Friday, May 26, 2006

Chechnya: Protestors demand removal of ORB-2 Police Unit

May 23rd 2006 · Prague Watchdog / Umalt Chadayev (my translation)

Protestors in Grozny demand removal of notorious federal police unit from Chechnya

By Umalt Chadayev

GROZNY, Chechnya – A protest rally by local residents took place today in front of the complex of government buildings in the Chechen capital. The protestors’ basic demand was the removal of the federal police – the Operational/Search Bureau (ORB-2) – from the territory of the republic.

Around thirty people took part in the protest action. Almost all who took part were relatives of local residents who have been subjected to unsanctioned arrest or have disappeared without trace after being detained by law-enforcement officials.

"We have one demand – the removal from Chechnya of ORB-2, whose officials flagrantly violate human rights, detain people illegally and subject them to maltreatment and torture in attempt to make them confess to crimes they haven’t committed,” said one of the rally participants, 48-year-old Dagmara, a resident of Grozny.

“As far as we know, this agency (ORB-2) is not accountable to the local authorities, but is under the direct control of the Southern Federal Region. Our republic’s leadership is therefore unable to intervene in the activity of the officials of this agency who take advantage of their total immunity and are carrying out the most arbitrary repression here.”

In April this year the Moscow-backed Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov also spoke out in rather forceful terms for the removal of ORB-2 from the republic’s territory. Kadyrov accused its officials of illegal arresting local residents and of the brutal treatment of detainees. However, the same accusations are generally made against Kadyrov's own forces, popularly called "Kadyrovites".

"ORB-2 is the only agency that still escapes our attempts to make it observe elementary legal principles,” Kadyrov said. “I know that the people at ORB-2 flagrantly violate the law. They fabricate criminal charges where no crime has taken place. They break into houses wearing masks, presenting themselves as "Kadyrovites", and they kidnap people. I will try to secure the removal of this unit from the republic, as its officials are illegally detaining citizens, beating them up and brutally mistreating them.”

However, in the opinion of a number of observers Kadyrov is only trying to secure the withdrawal of ORB-2 from the republic’s territory because it is under federal control.

"Unlike the other local law-enforcement agencies, ORB-2 is not subordinate to the republic’s leadership. This agency is headed by Colonel Akhmet Khasambekov, a man of rigid principle. Also, he’s not one of ‘Kadyrov’s team’. While it’s possible that ORB-2 officials are guilty of human rights violations, I don’t think Kadyrov’s desire to remove this agency from Chechnya stems only from that,” a local political analyst says.
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