrying out raids or special operations."

Kadyrov's visit resulted in replacing the district administration and police heads. The new police chief, Adam Arsaliyev, is a former battalion commander serving in the Chechen Interior Ministry. Locals says that the intention of reprisals against the relatives of guerrillas might well lead to dire consequences.

The practice of taking relatives of Chechen resistance leaders and field commanders as hostages began during the second Chechen war. The best known cases included the relatives of Magomed Khambiyev, former Defense Minister of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, in the spring of 2004; then father, brother, wife and baby son of field commander Dokka Umarov in 2005; and the brothers, elderly sister and cousins of the late President of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, Aslan Maskhadov.

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