Tuesday, July 13, 2004

 

The Gate of Heaven

An attack in Chechnya on the acting president killed one person and injured three today. During the past two days 24 insurgents and 18 members of the republic's presidential security service have been killed in fighting southeast of Grozny. From CNN.com:
The security force is widely feared in Chechnya, with Chechens and human rights organizations blaming it for abductions and other abuse of civilians.

Rights groups in Moscow said Tuesday that Ingushetia, which borders on Chechnya, was being destabilized by a rising number of abductions, and they accused Russian forces of complicity.

Some observers suggest Ingush authorities are complicit or give tacit approval to the seizures, though Ingush President Murat Zyazikov has blamed them on forces in Chechnya.

Oleg Orlov, of the Memorial rights group, said killings of captives are becoming increasingly common, and he alleged that paramilitaries associated with Russian forces have carried out such murders, sometimes at military posts.

"People are being killed not only in military clashes, but also by kidnappers -- unarmed and without resistance," Orlov said. "From any point of view, this can only be considered a crime."

He said that because Russian prosecutors are doing little to investigate, Moscow is losing the support of residents of Ingushetia. Ninety people were killed last month in an overnight militant assault on police installations in the republic.

"With their own hands, Russian special forces can create a wider base of support for militants in Ingushetia than already exists," Orlov said. "Which is what they've already done in Chechnya."
Faced with the murder of Paul Klebnikov, editor of Forbes Magazine's Russian edition, which has brought attention to the general crackdown on outspoken or independent press in Russia, it's understandable that Vladimir Putin would not be opposed to inciting a flare-up of violence in Chechnya (and now Ingushsetia) to draw away attention and to justify increasing anti-democratic trends in Russia. Look! Over there! Terrorists!

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