25 January 2004, 15:44

'We should search allies to achieve noble goal' - Baudi Dudaev

Caucasian Knot: Will you introduce yourself, please. Tell us in brief about you and what you do.

Baudi Dudaev: My full name is Baudi Nokhaevich Dudaev. I came to be a human rights advocate during the second military campaign in Chechnya. Please don't think I am saying this for false modesty, but it was circumstances, as they say, that drove me to this path, although I confess I did not personally plan to "go on the air", so to speak, and I don't like famous names too much. However, I happened to be of use and at once started working.

To the best of our knowledge, from the very start of the military campaign in Chechnya numerous refugees flooded Ingushetia, and far from always they were welcome. Forced migrants began to have trouble with local law enforcement agencies. The role of human rights advocates in such a situation can hardly be overestimated. Solving everyday problems of your compatriots who are not to blame for having come to be in the difficult conditions of refugee camps, we systematically meet with local government representatives, and we manage to compromise with them. Thus, thanks to our interference up to 30,000 forced migrants were put back on the Federal Migration Service's lists after their removal from the database without good reason. Removed from those lists, the refugees were automatically stripped of the right to receive humanitarian aid.

CK.: When and why did you take up forced migrants affairs?

B.D.: The story of my official path is this. From the very beginning I joined the mentioned movement when on March 4, 2001, the 1st Congress of Refugees in Orjonikidzevskaya (Sleptsovskaya), Sunzha district, Ingushetia, Russia, appointed me head of the Office for Refugees Affairs at the Chechen Committee for National Salvation chaired by Ruslan Badalov, formerly a well-known sportsman and presently a human rights advocate. Later, on March 8, 2002, the General Meeting of Chechen nongovernmental human rights and humanitarian organizations in Nazran, Ingushetia, made a decision to set up Independent Consultative Council (ICC), and I was elected its chairman. Actually, this organization combined several lines of work with forced migrants. Because of this, the leadership of the ICC which from the very beginning was composed of various human rights organizations would subsequently be split over a number of points, which induced the General Meeting to make a decision on division of the ICC, since there was a need to establish a separate structure to handle everyday problems of forced migrants. This decision was approved at the Forced Migrants Conference, so a Meeting of Founders was called on December 8, 2002, that announced establishment of the regional public organization Forced Migrants Union (FMU) which presently actively cooperates with other organizations. We also maintain contacts with other NGOs in Chechnya and Ingushetia.

CK.: So what is the path of the FMU leadership?

B.D.: Such meetings take place periodically, as the FMU actually handles lobbying of forced migrants' interests. For example, we help people receive temporary registrations. Sure, there is a need for a contact with local government to achieve a positive result. Two years ago, in November 2001, taking part in the Civil Forum in the Kremlin as a representative of the regional public organization Chechen Committee for National Salvation, I delivered a report on the condition of forced migrants from Chechnya in Ingushetia. In 2002, I had a personal conversation with Vladislav Surkov, deputy chief of staff for the Russian president. During the talk, I told him about the catastrophic position of the refugees. This meeting was preceded by a visit of the Russian human rights advocates Oleg Mironov and Liudmila Alekseyeva, president of the Moscow Helsinki Group and International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, to Chechnya and Ingushetia. Besides, in Chechnya we had met with the command of the United Group of Troops, the prosecutor and military prosecutor of Chechnya, the leadership of Russia's Internal Affairs Ministry for Chechnya, and the Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for Human Rights, Vladimir Kalamanov.

CK.: How would you describe the operation of Chechen human rights organizations in Ingushetia?

B.D.: One can often hear criticism against Chechen NGOs in Ingushetia, but I would like to note right away that I never judge my colleagues for what they did or did not do. I just try to cope with the tasks that are entrusted to me. I am conscious that any NGO representative would like sincerely to see the armed conflict in Chechnya over as soon as possible. There is another question: who does what along the mentioned line in the name of achieving this cherished goal? This is where it turns out that every person's degree of participation in and contribution to the common cause is different. However, again, I wouldn't judge anyone severely, because everyone does only that what they are capable of. After all, Internet media and newspapers periodically enable the voice of Chechen human rights organizations to be heard, and that is important, too. It is obvious to anyone that the conflict in Chechnya will stop only when representatives of the "party of war" want it. But we must do our best to make this cherished day of peace and quiet in our long-suffering land at least an inch closer.

