Global Policy Forum

The Situation in the Chechen Republic

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Human Rights, Humanitarian and Legal Aspects

Russian Mission to the UN, unofficial translation
January 2000

1. In accordance with the Constitution of the Russian Federation in force the Chechen Republic is one of the 89 constituent entities of the Federation. However, due to unilateral decisions of the Chechen Republic's leadership its representatives have not taken part in the work of the Council of the Federation or the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation.


2. Until the mid 90's the main sectors of the Chechen economy were gas (107.1 mln m3 per year 0.1% of the Russian Federation's production) and oil extraction (385.000 t per year 0.1% of the Russian Federation's production) and their processing and refining, as well as electricity production (238.6 mln kWt-hr per year 0.03% of the Russian Federation's production). By the end of the 90's due to the criminal activities of the Chechen authorities the Republic's economy was all but totally destroyed and the means of production pilfered.

3. Before October 1991 (the actual date of D. Dudaev's rise to power) Chechnya's population was over 1 million persons including 744,500 Chechens (57.8%); 229,500 Russians (23.1%); 21,000 Ukrainians; 15,000 Armenians; 10,000 Nogayans; 6,000 Tartars and other nationalities.

In 1992-1994, as a result of a determined policy of forcing out the representatives of the non-title nation and the flight of the Chechen intellectuals to other entities of the Russian Federation about 250,000 persons left Chechnya. Out of this number 83,400 inhabitants (in 1992: 21,588; 1993: 39,823; 1994: 22,008) were officially registered as internally displaced persons.

In 1995-1996, 53,700 more persons were registered as internally displaced (in 1995: 33,769; 1996: 19,922). In the consecutive years the outflow from Chechnya continued. 32,849 inhabitants were registered as internally displaced persons (in 1997: 15,160; 1998: 13,007; in the first half of 1999: 4,682). The actual number of those who have fled Chechnya was much higher since not all of them were registered at their new place of residence.

The Chechen population of Chechnya as of September 1999 was about 650,000 persons but for social, economic and other reasons about 50% of the Chechen inhabitants were practically permanently residing beyond the Republic's territory i.e. under 350,000 Chechens were actually living in the Chechen Republic.

The Chechen "diaspora" in other regions of Russia reaches today 500,000 persons, including up to 250,000 in Moscow. According to some estimates, the Russian population in Chechnya accounts now for no more than 20,000 persons i.e. has reduced 10 times as compared to 1991.

4. The prime cause of the Chechen tragedy was the seizure of power by the illegal regime of D. Dudaev. As noted in the decision of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation of 31 July 1995, an exceptional situation had developed in the territory of the Chechen Republic which is a constituent entity of the Russian Federation: "the validity of the Russian Federation's Constitution and federal laws was denied, the system of legitimate authorities was destroyed, regular illegal armed groups equipped with modern arms were created, massive violations of human rights and freedoms took place".

D. Dudaev brought together and headed most extremist, nationalist groupings consisting inter alia of criminal elements. In realizing his criminal plan in August 1991 he seized the premises of the republican TV Center in Grozny, as well as those of the Supreme Soviet and the Council of Ministers of the Chechen-Ingush Republic. On September 6, 1991, the supporters of D. Dudaev burst into the House of Political Education in Grozny, where a session of the Supreme Soviet of the Republic was held, in order to terminate its activities; they attacked the legally elected Chairman of the Supreme Soviet D. Zavgayev and beat him.

Desirous to make his coming to power look legitimate, on October 27, 1991, D. Dudaev in violation of Articles 70, 72, 81, 131, 131-1 of the Russian Constitution which was in effect at that time held illegitimate, in the conditions of a coup d'Etat, elections of the President and the Supreme Soviet of the so-called Chechen Republic of Itchkeria. He continued the policy of territorial and economic alienation of the Chechen Republic from the Russian Federation by refusing to sign the Treaty of Federation and began to undertake unilateral actions aimed at withdrawing the Chechen Republic from the Russian Federation. On D. Dudaev's personal order his supporters wrecked in 1993 the referendum on the status of the Chechen Republic within the Russian Federation.

Inspite of the fact that in accordance with the Russian Constitution the creation of armed forces is an exclusive prerogative of the Russian Federation, D. Dudaev created in Chechnya illegal military units acquiring arms and ammunition for them in a criminal way. In order to illegally keep power D. Dudaev, using such units, organized as of December 1994 armed resistance to the federal forces and personnel of the Ministry of the Interior and the Federal Counterintelligence Service of the Russian Federation who were restoring constitutional order in the Chechen Republic, which resulted in the loss of many human lives.

5. The conclusion on August 31, 1996, of the Khasavyurt agreements and the election in February 1997 of A. Maskhadov President of the Chechen Republic opened up an opportunity to form a legal basis for relations between the Russian Federation and its constituent entity - Chechnya and to restore law and order in the Republic. The federal authorities were ready to seize this opportunity in spite of the doubtful legitimacy of A. Maskhadov who had not been elected in accordance with the Russian laws. However, instead of directing the emerging process of crisis settlement into a constitutional channel the authorities of the Chechen Republic preferred to take a different course. The Republic turned into an enclave managed by terrorists and drug and arms traffickers.

6. The Shariah law was introduced in the Republic (February 1999) by A. Maskhadov's decrees. Consequently, all legislation was to be based on the Koran and Shariah norms, which contradicts inter alia the Khasavyurt agreements that contain a provision on "protecting without reservation the human and citizens' rights and freedoms without any discrimination on national, religious, residence or other grounds, and suppressing acts of violence against political opponents, guided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1949 and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966".

As is known, on May 16, 1996, the President of the Russian Federation issued a decree introducing a moratorium on the execution of death sentences and since then no death sentence has been executed in Russia. Moreover, by its decision of February 2, 1999, the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation actually suspended the delivery of death sentences in Russia. On August 6, 1999, the Government of the Russian Federation submitted to the State Duma of the Federal Assembly for ratification the Protocol No. 6 to the European Convention on Human Rights concerning the abolition of the death penalty.

In the context of such efforts the introduction by the authorities of the Chechen Republic of capital punishment on the basis of Shariah was perceived as a challenge to the whole constitutional and legal system of the Russian Federation. Public executions on the order of Shariah's courts have caused indignation and revolt among the Russian public.

