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    Russia Killed 1123 Chechen Civilians in 2002: Report -

    Russia Killed 1123 Chechen Civilians in 2002: Report

    BONN, April 19 - The Russian military abuses in Chechnya leave more than 100 civilians killed, executed, abducted or tortured every month, according to an official Russian report carried by a German newspaper on Friday, April 19.

    The report, a copy of which handed to Russian President Vladimir Putin during a January meeting of the National Security Council, carries the first official admission by Moscow of criminal acts perpetrated by its forces in the Muslim republic, Frankfurter Rundschau reported.

    It lists names of 1,123 Chechen civilians killed by the Russian units in 2002, nearly 95 ones a month.

    According to the official Russian report, a large number of other Chechen civilians are still missing while many corpses were found littered down the roads.

    Russian officials have denied the existence of the leaked document, saying some circles in Europe were using it as an excuse to try to set up a war crimes tribunal for the region.

    Noticeably, the information mentioned in the report was approved by the Russian-backed Chechen administration which itself issued another report worded by its officials.

    Seventy civilians were executed, 145 abducted, 25 bodies found with clear signs of severe torture this year, read the second report.

    It cited, an example of these crimes, an attack by four U.S.-made armored vehicles which drove into a house of Aischat Meschijewa in Grozny at a January dawn.

    The Russian forces abducted Meschijewa, her husband and two sons after being severely beaten by the buts of their machine-guns.

    The German newspaper quoted Russian Emergency Ministry officials as saying that they discovered new 49 mass graves in Chechnya with 2,879 bodies buried inside.

    The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) denounced in its latest report the Russian government for such acts.

    But Abdul-Khakim Sultygov, Putin's envoy for human rights in Chechnya, denied the existence of such government reports and denounced HRW.

    "Rather than a human rights organization, it is an extremist organization spreading totalitarian notions about Europe's democratic values," Interfax quoted him as saying.

    "Legally Established"

    In the meanwhile, the Russian opposition daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta presented another report on Wednesday, April 16, supposedly compiled by Chechen Prosecutor General Vladimir Kravchenko and presented to a secret meeting of Chechen security forces in early March.

    "The fact that dozens, if not hundreds, of Russian soldiers and police officers systematically break the law in Chechnya has been legally established," the report says, according to Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

    The report says that prosecutors had opened 1,178 investigations into the disappearance of 1,663 civilians in Chechnya since Russian forces pushed into the republic in October 1999.

    In 2002, prosecutors opened 565 investigations into repeated cases of abduction, the report says.

    "Out of this total, 300 include evidence implicating representatives of Russian federal forces," the report said.

    There are clear evidence that Russian intelligence bodies FSB and GRU are involved in these military crimes through special assassination units they had formed for carrying them out, according to the Russian human rights group Memorial.

    "The Russian leaders are even proud of these crimes, as the commander of the GRU assassination unit said in press reports that the best way to secure victory in this war is kill the Chechen 'dogs' in the dark," said chief of the group Alexander Tscherkassow.

    He said that the current Russian "terrorism" does not as much differ from crimes committed, upon orders from Stalin, against the Caucasus Republic in 1937-1938.

    The Grozny administration's commission of missing said that 2800 Chechens disappeared since the first Chechen War, 46 in every 10,000 inhabitants, while the number stood at 44 in every 10,000 at the Russian dictator's era, he added.

    International human rights groups expressed disappointment with the failure of the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC), meeting in Geneva Thursday, April 17, to approve strong condemnations of the Russian government for ongoing rights abuses in Chechnya.

    A resolution introduced by European Union (EU) countries that urged Russia to address serious abuses, including summary executions, torture, and disappearances in Chechnya was rejected in a 15-21 vote.

    Amnesty International said it was "profoundly disappointed" by that result, charging that serious abuses take place "on a daily basis in Chechnya."

    The UNHRC's lack of action on this situation is a "blatant disregard of the suffering of the victims of such abuses and their relatives, and the risks to which civilians continue to be exposed," Amnesty stressed. The U.S. decided against co-sponsoring the resolution.


    Joining the wave of condemnation, the Council of Europe, a pan-continental human rights body, called for the creation of an international tribunal to try war crimes committed in Chechnya.

    Such a tribunal should be set up to try war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Chechnya "if the current climate of impunity continues to prevail," the Council's Parliamentary Assembly said Wednesday.

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