02 September 2009, 20:00

Human rights activists: in Northern Caucasus, power agents act more and more like "death squadrons"

Today, the Independent Press Centre in Moscow has hosted a press conference of human rights activists under the motto "Death Squadrons in Northern Caucasus. Summer of 2009". According to Alexander Cherkasov, a member of the Board of the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial", a system of violence has formed in Northern Caucasus, where torture, kidnappings, illegal prisons and extrajudicial executions are integral elements.

Lev Ponomaryov, executive director of the All-Russian Movement "For Human Rights", has noted that the reason of the press conference was in kidnapping of five young men in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan.

Three of the kidnapped guys perished, but two managed to escape - they were witnesses of the crime; and now we can reveal the mechanism of how these "death squadrons" work, believes Mr Ponomaryov, according to whom, peaceful people are killed in Northern Caucasus; in fact, a war is kindled there. This is the topic of the statement of the HRC "Memorial" that has arrived to the "Caucasian Knot". The human rights activist has noted that the policy of Russian authorities in Northern Caucasus is in a deadlock.

Alexander Cherkasov has added that the kidnapping of five young men and subsequent detection of three scorched bodies is a tragic event, but, unfortunately, not a unique one. "In Northern Caucasus 'death squadrons', characteristic for dictatorial regimes, operate for more than 10 years already," he said.

According to his data, if to judge by the number of kidnappings, murders and terror acts, "has rolled three years back."

"As to Ingushetia, there were hopes that with Yunus-Bek Evkurov's taking the power the situation in the republic would change for the better. Indeed, President Evkurov launched a war on the fundamentalist underground and corruption, by keeping in touch with human rights activists. However, on June 22, 2009, an attempt was made on him. Then, Chechen power agencies began working in Ingushetia; and now there are disappearances, murders with imitation of skirmishes too," said Mr Cherkasov.

According to his story, after Evkurov's return to the republic, he will not be able to control the actions of power agents: his Minister of Internal Affairs was dismissed.

Alexander Cherkasov believes that power agencies in the Caucasus had got out of control of the federal centre and doubts that "orders to burn people down and stir up the whole republic are sent from someone at the top." "The problems stem not from the underground groups but from those power agencies, which get more and more criminalized in their actions," he has concluded.

Svetlana Isaeva, chair of the regional public organization "Mothers of Dagestan for Human Rights" has reported that none of the five young men kidnapped in Makhachkala had ever been registered by the ROVD and never faced the court; they just prayed.

She has refuted the information of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) that one of the two survivals in that kidnapping "went to the forest." According to her story, the relatives of the guy said for safety reasons the young men were taken out of Dagestan.

Svetlana Gannushkina, another member of the Board of the HRC "Memorial" and chair of the Committee "Civil Assistance", said that every day human rights activists receive reports that someone was kidnapped, or that someone's body was found. "People come to human rights organizations, but they ask not to give their names. In Dagestan and Ingushetia people protest against violence. In Chechnya, the atmosphere of fear reigns," said Gannushkina.

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