The Shariah norms are reverting modern society to the system of barbaric penalties such as mutilation by cutting fingers and limbs even for minor crimes, which grossly violates not only the European Convention on Human Rights but also the European Convention on the Prevention of Torture and Degrading Treatment. I would like to recall that these "innovations" were extremely negatively taken by the reputable international organizations.

7. Lord Russel-Johnston, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, after signing by A. Maskhadov the decrees aimed at introducing in this Republic a new constitution based on the Shariah norms, on February 4, 1999, urged all the interested sides to ensure that the new legislation of Chechnya is consistent with the norms of the Council of Europe[1]. He also condemned public executions in Chechnya by qualifying them as barbaric acts and flagrant violations of human rights. Having recalled that the Constitution of the Russian Federation and the European Convention on Human Rights do apply to all constituent entities of the Russian Federation the President of the PACE called on A. Maskhadov to stop those barbaric practices[2].

8. The Assistance Group of the OSCE to Chechnya, which was given a mandate inter allia to promote respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and to identify their violations, help foster the development of democratic institutions and processes[3]. In one of its reports the Assistance Group in particular stated that the introduction of the Shariah law contravenes the Charter on the Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, seriously hampers the Group's mandate. The system also leads to human rights violations, especially to discrimination of political rights of non-Muslims[4].

The Group has analyzed the so-called Chechen Criminal Code that is based on the Shariah law to demonstrate that the Code grossly violates the human rights standards of the OSCE[5]. These violations concern both the relations of individuals with the administrative system and the individual rights (crimes against the honour and dignity of the person, public morals or religion). The Group's reports show that the deprivation of rights has become a norm of life in Chechnya. Abductions, murders and provocative attacks on the Russian law enforcement officers and servicemen, on the population of the neighbouring North Caucasian republics have turned Chechnya into a hotbed of crime and terrorism and stirred up anger in Russia at the lawlessness which was ruling in Chechnya. For more details about developments in Chechnya see the reports of the OSCE Assistance Group contained in Annex 1 to this letter.

9. Taking hostages, including foreign nationals, has become a policy of the criminal Chechen authorities. According to the Ministry of the Interior, by the end of 1999 the number of hostages had totaled 506 persons, including 53 women, 18 minors and foreign nationals from 6 countries. In 1991-1999, 46,000 people were abducted and enslaved. 62 gangs numbering about 2,500 bandits were engaged in the "business". The facts about the hostages in Chechnya are contained in Annex 2.

10. Along with crimes against the person the illegal armed groups committed a number of economic crimes including production and circulation of counterfeit US dollars. In the second half of 1998, many attempts to legalize the counterfeit US dollars of the Chechen origin through the financial and banking institutions of the Russian Federation were aborted in the remote areas of Siberia, the Far East and the Volga region. By the fourth quarter of 1999 over one million counterfeit US dollars had been withdrawn from the illegal circulation in the Primorsky territory of the Russian Federation and about 100,000 counterfeit US dollars in the Magadan region (all of them in 100-dollar notes of the 1996 series). Appearance of both Russian rubles and US dollars of "Chechen origin" in 1998?1999 was registered in many constituent entities of the Russian Federation, in particular in the Amur, Ivanovo, Vologda, Moscow and Tyumen regions, the Republic of Karachayevo- Cherkessia and in the city of Moscow.

One could "order" in advance any amount of forged notes in Chechnya. According to available information they were fabricated both in the Chechen Republic (in Argun and Grozny) and outside Russia and were subsequently smuggled in from the territories of neighbouring states.

11. The Chechen territory has also become a criminal zone of industrial production of drugs. So far three heroin producing factories have been identified: in the settlement of Kalinin in the suburbs of Grozny, in the "Energetik" sanatorium in the district of Shali (controlled by Sh. Basayev) and in the "Zorka" children's camp (controlled by international terrorist Khattab). Moreover, Chechnya has become a channel of drug transit from Turkmenistan, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey and Afghanistan to Baltic states, Great Britain, Spain and other European states.

12. By the end of the 90's the Chechen territory virtually became an outpost of religious extremism and terrorism, directed not only against Russia but other countries, too. Numerous documented data, including evidence provided by Russian citizens detained by the federal forces for organizing terrorist acts in the North Caucasus region, unequivocally testify to the existence of a whole network of terrorist training camps - "Khattab's schools" - within the Chechen Republic. They are located in many settlements and their suburbs, in particular in the cities of Grozny and Urus-Martan, in the settlements of Serzhen-Yurt, Avruti and a number of others.

Emissaries of illegal armed groups recruited in the territory of Russia volunteers to undergo training in Khattab's field camps in Chechnya. In 1996-1997, a ramified and well hushed up network of sherpas assisting in transporting Russian citizens to Chechen camps was created. Following a 4-month special training in military camps they returned to their former places of residence and joined those who propagated the so-called "pure Islam'' and Jihad against infidels as well as recruiters and sherpas for Chechen terrorist training centers. In 1998-1999, an unprecedented intensification of these efforts was registered. It has been proved that some international terrorists, including Georgian citizen Nugzar Chukhua, accomplice to an attempt on E. Shevardnadze, President of Georgia, in February 1998, was also trained in 1997 in Khattab's camp in Chechnya.

13. On August 1, 1999, illegal armed groups led by Sh. Basayev and Khattab raised an armed revolt against the legal government in Dagestan, a neighbouring constituent entity of the Russian Federation.

On August 10, 1999, the so-called "Islamic Shura" convened at the initiative of the above-mentioned persons in the Botlih district declared the secession of Dagestan from Russia and beginning of a holy war against "invaders". The "Shura" also adopted an appeal to "Islamic Chechen state and people" calling for support to the Muslims of Dagestan.

Sh. Basayev became an official head of the "armed forces of the Islamic Shura". He assumed the responsibilities of a "military Amir of the joint forces of Dagestan mojaheddins until a complete expulsion of Kaffirs (infidels) from the sacred land of Dagestan". The mutiny of Chechen terrorists was suppressed by vigorous actions of federal forces with the support of local residents, who formed a 25-thousand-strong volunteer corps, and the authorities of Dagestan. The people of Dagestan clearly confirmed their intention to live within the Russian Federation. They rejected the attempts of extremists using Islamic slogans as a cover but, in the final analysis, violating the fundamentals of this religion to impose their will and rule on Dagestan.

