Russian Human Rights
violations in Chechnya serious
Russia is carrying out
"serious human rights violations" in Chechnya,
and the routine use of torture by police to extract confessions from
detainees and "degrading" prison conditions are also causing concern,
Amnesty International said in a report published on last month.
Presenting the report in Moscow, an Amnesty official complained that
representations to the Russian authorities by human rights defenders had
Security forces in the breakaway southern republic committed
human rights violations and breached international humanitarian law with
almost total impunity," Amnesty said in its annual report.
Violations reported in the conflict zone included extra judicial
executions, "disappearances," torture and rape, the London-based rights
group said, noting that the notorious military sweeps, or "zachistki,"
continued to be accompanied by serious rights violations, looting and
The situation in Chechnya was characterized by the absence of the rule of
law, with few of the thousands of crimes against civilians committed by
Russian federal forces ever investigated and even fewer taken to court, it
Last September, Amnesty noted, a Russian official reported that 44 members
of the Russian forces had been convicted for crimes against civilians for
murder, rape and causing physical harm and death through carelessness.
At the same time, Chechen fighters intensified their activities in the
latter part of the year, and the attitude of the federal forces towards
the local population hardened still further.
In particular, last October's hostage seizure in a Moscow theatre was
followed by an increase in the number of detentions, while raids by
security forces in Djokhar were carried out with great brutality, Amnesty
In the wake of the hostage taking, law enforcement agencies cracked down
on Chechen civilians throughout Russia, it said.
Discrimination on grounds of race was widespread in Russia, with
continuing racist attacks by "non-state actors," it noted. Many such
attacks were not reported to police because the victims feared further
abuse, Amnesty said.
Russian authorities did little in response to racist statements by public
figures in Russia's regions, it stressed.
Asylum-seekers and refugees suffered the additional difficulty that their
documentation was frequently not recognized by police.
In general "police reportedly tortured and ill-treated detainees in
custody in order to extract confessions, virtually as a matter of
routine," with members of ethnic minorities and the poor most at risk.
However Nicola Duckworth, Amnesty's representative for Europe, said that
complaints by Amnesty and other non-government organizations about
specific cases had drawn no response from Russian officials.
we have seen security speak louder than human rights," Duckworth told a
She cited in particular an open letter addressed to President Vladimir
Putin concerning "hundreds of thousands" of residents of former Soviet
republics who have been denied their right to Russian citizenship "for
reasons of discrimination."
Moreover the situation in Chechnya will not improve "until the Russian
government takes steps to end impunity," she said.
Council of Caucasus
Journalists.Translated from Russian by Kavkaz-Center