CK.: How do you assess the situation in Chechnya and about it? Do you think there is a ground for optimism?

B.D.: The situation in Chechnya became worse more than once during these four years from the start of the so-called "counter-terrorist" campaign. Tens of thousands of Chechen citizens died because of dynamic military action and following repressions against civilians. It is no secret that there were mass extrajudicial executions, abductions, extortion on roads, and so on over this entire period here. So if our people had not kept hoping for a soon and positive outcome against the background of this total insanity, no one could have stood this heaviest moral press.

Nothing is eternal in this transitory world, and there is an end to this war, too. It will come, sooner or later. There should always be a ground for optimism. We still hope that God's mercy will help our people.

CK.: What does your interaction with international humanitarian organizations consist in, and what specific aid can you provide to your compatriots?

B.D.: We provide aid to forced migrants in the form of legal advice, accommodation, and improvement of their conditions. The FMU leadership has been carrying out its public work over several years. The FMU maintains contacts with a number of international humanitarian organizations to which it submits its applications on which those provide aid to the most indigent from among forced migrants. Thus, FMU assistance enabled organization of first-aid posts in eight temporary accommodation points and construction of ten kindergartens, twenty-three sports grounds, six elementary and four secondary schools.

We have contacts practically with all international humanitarian organizations, because the entire operation of the FMU is linked with caring about refugees' needs, which in turn implies maintaining relations with humanitarian organizations such as the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the Danish Refugee Council, UNICEF, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Medical Corps, the People in Need Foundation (or PINF, Czech Republic), and others. Our operation consists in solving everyday problems of forced migrants, improvement of their conditions, and human rights activities. We prompt international organizations the right solutions to current problems and provide some or other recommendations and assistance in collecting required information.

CK.: What is the exact number of temporary accommodation points and forced migrants in Ingushetia?

B.D.: Working on the issue of forced migrants in Ingushetia, I often had to attend points of compact residence of Chechen refugees practically all over Ingushetia. Sure enough, there are huge camps such as in the Sunzha district. These are Bart in Karabulak, Satsita, Bella, Alina, and Sputnik in Sleptsovskaya. Three to five thousand live in these camps. Tent camps account for a total of about 35% of all refugees. There are some compact settlements with a population of 1,000 each. However, there are also dozens of small settlements where no more than a score of people live. The number of compact settlements in Ingushetia, both small and big, is over 200, according to our information. More precisely, there are 202 temporary accommodation points.

CK.: Rumor has it forced migrants will be evicted from places of their compact residence by force from September. What can you say about that?

B.D.: The overwhelming majority of people do not live in refugee camps of their own free will. The matter is many people don't actually have a place to return, because their homes were burnt to ashes or razed to the ground. In Chechnya, they simply have no place to live in. Moreover, people are worried about their children. They say their sons have become adolescents over four years, so coming back home, they are afraid for their destiny. After all, it is no secret that the armed conflict is still underway in Chechnya, in spite of all assurances by officials. So accordingly, so-called "clean-up operations" are still carried out by federal military men, and young people often disappear as a result. Most parents in this situation prefer to endure humiliations on the part of local police and difficult living conditions in the compact settlements in Ingushetia. I would also like to express gratitude to Ingushetia's former president, Ruslan Aushev, who did everything he could to alleviate the condition of people whom war made indigent and who happened to be in a strange land against their will.

CK.: Please, say what your dream is, and what you wish all the people of Chechnya.

B.D.: In the period of turmoil my entire people is going through, no one can have a dream other than the end of all this nightmare which our people have experienced over the past years. It is my deep conviction that the Chechens are among the worthiest peoples on this planet, and no doubt we deserve a better lot. I dream that the war is over, and the Chechens' sufferings are over with it; that peace, trust, understanding and prosperity come to the entire Caucasus; that our Grozny and other towns and settlements in Chechnya recover from ruin and assume a beautiful appearance - more blooming than before the war. We, Chechens, must do the right conclusions and learn lessons from what happened to our land, so that never again our land becomes the arena for bloody confrontation. In the meantime, we should be seeking this, looking for allies to achieve this noble goal.

Source: Our own information

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