14. The illegal armed criminal forces that took power in the Chechen Republic organized and carried out acts of terrorism in other constituent entities of the Russian Federation. The latest acts of terrorism resulting in mass human casualties (over 1,500) were the explosions of apartment houses in the autumn of 1999 in Moscow, Volgodonsk and Buinaksk. The facts established by the criminal proceedings instituted in connection with those explosions testify to the involvement of "field commanders" of the illegal armed groups in the territory of the Chechen Republic, primarily Basayev, Raduyev, Khattab (the Interpol issued a warrant for their arrest).

During the investigation, the organizers and direct perpetrators of the said acts of terrorism - A. Gochiyayev, D. Saitakov, and others -were established and put on the "wanted" list, including the international one (appropriate warrants were issued by the Interpol). It was found out that they had been recruited by an emissary of Khattab at whose military camps they underwent special sabotage and combat training in the territory of Chechnya after which they took part in combat actions against the federal forces. Having executed the acts of terrorism their principal organizers and perpetrators entered the Chechen Republic using forged documents.

15. During the whole period since the signing of the said Khasavyurt Agreements the federal authorities patiently worked for its implementation, looked for every opportunity to restore law and order in the Chechen Republic by peaceful means. In 1997, President of the Russian Federation Boris Yeltsin met with A. Maskhadov in Moscow. In 1998, the then head of the Russian government Yevgueny Primakov met with him in Vladikavkaz. A. Maskhadov was repeatedly invited to dissociate himself from criminal structures and terrorist elements, to take steps to stop their illegal activities. But he was unwilling to do so. The situation in Chechnya continued to deteriorate.

16. The antiterrorist operation of the federal forces in the Chechen Republic began immediately after the attack by illegal armed groups on the neighbouring constituent entity of the Russian Federation ? the Republic of Dagestan, and acts of terrorism in Moscow and a number of other Russian cities. The decision to conduct the operation was taken under the real threat to the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation, to the lives and safety of many of its citizens. It is in full conformity with the Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security adopted by the 1994 OSCE summit in Budapest. Paragraph 6 of this document directly states that the participating states "will take appropriate measures to prevent and combat terrorism in all its forms", while paragraph 25 reads as follows: "the participating states will not tolerate or support forces that are not accountable to or controlled by their constitutionally established authorities". In settlement of the ongoing crisis in the Chechen Republic, the Russian Federation proceeds from the assumption that the stage of an armed fight with members of the Chechen terrorist groups, with whom a rule-of-law state can have no talks whatsoever except about their voluntary surrender to be tried in court, should be passed at a minimum cost. Criminals are given strictly individual treatment in accordance with the current legislation of Russia.

On December 13, 1999, the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation adopted a Resolution on Amnesty for persons who committed socially dangerous acts in the course of the antiterrorist operation in the North Caucasus (see Annex 3 for excerpts from the Resolution). Moreover, the State Duma further adopted a resolution on the amnesty application. It provides that the Resolution on Amnesty applies to persons who committed the acts specified therein in Chechnya, Ingushetia, North Ossetia – Alania, Dagestan, and Stavropol territory between August 1, 1999, to the effective date of the Resolution on Amnesty, and who ceased armed resistance and surrendered weapons and military equipment by midnight February 1, 2000.

The so-called decree of "amnesty" signed by A. Maskhadov could be cited for comparison. The decree is intended against residents of the Chechen Republic involved in the restoration of constitutional order. The Chechens suspected of cooperating with the lawful authorities of the Russian Federation are sentenced to death without limitations. Among those slated for prosecution is the Mufti of Chechnya, A. Kadyrov, whom A. Maskhadov branded a "No.1 enemy to be executed" after he spoke out against the meaningless confrontation with the federal authorities. This outrageous order aroused deep indignation among all Muslims of the Russian Federation. As a result of the antiterrorist operation, a considerable part of the territory of Chechnya (over 80%) was by now cleared of bandit groups. The military stage of the operation is drawing to a close to be followed by political settlement on the basis of strict respect for the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

17. The federal troops in Chechnya are not confronted by separate terrorist groups but by a well armed and trained army of some 25,000 men (including up to 2,000 foreign mercenaries). They were equipped with 28 battle tanks, 61 armored personnel carriers and armored infantry vehicles, 14 anti-aircraft guns, a battery of Grad multiple launch rocket systems, twenty 152-mm guns and 120-mm mortars, a considerable number of 82 mm mortars, hand-held anti-tank grenade launchers, anti-tank missiles, man-portable air defense systems, various types of small arms, including of large caliber, and also satellite communication systems. It is quite evident that the classic secret service methods could not be used to conduct a special operation against such a large number of armed fighters. The situation required a large-scale police operation with the involvement of a military contingent.

The objective of the antiterrorist operation in Chechnya is not aimed against civilian population; its purpose is to protect the innocent lives from terrorist atrocities. The force applied in the course of the operation is commensurate with the scale of the threat. The units engaged have been ordered to act in a sparing way in human settlements based on the purpose of protecting civilian population, to deliver strikes solely against armed militants, their positions, depots and strongholds, and to avoid damage to civilian population and facilities. The federal forces are undertaking all necessary measures to liberate human settlements without assaults or other massive actions, with no casualties or destructions and on the basis of agreements with population representatives. That is how four out of five cities and over half of 122 human settlements were liberated, including Gudermes and Achkhoi-Martan. Whenever militant formations put up active resistance, special security corridors are set up for the civilian population to leave the area of probable clashes. All civilians who have fled the hostility areas are granted access to safe districts, temporary accommodation, health care and food.

Personnel of the federal forces get systematic legal training aimed at developing humane attitude towards the civilian population without distinction as to nationality or religious beliefs. The military prosecutor's office systematically supervises the observance of law and order. Since the beginning of the antiterrorist operation 129 criminal cases have been initiated within the federal troops.

