Russia bans movie on Stalin deportations of Chechens

Quick reminder: Between 1939-1945, Stalin carried out massive deportations of Estonians, Lithuanians, Latvians, Finns, Romanians, Ukrainians, Poles, Germans, Crimean Tatars, Balkars, Karachay, Digors (from Ossetia) and the entire populations of Chechnya and Ingushetia – numbering 7-8 million people (although the numbers could be higher). Half of them died due to hunger, cold, lack of medical care, or simply because they were forced to “work to death”.

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Source – Reuters News

MOSCOW: Russia has refused to permit the release of a film about the mass deportations of entire ethnic groups on Stalin’s orders during World War II, calling it anti-Russian and a falsification of history.

Russia-bans-film Stalin-deportations-Chechens Siberia soviet

The historical drama shot in Chechnya details how the Soviets forcibly deported the whole Chechen nation and the related Ingush group — half a million people — from their homeland in the North Caucasus to Central Asia in the winter of 1944, accusing them of lacking loyalty to the state.

A culture ministry official condemned the film as a “historical falsification” in a letter shown to AFP by the film’s scriptwriter and producer, Ruslan Kokanayev.

“We consider the film will promote ethnic hatred,” wrote Vyacheslav Telnov, director of the ministry’s cinema department, in the letter in response to a request for a release certificate.

Titled “Ordered to Forget”, the film was intended to mark the 70th anniversary of the deportations this year. The culture ministry, which licenses cinema releases, singled out a massacre depicted in the film in which 700 people were burnt to death in the Chechen mountain village of Khaibakh in 1944.

The ministry said it had searched three Russian state archives including the files of the NKVD security forces that carried out the deportations and Stalin’s personal files.

 “As a result of the investigation, no documents were discovered proving the fact of the mass burning of residents,” the ministry said.

“This allows us to conclude that claims of this ‘event’ are a historical falsification.”

An advisor to Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky, Larisa Khon, told the Kommersant daily the ministry had not taken a final decision on the film and would carry out a further expert assessment. The ministry did not respond to a request for comment from AFP.

Chechnya deportations atrocities war crimes movie russia

 ‘A generally accepted fact’

But Alexander Cherkasov of rights group Memorial told AFP the Khaibakh massacre “is considered a generally accepted fact.”

“On February 23 (1944), snow fell in the mountains and it was difficult to move the people out on foot. They brought out the men, but set fire to those who could not walk,” Cherkasov said. “It is only possible to argue about the numbers of the dead.”

The ministry “apparently acted on the principle: let’s not get ourselves into trouble,” Cherkasov said.

The film’s makers were taken aback by the decision. “I didn’t expect it because we were sure we’d get a distribution licence, because these facts are known,” Kokanayev said by telephone from the Chechen capital Grozny.

“I intend to contest this ban,” Kokanayev said. “We will go to court and show that we are in the right.” The history graduate from Chechen State University in Grozny also denied that the film could incite ethnic hatred of Russians. “The film can’t be anti-Russian because it doesn’t say one nation killed another nation,” he said. “Some Russians behaved well towards those deported.”

Russia under President Vladimir Putin has increasingly taken on the mantle of the Soviet Union and prides itself on its victories while downplaying the millions of deaths under Stalin’s forced industrialization, collectivization and prison camps.

Putin has voiced opposition to debate on history and is overseeing the creation of a single history textbook series to be used by all schools.

The film is a “full-length feature film, the first Chechen film,” said Kokanayev. Unusually for a movie maker, the 52-year-old works as the head of a municipal district in Chechnya.

The film was financed by “private investors in Grozny and Moscow,” he said. “We didn’t have any financing from the (state) budget.” It stars several acclaimed actors including Roza Khairullina, who last year won best actress at Russia’s prestigious Golden Mask theatre awards.

The film’s makers have submitted it to a number of film festivals both in Russia and abroad, including the Moscow International Film Festival and the Venice Film Festival.

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Read more about the 1944  Deportations “Cattle trains, no food, no water”

 Testimonies

Salman Dudayev was in the trenches of Stalingrad when he was told he was being exiled on charges of helping the invading Nazi army

Mukhazhar Dzhabrailova was the sole survivor in her family

Other video testimonies

Crimeans
Romanians
Poles

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Cruel amnesty

On 20 March 2000, Russian president Vladimir Putin urged Chechen fighters to take advantage of an amnesty offered by the Russian parliament.  He was speaking after arriving in Chechnya by fighter jet on a surprise trip ahead of this weekend’s presidential elections.

Vladimir Putin flying a jet in Chechnya

Vladimir Putin flying a jet in Chechnya

After a brief tour of parts of the devastated capital Grozny, Mr Putin indicated that Moscow was willing to discuss the republic’s future with rebels who laid down their arms.

