MINELRES: Chechens in Moscow are persecuted after the hostages case

Alexander Ossipov minelres@lists.delfi.lv
Sat Nov 9 13:06:13 2002

Civic Assistance Committee


Chechens' rights violations in Moscow after the seizure of hostages at
the theatre

By Svetlana Gannushkina, Co-chair of the Civic Assistance Committee

The seizure of hostages in the theatre by a group of Chechen terrorists
has aggravated the situation Moscow Chechens are in by leading to the
reinforcement of police control and to the growing nationalistic moods.
The seizure was followed by the initiation of the operation "Groza"
("Thunderstorm"), which provided for a reinforced regime of work of the
military forces in Moscow. Despite the fact, that different high-rank
officials declare persecution of Chechens not permissible, ordinary
policemen have not restricted themselves to a simple questioning of the
living in the district, which is, in fact, a rather dubious procedure
form the legal point of view. These kinds of checks are discriminating
against Chechens, whose nationality seems to be the only grounds for
questioning. Moreover, various human rights violations and actions not
in the
jurisdiction of law enforcement agencies are taking place such as
compulsory arrest and stay at the police department, interrogation,
having the fingerprints taken, threats of eviction due to the absence of
registration, etc. Besides, just like after the explosions in Moscow in
1999, there are
examples of criminal cases falsification, when police plants drugs or
arms. The lawyer of the “Civic Assistance" Committee is now working on
two similar cases, and the information from unofficial sources testifies
to the fact that the number of these cases exceeds one hundred.
children complain of being insulted at schools or even not let into
schools until they get registered in Moscow.

For instance, on October, 25 the girl named Isita came home from school
crying and said she would never go there again. Her teacher addressed
the whole class and said: "Boys and girls, Isita is a Chechen, you must
know it". An employee of the "Civic Assistance" Committee
called the school and asked the headmaster to sort out the conflict and
do their best, co that Isita could study. The headmaster denied the
fact, that such an incident could happen, but promised, that everything
would be alright.

On October, 26 a Chechen family addressed the "Civic Assistance"
Committee. At 6 p.m. the day before an officer from the police
department "Maryino" called on them and demanded to follow him. The wife
refused to go and leave her children, and so her husband went with
their passports, but an hour later there was a phone call ordering her
to come as well. The spouses returned home at 10 p.m. At the police
department their fingerprints and pictures were taken, the information
about their height weight and details was put down. They were asked
where they were and what they did during the capture of the theatre,
whether they had witnesses. Having asked the detective, what the grounds
for the interrogation were, they got the following answer: "Don't you
watch TV? What other grounds do you need?" The detective said they had
killed 90 people. She kept repeating the same questions several times,
and the spouses had the impression that she was drunk. At first the
policemen wanted to take their passports, but then gave them back. All
the other policemen, the officer on duty and the head spoke to them

The same evening a Chechen woman called the Committee. Her 23-year-old
son was taken to the same police department "Maryino". The woman went
with him and though she was not allowed into the detective's office, she
heard everything behind the door. The detective scolded
at the son, using rude informal language, insulted him. Other officers
also insulted and shouted, that they would plant drugs and send him to

On October,30 at 1 a.m. an officer from the police department
“Golovinsky” burst into a flat,  where a Chechen family lived without
asking for permission or presenting the necessary papers. He behaved
inadequately, spoke in an extremely rude way and kept on saying: “You
terrorists and bandits”. Having made sure, that all the members of the
family had the registration either in Moscow or in the Moscow region, he
announced that it didn’t matter, because they don’t live according to
the address of the registration and gave them the time till Monday
(November,4) to get out, otherwise they would be kicked out with the
help of a police unit. The officer ignored all the objections arguing
that his opinion meant more due to his position. He also shouted that he
had been to Afghanistan and to Chechnya (four times), where he “killed
men and
women for money” (quotation), that he would send to prison the elder boy
of the Chechen family, because he knew how to do it and had already done
the same to two Chechens, but they were released, etc. Then the officer
took the father of the family to the police department, where he
repeated his insults and threats.

Another Chechen family consisting of nine people (three of whom are
small children and one is a disabled woman) had nowhere to live and the
only housing they managed to find was a flat ruined by fire in an
abandoned house. They have redecorated the flat and are leaving in it
now. The house is no longer considered residential and is to be
reconstructed, but the reconstruction keeps being postponed. Almost all
the flats are occupied by people in similar situation, among them there
are two more Chechen families. On October,30 officers form the police
“Krasnoselsky” and municipal housing authorities came to the house with
a welder (obviously intending to weld all the doors) and demanded to
vacate the house. However, these officials didn’t have the Prosecutor’s
sanctions to evict the people. They answered the question about the
grounds for eviction by another question: “Don’t you watch TV?” The
Chechen family refused to leave the flat and the eviction was postponed
until November,1. As the eviction concerned only the three Chechen
families, the action can not but be regarded as anti-Chechen.

The “Civic Assistance” Committee continues to receive similar
complaints. A more detailed version of such law violations can be found
on the site www.refugee.ru

One of the persons, who needs help desperately is Usmanova Elita, 1969,
4 children

After the first military campaign she came back to Chechnya, to the
village of Tsotsi-Yurt. Her life there was neither quiet, nor peaceful
even in the period between the two wars. The children couldn’t study, as
the schools were closed and some teachers were even killed. When the
second campaign started, Elita with her children and husband had to
leave again.

Last year she managed to secure a permanent registration for herself and
her children in the Moscow region, so the most pressing problem is
solved. The elder children: Ahmed (16), Anzor (14), Zulihan (10), go to
school in Moscow. The most important thing for Elita now is to provide
her children with an opportunity to go on with the education, and this
is possible only if they stay at this very school, where the teachers
and classmates are friendly with them. The children had to stay away
from school for two years, so the eldest boy is only in the ninth grade
now. He is to pass his exams in spring and if he doesn’t fail, there are
two more years at school and then entering one of Moscow higher
educational establishments without any exams according to the agreement
the school has with a number of them. This would be a wonderful chance
to make the life of the family better.

But the situation the family is now facing makes them think not about
higher education, but about the approaching winter and ways of getting
over it.

Elita can’t find any accommodation. Her husband recently left her and
then went back to Chechnya. Her brothers live with their families on a
ruined sheep farm. Her father is an old sick man, who stayed in Chechnya
and is now living a very poor life with no means to help his daughter.
There is no place for Elita to return to, and she doesn’t want to leave
Moscow so that her elder children could enjoy the schooling and her
younger daughter (1,5 years old) the necessary treatment.

Until recently she lived with the parents of her son’s classmate, who
rented a two-room flat just near the school, but in summer the owners of
the flat made a deal with a richer lodger. Now she lives in terrible
conditions with almost twenty people sharing a one-room flat: the owner
of the
flat, an elderly pensioner, who has let five Chechen women with their
children to live there in exchange for their help (they cook and pay for
the light, gas and water). Even when the children are in the
kindergarten, there is still too little place to sleep for the others.

How can you help?

Elita needs financial help in order to be able to rent a flat, as she
has nowhere to live (that makes at least 200$ per month), and to buy
clothes and food for her family.

How to contact us:

email: refugeeru@yandex.ru

telephone number in Moscow  973-54-74, the city code 095
fax                                             251-53-19, the city code