There are no "filtration camps" in the region. Displaced persons are only checked to identify terrorists and find weapons while passing through the check-points. These are the necessary measures to ensure security within reasonable sufficiency. Naturally, in conducting a military operation of such a scale casualties among the civilian population cannot be fully avoided. This, incidentally, is the goal of the militants' tactics who deploy heavy armaments within human settlements, quite often near kindergartens, schools and hospitals. The actual civilian causalities are, nevertheless, not massive. All possible measures are taken to reduce them to a minimum. In difficult cases of fighting within human settlements the federal troops display patience and restraint, and act to gradually dislodge the bandits. This is one of the reasons why the antiterrorist operation in Chechnya has been taking so long.

The illegal armed groups are waging a large-scale disinformation campaign among the public opinion as to the nature of their activities, actions of the Russian troops, casualties and destruction. These groups have established special structures to produce and distribute faked video and audio information and other materials. They have used over 100 Internet sites provided by international terrorist and extremist organizations.

18. As a result of the antiterrorist activities a mass exodus from the Chechen Republic began in mid-September 1999. (For more information about the migration situation see Annex 4.) As of December 20, 1999, 267,600 people from the Chechen Republic were registered under Form No. 7 ("Registration of families arriving in emergency situation") by the migration services of the Republic of Dagestan, the Republic of Ingushetia, the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania and the Stavropol territory of the Russian Federation, including 251,200 people in the Republic of Ingushetia; 6,500 in the Republic of Dagestan; 5,700 in the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania; 3,900 in the Stavropol territory; and 4,500 in Georgia. 760 of them were sent to the temporary accommodation centers of the FMS of Russia, and 37,700 left for other regions of Russia to their relatives and friends for permanent or temporary stay.

Despite the difficult humanitarian situation there is no humanitarian catastrophe in the region, which was confirmed by a number of international delegations that had visited the region as well as by Ms. S. Ogata, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. To support the everyday life of people who left the Chechen Republic and were settled in the territory of the Republic of Ingushetia the FMS of Russia supplied: 440 tons of foodstuffs; 120 tents; more than 8,800 blankets; more than 9,400 mattresses; more than 7,600 pillows; more than 13,400 bed-clothes sets; 300 ovens; more than 1,800 kitchen sets; 3 tons of medical items; 698 beds; more that 1,7 tons of sanitary and hygienic materials. Work is being done on a permanent basis to deliver foodstuffs (for more information on delivery and distribution of humanitarian aid in the region see Annexes 5 and 6). To implement activities of reception, registration, accommodation and provision of food for citizens who left the Chechen Republic the Government of the Russian Federation decreed to allocate 272 million rubles from its Reserve Fund.

Since October 4, 1999, all those wishing to go (at the expense of the federal budget) to other constituent entities of the Russian Federation for permanent or temporary stay receive prepaid tickets for travel to the place of destination they specify themselves. Two additional passenger trains leave Nazran every day. Carriages for temporary accommodation of citizens leaving for other constituent entities of the Russian Federation were provided at Mineralniye Vody, Mozdok and Nazran railway stations where missions of territorial organs of migration services were opened. They issue travel documents, organize meals and forwarding for departing persons.

Since December 12, 1999, the Office of the FMS of Russia in the Chechen Republic organized the registration of citizens who left the places of their permanent residence in the Chechen Republic. Under Form No 7 there were registered 5,382 people, including 1,811 in the Naur area; 1,950 in the Nadterechny area; 915 in the village of Sernovodsk; 706 in the village of Asinovskaya. A total of 80% of them came from Grozny. Preparations for reception of Russian citizens coming back to the Chechen Republic (as of now they already account for more than 40,000) are underway. Personnel for temporary residence settlements and foodstuffs are being provided in the villages of Znamenskoye, Sernovodsk and Asinovskaya.

The system of humanitarian aid distribution is functioning within a well organized mechanism. To minimize possible losses its delivery is under strict control along the whole chain from a donor to a beneficiary. The humanitarian component of the operation is coordinated by the Ministry for Emergencies and the Federal Migration Service of Russia.

19. In the liberated areas of the Chechen Republic measures to ensure law and order are taken immediately. In November 1999, a provisional acting Prosecutor of the Chechen Republic was appointed and development of the work of prosecution bodies was ensured. Development of local interior divisions and investigation bodies of the Ministry of Interior of Russia involving local officers of previously operating Interior Ministry bodies is at full swing. Once the personnel are selected, heads of district administrations and settlements are appointed forthwith from among local residents.

20. Upon decision by the Government of Russia, more than 102 million rubles of budget appropriations have been allocated for the restoration of the social and economic infrastructure of the Chechen Republic within its share in the 1999 fiscal year. The sum is distributed in the following way: payment of government benefits to citizens with children - 11,2 million rubles; salaries to education personnel - 10 million rubles, to culture workers - 2,8 million rubles, to health personnel - 4,1 million rubles; procurement of medicines - 4,1 million rubles, medical equipment - 26 million rubles; purchase of ambulances - 2 million rubles; maintenance of health care facilities - 30 million rubles. 12 million rubles are earmarked to executive authorities of the Chechen Republic and district administration. In 2000, the Government of the Russian Federation has allocated 3 billion rubles for restoration of Chechnya.

21. Peaceful life is restored in the Chechen settlements liberated from bandits. Schools are opening again for the first time over the last three years (46 schools out of 67 are already being attended). Some enterprises have started to operate. Heat supply is being restored. The newspaper "Free Chechnya" is published today. On the whole, as of December 15, 1999, power supply has been provided to 70 out of 100 settlements liberated by the Federal troops, and gas supply - to 67. The engineer units of the federal troops have started clearing mine fields and restoring oil pipeline in the settlement of Tolstoy-Yurt of the Republic's Grozny (rural) district. The Ministry of Railways of Russia has started regular cargo traffic to the Gudermes railway station.

