On the Situation of Residents of Chechnya
in the Russian Federation July 2005 – July 2006
Based on the materials gathered by the Migration Rights Network, Memorial Human Rights Center,
Civic Assistance Committee, Internet Publication Caucasian Knot, SOVA Information and Analysis Center, and others
Gannushkina Svetlana (Head of the “Migration and Law” Network, Chairperson of Civic Assistance Committee, Member of the board of the “Memorial” Human Rights Center)
Text in Russian
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MEMORIAL Human Rights Center Migration Rights Network
by Svetlana A. Gannushkina
On the Situation of Residents of Chechnya
in the Russian Federation
July 2005 – July 2006
The project is funded by the European Commission
Based on the materials gathered by the Migration Rights Network,
Memorial Human Rights Center, Civic Assistance Committee,
Internet Publication Caucasian Knot, SOVA Information and Analysis Center, and others
Head of the Migration Rights Network
Chairwoman of the Civic Assistance Committee
compiler of the Report
Other contributors to the Report included: A. Barakhoyev, Ye. Burtina, S. Magomedov, Ye. Ryabinina, and Sh. Tangiyev
The Migration Rights Network of Memorial Human Rights Center
has 56 offices providing free legal assistance to forced migrants, including five offices located in Chechnya and Ingushetia (
In Moscow lawyers from the Migration Rights Network use the charitable Civic Assistance Committee for Refugee Aid as their base (www.refugee.ru).
Circulated free of charge
List of Abbreviations
II. Living Conditions and the Security Situation of Internally Displaced Persons and Residents of the Chechen Republic
III. The Situation of People from Chechnya in the Republic of Ingushetia
IV. The Situation of People from Chechnya in Russia’s Regions
V. Abductions of Civilians in the Military Conflict Zone in the North Caucasus
From April 5 to April 11, 2006, Russia was visited by the UN High Commissioner
for Refugees António Guterres.
In the course of a week, the Commissioner held a number of meetings with officials in Moscow, Saint Petersburg and in the North Caucasus.
During those meetings and at the press conference held on April 11 the Commissioner set out the priorities for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the Russian Federation.
The High Commissioner for Refugees paid the most attention to the situation in the North Caucasus.
So, our fears about the UNHCR giving up protection of internally displaced persons in Russia proved groundless. Mr. Guterres once again reiterated that forced displacements of citizens within the country cannot be seen as a purely domestic problem. Although the state bears primary responsibility for the lives of its citizens, the international community cannot stay idle concerning either the protection of the interests of IDPs or assistance to them in restoring decent living standards.
Much has been written about Mr. Guterres’ mission to the North Caucasus. In all the three republics the UN mission visited, it was met with hospitality and openness. North Ossetia’s authorities gave assurances that by the end of the year the effects of the Osset-Ingush conflict would have been eliminated. The Chechen authorities acknowledged the existing problems of abduction and disappearance of people, but promised to ensure safety for the UNHCR mission if it decided to move to Chechnya.
The Commissioner almost promised that it would happen soon; he expressed the UNHCR’s intention to contribute to better security in the Chechen Republic.
Regrettably, good intentions and opportunities are two different things. What concretely can the UNHCR do to ensure or maintain security in the North Caucasus?
It so happened that on April 9, precisely on the day Mr. Guterres was visiting Chechnya, Bulat Chilayev, a member of Civic Assistance Committee, a partner of UNHCR, and his passenger Aslan Israilov, the grand-son of the Chilayevs’ neighbor, were detained by security agencies during a special operation and disappeared without a trace .
Unfortunately, this was by no means an exceptional incident for the Chechen Republic. Therefore, we are grateful to the UNHCR and other international organizations for their help in rebuilding Chechnya, however, as far as security is concerned, the potentials of international organizations or foreign states are unlikely to prove to be significant and meaningful.
What can they do to help combat xenophobia, discrimination against minorities and racially motivated crimes, which are on the rise in Russia?
How can the leaders of states, even if these are the G8 states, strictly ensure justice for human rights abuses in another country which is a member of the same club and is rich in oil to boot?
We are constantly being told about the risk of Russia “banging the door” and haughtily withdrawing from negotiating tables. We are told that influence is being exerted on our government, behind closed doors.
It is obvious, however, that such a policy has failed. Human rights violations, justified by anti-terror campaign, are becoming the rule in Russia and are spreading into increasingly bigger parts of the globe.
We should talk about it frankly, openly and honestly, without looking back at the interests of the state. The value of human life, of another person’s life should be placed above one’s personal comfort.
And giving shelter to the persecuted who managed to get to your threshold requires just a minimum of morality.
We should not forget that this is a duty set out in the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. We should not allow the moral standard set by the previous generations to be lowered.