22. In alleviating the humanitarian situation in the Northern Caucasus the Russian side demonstrates maximum openness for dialogue with international organizations. Nine international delegations visited the region from October to December, 1999, including the UN High Commissioner for Refugees S. Ogata, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe A. Hill-Robles, the OSCE Chairman-in-Office K. Vollebaek. At present, the International Red Cross Committee, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies together with the Russian Red Cross Society are implementing programs of humanitarian and medical assistance to internally displaced persons in the North Caucasus region. The International Red Cross Movement has requested for these purposes from the governments and donor organizations 18 million Swiss francs (about 12 million US dollars). In Ingushetia, the ICRC helped equip five hospitals. It also finances the daily provision of bread to 30,000 internally displaced persons and cooking of several thousand hot meals. Similar assistance is provided to 30,000 IDPs in Chechnya and 20,000 IDPs in the neighbouring constituent entities of the Russian Federation.

The European Bureau of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is, in general, satisfied with the progress of the UN humanitarian operation in the North Caucasus and the level of cooperation with the Russian authorities. The 19th UNHCR convoy with humanitarian assistance for displaced persons was dispatched to Nazran on December 28, 1999. As of December 20, 1999, the UNHCR received from the donor community $ 7.9 million, out of $ 8.5 million requested in November 1999 under an urgent appeal for the North Caucasus (about $ 4.5 million have already been spent). Russia has repeatedly confirmed and confirms once again its willingness to ensure conditions needed for the work of international organizations providing humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons. Its safe delivery and distribution will be arranged through federal channels existing in Russia with proper provision for the safety of international monitoring personnel.

23. The large-scale antiterrorist part of the operation of the federal forces will be completed in the nearest future. After that the antiterrorist activities will proceed in a regular terrorism control fashion accepted all over the world. The next step will be the "passportization" of the population of the Republic, including returnees. Then we plan to hold elections, in a peaceful and democratic atmosphere, to replace the appointed authorities with elected ones. The elections will be followed by talks with the newly elected government of Chechnya on the status of the Republic within the Russian Federation. That will be the final stage of the peace process. While in the process of post-conflict rehabilitation and restoration of democratic institutions and human rights in the Chechen Republic, Russia will be open for cooperation with all competent international organizations, including, first of all, the UN, OSCE and the Council of Europe.

24. The antiterrorist operation is conducted in full compliance with international obligations of Russia. Article 15 of the European Convention on Human Rights provides for the possibility of derogation by a state from its obligations under the Convention "in time of war or other public emergency threatening the life of the nation". Article 15 of the Convention stipulates that its provisions cannot be invoked with a view to derogating from Article 2 which guarantees the right to life, "except in respect of deaths resulting from lawful acts of war". In accordance with Article 2 of the Convention, deprivation of life is not regarded as inflicted in contravention of that Article "when it results from the use of force which is no more than absolutely necessary", including "in defense of any person from unlawful violence" and "in action lawfully taken for the purpose of quelling a riot or insurrection".

The actions of the Russian authorities during the antiterrorist operation in Chechnya are based on Russian legislation. The Federal Law on Defense of 1996 envisages that defense means a "system of political, economic, military, social, legal and other measures to prepare for armed protection and the armed protection of the Russian Federation as well as the integrity and inviolability of its territory" and determines powers of state authorities in case of need to use the armed forces. The Federal Law on Combating Terrorism of 1998 establishes a detailed list of measures which authorities can take to suppress terrorist activities.

The Decision of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation of July 31, 1995, points out that the Constitution of Russia "does not presuppose that in extraordinary situations state integrity and the constitutional order can be ensured exclusively through the declaration of state of emergency or imposition of martial law". The same Decision of the Constitutional Court states that the "international treaties to which the Russian Federation is a party and which, in accordance with Article 15, 4 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, are an integral part of its legal system also proceed from the possibility of using the Armed Forces for protection of the national unity and territorial integrity of the state".

In terms of its basic provisions, the Decision of the Constitutional Court is also applicable to the current developments in the Chechen Republic. Measures taken by the federal authorities in conducting the antiterrorist operation in Chechnya are fully compatible not only with the ECHR but also with other obligations of the Russian Federation under international law including international humanitarian law.

National accord in Russian society on the fundamental aspects of the Chechen problem settlement requires the federal authorities to eliminate, at last, the hotbed of terror and lawlessness in the Chechen Republic and the underlying causes. The power component of the antiterrorist operation by the armed forces in the Chechen Republic is applied lawfully under an efficient state and civil control in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, laws and regulations of the Russian Federation and in compliance with Russia's international legal obligations. The promotion of the rights and freedoms embodied in the Constitution of the Russian Federation and ECHR for the Russian citizens throughout the country, including the Chechen Republic, is one of the means to achieve the final objective – an opportunity for everyone to enjoy the benefits and achievements of modern society, to be a citizen of a really democratic rule-of-law state.

Annex 1

to the Reply by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
Extracts from the reports by the OSCE Assistance Group in Chechnya for 1999

7 January 1999, SEC.FR/10/99
"... On Friday, December 25, the beheaded bodies of four foreign hostages: Darren Hichkey, Rudolph Petschi and Peter Kennedy from Britain and one New Zealander - Stan Shaw (kidnapped in Grozny, on October 3, this year) were found in Chernorechye forest in the suburb of Grozny. Next day the Chechen leadership, flying to avoid direct contacts with Federal authorities, suggested the OSCE AG to Chechnya to play a mediatory role in its communication with the British Embassy in Moscow, as well as to put all responsibilities for the remains' transportation on the AG Members. But, due to the fact of our absence in the area of application, Chechen authorities took a decision to deliver the bodies to Baku. A cavalcade with four coffins left Grozny on December 28, in the afternoon. Next day the remains were delivered to the United Kingdom by the British Airways flight..."

19 Feb 1999, SEC.FR/119/99
"...President Aslan Maskhadov announced in the evening of February 3, the "full implementation of the Shariah rule in Chechnya". From the practical point of view this step implies the abolition of the secular Constitution, dissolution of the Parliament, and the creation of an alternative legislative body - "Shura "- with enlarged competencies. The rule of Islamic law - Shariah - was to be extended to all the spheres of the social and political life. "...Several terrorist attacks on the neighboring regions were reported in January. Their number especially increased after the end of the holy month of Ramadan. The criminals have mainly two targets: killing of the Ministry of Interior troops and kidnappings, but, nevertheless, - murders of respected members of the community as well as thefts of agricultural property often took place.

Ingushetia and Dagestan are known as places were most of the terrorist attacks are being carried out. Mobile patrols as well as permanent checkpoints of the Federal Ministry of Interior seem to be the preferred targets of the criminals. Five incidents of this type were reported in January, with 5 people killed and several injured. While these criminal acts seem to be politically motivated, kidnappings and killings of Dagestani, Ingush and Chechen businessmen or of their relatives are believed to have first of all an economic background. Either ransom is demanded for the abducted or the kidnapped is killed for interfering with the criminal's shadow economic interests. Attacks on North-bordering Stavropol Kray have brought much criticism to the local and Federal authorities- Local inhabitants blame them for doing virtually nothing to stop the criminals, who are always escaping beyond the Chechen border. A demonstration took place in the Kursky district after the 14 years-old son of a local successful businessman was kidnapped in the early evening of January 8..."

8 March 1999, SEC.FR/186/99
"...On Friday, March 5, at about 15.45, the representative of the Russian Ministry of Interior, Major General Ghennadiy Shpigun was kidnapped in Grozny. Gen. Shpigun was abducted from a scheduled Grozny-Moscow flight, when the plane was preparing for take-off. According to reports from Grozny, a group of 5 or 6 passengers, sitting in the back part of the cabin, and who turned out to be carrying guns, forced the crew to stop the plane and took Gen. Shpigun away.

1 August 1999, SEC.FR/654/99
"...Since the beginning of 1999 illegal militant groups conducted 73 armed raids against Russian security forces deployed on the border with Chechnya. 56 Russian servicemen were killed and 85 wounded. Tens or even more than one hundred of Russian soldiers were abducted and hold captive in Chechnya. During the last 10 days there were more than twenty terrorist attacks by the militants on Russian servicemen on duty at the Chechen border with the Stavropol territory in which allegedly 11 servicemen and civilians were killed and 9 wounded. The situation on the Chechen-Dagestani border also remains tense..."

"...What regards to the developments on July 23, Chechen militants abducted 9 out of 30 members of an Ingush musical theater who arrived in Urus-Martan to ask for the release of two minor hostages captured earlier in June in Nazran, the former capital of Ingushetia. Two days later, on July 25 a group of masked perpetrators abducted an Orthodox priest, Rev. Zakhariy, the acting church-warden of the Grozny parish Yakov Ryashin and a believer strait from the St. Archangel Michael church in Grozny..."

"... According to the Bishop of Baku and the Caspian Region Alexander, eight orthodox priests have been banned by the criminal actions of criminals in Chechnya and adjoining territories. It is still unknown what happened to two of them (Rev. Anatoly Chistousov and Rev. Pyotr Sukhonosov). At the moment there are no Orthodox priests left in Chechnya..."

18 May 1999, SEC.FR/442/99
"...On May 14 evening an expatriate staff member of the ICRC Regional Office in Nalchik (Kabardino-Balkaria), Geraldo-Cruz Ribero from New Zealand, was abducted by unknown perpetrators on his way from the office to his residence. The ICRC authorities in Geneva announced that because of this criminal act, ICRC activities in the North Caucasus will be suspended. All locally employed staff are to be on a two week stand-by. As reported from Grozny, no supplies are to be expected in the nearest future. As might be recalled, the ICRC withdrew from Chechnya after the murder of its six medical workers in Novye Atagi in December 1996..."

18 June 1999, SEC.FR/524/99/Corr.1*
"... According to sources in the RF Ministry of the Interior, during the first half of June another seventeen hostages were released from Chechen captivity. 12 of them were servicemen kidnapped in January and April 1999. One of the civilians, Ilya Lysakov, deputy head of the Rostov administration had been kidnapped on March 18, 1998..."

"... In AG's opinion, the above mentioned frequent attacks on Russian and Dagestan outposts which took place since May 28 undoubtedly seem to have been carefully planned as an obvious provocation, probably, by field commanders uncontrolled by the Chechen authorities. Perhaps, the perpetrators' aim was to draw Russia's security forces into intervention onto Chechen territory in order to present the international community with a fait acompli of a new aggression against Chechnya..."

24 June 1999, SEC.FR/542/99
"...On June 19 the AG learnt from its locally hired employees in Grozny about the abduction of the chairman of the Chechen Red Cross and Red Crescent Society, Ruslan Isayev the same day in the morning. At first it was not clear if he was kidnapped by criminals or arrested by Chechen law enforcement agencies because of procedural problems regarding the registration of the Chechen Red Cross and Red Crescent Society. It is known that the Chechen Red Cross and Red Crescent Society has been repeatedly harassed by the so called Chechen Red Crescent Society (organization not recognized by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescents Societies), and also by certain law enforcement structures of Chechnya..."

24 June 1999, PC.FR/18/99
"... The AG fulfils to a certain degree the function of a human rights watch; advising and urging Chechen authorities to adhere to internationally recognized standards in the field of human rights. Recent developments have, however, not been encouraging. The introduction of Sharia rule contradicts the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, and seriously hampers the fulfilment of the AG's mandate to "support the creation of mechanisms guaranteeing the rule of law...". This system also leads to violation of human rights, especially to discrimination of the political rights of non-Muslims..."

5 July 1999, SEC.FR/585/99
"...On Saturday, July 3, 1999, at 2.45 a.m. local time the Forensic laboratory in Grozny was attacked by armed bandits. Besides light weapons the bandits used also explosives, machine-guns and grenade-launchers to conquer the security guards. According to our local staff, the fight was rather intense and extensive. Two of the Laboratory's security guards were heavily injured, some casualties were reported also on the side of the intruders. In result two Russian citizens - specialists temporarily dispatched to Grozny from the Forensic laboratory in Rostov - were abducted and taken for an unknown destination..."

5 July 1999, SEC.FR/575/99
"...On June 27, 28 and 29 new major hostage taking incidents took place in Dagestan and Ingushetia near the administrative border with Chechnya. Chechen terrorists ambushed three majors and a soldier driver heading for Vladikavkaz..."

5 July 1999, SEC.FR/576/99
"... On June 25, the day of RF Prime Minister's arrival in Makchachkala, the capital of Dagestan, Russian security forces announced the release of Lena Meshcheryakova, a four year-old girl who for 8 months was held captive in Chechnya. Bruises on the undernourished body of the child bore evidence of the brutality of her captors.

16 July 1999, SEC.FR/608/99
"... The North Caucasus regional department for combating organized crime arrested several groups involved in abductions of people, which has become a widespread practice and is still considered to be one of the most profitable businesses. Local gangs have worked out a system of kidnapping and getting ransom for hostages as well as to create special routes to convey hostages to Chechnya which remains the main hostage-taking center..."

"... President Maskkadov's press secretary Mayerbek Vachagayev reacted aggressively to Rushailo's order in saying that in response to each preventive strike the Chechen side will conduct tens of her own blows on Russia's territory. He also warned that the Chechen president might at last give the field commanders "free hand" in executing "Russian generals and members of their families who are on the list of 273 war criminals..."

19 August 1999, SEC.FR/681/99
"...On August 15 the AG was informed by the Ambassador of Poland in Moscow that since August 12 two Polish citizens: Prof. Dr. Zofia Fischer-Malanowska, director of the international Center of Ecology at the Polish Academy of Sciences: and her deputy Prof Ewa Marchwinska-Wyrwal were missing in Dagestan since 12 August. Two Dagestani scientists were missing too. On 16 August Russian media announced the above mentioned were kidnapped for ransom..."

6 September 1999, SEC.FR/715/99
"...Though kidnappings are still rampant in the North Caucasus, Russian and foreign media were continuing to dispatch reporters to the conflict zone in Dagestan. However, there were casualties like the Itar-Tass photo correspondent Vladimir Yatsina (51) who had been abducted supposedly in Nazran, Ingushetia, and brought to Chechnya. On 19 August the abductors contacted Yatsina's family demanding a ransom of two-million-dollars for his release. The fate of two Polish women-scientists abducted in Dagestan two weeks ago is still unknown among fears that they might have been taken to Chechnya..."

13 September 1999, SEC.FR/734/99
Background Report: Human Rights Violations in the Chechen Criminal Code
"... III. The Criminal Code of the Chechen Republic
Today, the Chechen Republic is the only territory in the OSCE area. where the "Sharia-law" (so called by the Chechen authorities) is the base for a criminal code. Although the Chechen Republic is part of the Russian Federation, the Russian civil and criminal codes in practice are not in force [in Chchnya] anymore. However, the new Chechen Criminal Code is in severe conflict with the OSCE's human rights standards. The human rights violation of the Chechen Criminal Code can be divided into two parts: one part affects basic human rights of an individual in relation to the administrative system (crimes against the state, violation of public security). The other part affects individual rights concerning his interaction with other individuals in the community (crimes concerning the honor, reputation and social morality, crimes concerning the religion). The following is a non-official translation by the OSCE AG of those parts of the Chechen criminal code which violate OSCE Human Rights Commitments most obviously..."

"... § 8
Violation of Public Security
Art. 69 "Any individual, violating public security or taking any measures with the aim to violate public security or which might lead to the violation of public security or public order (... ), will be imprisoned up to one month or will be beaten twenty times with a stick."

§ 13
Crimes concerning the religion
Art. 125 (2) "An individual who is guilty of having committed a crime as being a confirmed apostate, will be offered to repent, and therefore the Court will offer a certain period. In case, the delinquent will not return to Islam, but insists on his position, a penalty will be imposed in form of the death penalty"

§15

Crimes concerning honor, reputation and social morality
(145) 1. "Guilty in committing adultery is regarded: a) Any male, engaged in a sexual intercourse with any woman, who is not bound by legal marriage to her.
b) Any female, who agrees to sexual intercourse with a man, with whom she is not bound by legal marriage. (....)
Penalty for adultery

(146) 1. The delinquent who committed adultery will be imposed on a punishment in form of:
a) Death penalty executed by beating with stones, in case he was married
b) Beating him a hundred times, in case he was not married

2. In addition to the punishment in form of beating, which is imposed on the non-married male, a punishment in form of banishment up to one year is possible

7 December 1999, SEC.FR/906/99
"...The current number of hostages in Chechnya is varying between 700 and 1,500 people, including 56 foreigners. A spokesman of the Russian Ministry of the Interior, Nikolai Morozov, stressed that instances of kidnapping have fallen following the federal forces taking control of a considerable part of Chechen territory. At present - he said - Chechen militants are attempting to involve the 500,000 strong Chechen Diaspora in Russia in their criminal activities, including demands for ransom for kidnapped people..."

Annex 2

to the Reply by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

As of December 1, 1999
Several Facts Concerning Hostages

On June 14, 1995, a group of armed militants led by Shamil Basaev seized Budyonnovsk in the Stavropol territory. Having turned the town's hospital into a stronghold the bandits held 1500 people as hostages, demanding withdrawal of the Russian troops from Chechnya. As a result of the bandit action in Budyonnovsk 130 civilians, 18 militiamen, 18 servicemen were killed, more than 400 people were wounded.

On December 14, 1995, 36 construction workers from the Stavropol territory were taken hostage in the Chechen village of Achkhoi-Martan. Some of them were freed nine months later.

On April 27, 1996, two employees of the Grozny mission of the "Medecins sans frontií¨res" international organization were kidnapped in a Grozny suburb. The kidnappers demanded a ransom of 200 000 US dollars. The hostages were freed on May 10, 1996.

On July 27, 1996, the French national Frederick Malardo and the English national Michael Penrose - employees of the international humanitarian organization "Campaign against hunger", were kidnapped in Grozny. They were freed on August 22.

On September 28, 1996, three employees of the Italian humanitarian organization "Intersos" were taken hostage in Chechnya. They were freed on November 29.

On January 19, 1997, Roman Perevezentsev and Vladislav Tibelius - journalists of the Public Russian Television (ORT) were kidnapped in Chechnya. After a long search and negotiations the journalists were freed on February 18.

On February 23, 1997, Mauro Galligani - the Italian journalist of the "Panorama" weekly was kidnapped in Grozny. The kidnappers demanded 1 mln US dollars for his release. He was freed without ransom on April 12.

On March 4, 1997, three employees of the Radio Russia: correspondents Yuri Arkhipov and Nikolai Mamulashvili and space communication engineer Lev Zeltsin; as well as the Itar-Tass correspondent Hikolai Zagnoiko were kidnapped in Grozny. They were freed on the night of June 5.

On May 10, 1997, the NTV film crew comprising the special correspondent Elena Masyuk, operator Ilya Mordyukov and sound engineer Dmitry Olchev, was kidnapped in Chechnya, in the vicinity of the village of Samashki. They were freed on August 18.

On the night of July 2, 1997, the British nationals - Camila Carr and John James, were kidnapped in Grozny. They were freed on September 20.

On August 2, 1997, four French nationals, employees of the humanitarian organization "Equilibre", were kidnapped in Dagestan and taken to the territory of Chechnya. They were freed on November 17.

On the night of October 23, 1998, two Hungarian nationals Dunaisky Gabor and Olach Ishtvan, employees of the "Churches in Joint Action" international organization, were taken hostage in Grozny. They were freed on July 25.

On January 8, 1998, the Swedish couple Brulin Daniel and Paulina were forcibly taken from Makhachkala to Chechnya. They were freed on June 24.

On January 29, 1998, the French national Vincent Kochetel, UNHCR representative, was kidnapped in the city of Vladikavkaz. He was freed on December 12.

On May 1, 1998, Valentin Vlasov, Russian President's plenipotentiary representative in Chechnya, was kidnapped in the vicinity of the Chechen village of Assinovskaya. He was freed on November 13.

On October 3, 1998, the New Zealand national Stanley Shaw and British nationals Peter Kennedy, Darren Hichkey and Rudolf Petschi, Grange Telecom employees, were kidnapped in Grozny. On the night of October 8 they were brutally murdered.

On March 5, 1999, Gennady Shpigun, Major General of the Militia and Russian Ministry of Interior's plenipotentiary representative in the Chechen Republic, was kidnapped in the airport of Grozny. On March 17, the kidnappers demanded an unprecedented ransom of 15 mln US dollars. The general is still held in the territory of Chechnya.

On March 27, 1999, the priest of the St. Nicholas Church Pyotr Markov was kidnapped in the Chechen village of Assinovskaya. He was freed in May.

On March 30, 1999, the Itar-Tass correspondent Said Isaev, the only staff journalist of the Russian media who works in Chechnya on a permanent basis, was kidnapped in Grozny. He was freed on June 19.

On July 19, 1999, the Itar-Tass photographer Vladimir Yatsina disappeared en route from Nazran to Chechnya. He was kidnapped and held in Chechnya. A ransom of 2 mln US dollars is demanded.

On October 10, 1999, the Itar-Tass correspondent Said Isaev was kidnapped again, a week later he managed to escape.

At the end of October, 1999, Chechen militants kidnapped the French press photographer Brice Latier.

Annex 3

to the Reply by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

EXTRACTS from the Resolution of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation of December 13, 1999, entitled "On amnesty for persons who committed socially dangerous acts in the course of the antiterrorist operation in the North Caucasus":

"In order to achieve civil peace and accord in the Russian Federation and guided by the principle of humanism, the State Duma, in accordance with Article 103, part 1, para. "e", of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, decides:

1. Not to initiate criminal proceedings in respect of persons who committed socially dangerous acts in the course of the antiterrorist operation in the North Caucasus, gave up armed resistance and voluntarily surrendered arms and military equipment, as well as in respect of those servicemen, law-enforcement officers and officers of the penitentiary system who committed socially dangerous acts in the course of the above operation.

2. To stop criminal investigations and to close cases pending trial in respect of persons mentioned in para.1 of this Resolution.

3. To relieve persons mentioned in para. 1 of this Resolution from serving their sentences.

4. Not to extend paras. 1-3 of this Resolution to:

a) persons who committed acts specified in Articles 105, 111, 126, 131, 162, 205, 206, 226, 244, 277, 281, 294-296, 317, 333, 334 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, as well as servicemen, law-enforcement officers and officers of the penitentiary system who committed crimes, such as theft of firearms, ammunition and explosives and their sale to members of illegal armed formations or stable armed groups ( bands) or other persons who resisted the antiterrorist operation in the North Caucasus;

b) persons who repeatedly committed particularly dangerous crimes;

c) foreign nationals and stateless persons.

5. To stop, on proposal by the Commission on war prisoners, interned and missing persons, attached to the President of the Russian Federation, criminal investigations, irrespective of the nature of the crimes committed, and to close cases pending trial in respect of persons who are to be exchanged for servicemen, law-enforcement officers and citizens held by force in the territory of the Chechen Republic.

6. To relieve persons mentioned in para. 5 of this Resolution from serving their sentences.

7. To clear persons relieved from serving their sentences on the basis of paras. 3 and 6 of this Resolution of criminal records".

According to the Resolution, it comes into force on the date of its official promulgation.

Annex 4

to the Reply by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation As of December 20, 1999

Information on the Migration Situation Related to Developments in the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation and Measures Taken by the Federal Migration Service (FMS) of Russia to Stabilize the Situation

Constituent entitites of the Russian Federation Total number of internally displaced persons registered by the MS 8540 including from the CR 5296Recorded under form No.7 since which:27.09.99, from Referred to TACs of Russia's FMS 0Referred to TSFs of Russia's FMS 0Left for other regions to stay with R&A 842Returned to the CR 0
Republic of Dagestan (persons)854052966583008420
RNO-Alania (persons)165822502575557024101924
Republic of Ingushetia (persons)41688261922512944590324715572
Stavropol territory (persons)114463?329813990244019993
TOTAL (persons)181263?669712676227600377227499

Abbreviations: CR - the Chechen Republic; RNO-Alania - the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania; TAC - a temporary accomodation center of Russia's FMS; TSF - a temporary shelter facility of Russia's FMS; R&A - relatives and acquaintances.


[1] See Press Release CE 70b99 of 4 February 1999.

[2] See Press Release CE 152b99 of 12 March 1999.

[3] PC.DEC/35, 11/04195.

[4] PC.FR/18/99, 24.06.1999.

[5] Background Report: Human Rights Violations in the Chechen Criminal Code, SEC.RF/734/99. 13/09/99.


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