He said that those “who have not stained their hands with the blood of Russian nationals, have not killed or robbed, have a choice”.

 

A Russian pilot taken hostage several months before was freed in Komsomolskoye, a Chechen town captured by federal forces after two weeks of heavy shelling. Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Zhukov had been captured in October when his jet went down in Chechnya during a mission. Zhukov was freed in Komsomolskoye on Sunday when rebels there tried to break out of a Russian encirclement. He was said to be in good physical condition.

Not much was left of Komsomolskoye village

Komsomolskoye Chechnya Russia war chechen rebels russian men soldiers fighters

In March of 2000 federal officials announced that 72 rebel guerrillas had surrendered at Komsomolskoye and that all were being amnestied. Two women were also among them, a Chechen woman by the name of Biluyevna Lipa (who appears in the video below) and an ethnic Russian woman who identified herself as wife of one of the Chechen hostages. Ruslan Gelayev, the commander, had escaped 2 days earlier.

The prisoners were taken to Chernokozovo filtration camp, where despite the public declaration of amnesty – they were tortured and killed. Three men survived  – two disappeared (disappearances are a common phenomenon in Chechnya) and one committed suicide, according to Novaya Gazeta.

One of the survivors, Rustam Azizov, told his story to Memorial Human Rights Center before he disappeared.

War in Chechnya: a Chechen militiaman tells his story

He also described the tortures they were subjected to; a short video shot by Russian army captured the treatment described click here for video segment (contains disturbing scenes)

 

 First part of the video below captures the hostages after the surrender; 2 females are part of the hostages. Russian officer also describes the killing of “snipers’ girls” – it’s unsure if it refers to these 2 females

 

A different version of the prisoners  footage

 

Chechen woman by name of Milueva Lipa is being asked to identify herself and admit on video that she was a sniper. She is in a visibly worsened state compared with the previous video

 

The male hostages captured on a 30 minute film, shortly before they died. The women can no longer be seen.

 

To read more about Chernokozovo filtration camp, click here Torture. atrocities (Emily Gillian’s excerpts)

 

The hostage video was made public in 2004 by Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya. According to her, making the video public was the idea of the Russian officer who had filmed it, as he hoped it will help “free him from a nightmare which continues to torture him right up to the present.”

The news report and video download link are still available on the newspaper website where Anna Politkovskaya worked.

http://politkovskaya.novayagazeta.ru/pub/2004/2004-031.shtml

Anna Politkovskaya was shot dead in Moscow in 2006, supposedly for her human rights work and her open criticism of Kremlin’s corruption.

 

It was only through this video tape that the truth was revealed and the families of the prisoners finally learned of the faith of their missing relatives. It also reinforced declarations of Komsomolskoye witnesses like journalist Owen Matthews, who described seeing bodies with hands tied back and severe signs of torture.

The War in Chechnya had an extreme level of violence. To understand what role “violence” plays in Russian military culture, below is a so-called disciplinary video with young Russian conscript soldiers.


War crimes are a sad reality and a fact of every war. However, this particular event involved a declaration of amnesty from the highest state authority – the Russian president himself and the Parliament, and also involved a public statement from military officials of the prisoners “being amnestied” once they had surrendered.

The fact that the amnesty proved to be a false promise and that the real outcome was purposely disclosed from the public by the authorities – most probably with the knowledge of the President himself, affects the credibility of the authority in the Russian state on the highest level, not only in relation to the Chechens but also on international level.

Mass graves

Chechen woman in Grozny cemetery Chechnya Russia war North Caucasus

Below are news reports of different mass graves discoveries in Chechnya –  keep in mind the reports are scarce and they don’t reflect the full scale of the  the situation, which remains unclear to this day, given Moscow’s refusal to investigate or allow international intervention and assistance.

Grozny built on graves

Mass graves are constantly being discovered in Grozny during the rebuilding process, but with the lack of proper forensic laboratories and investigation – the reconstruction frenzy continues, on the graves of war victims. Read more Chechnya’s Capital Rises From the Ashes, Atop Hidden Horrors

The unresolved issue of mass graves HERE

During a trip to the Caucasus in 1860, French writer Alexandre Dumas described how he was invited to go “hunting locals” – a common pastime for the Russian army.

 

Grozny, 1995 - A man is searching for his 2 missing sons. he found one of them. Photo Anthony Suau

Grozny, 1995 – A man is searching for his 2 missing sons in a mass grave. He found one of them.
Photo by Anthony Suau

Despite the fact that the multiple discoveries of mass graves fall under “crime against humanity” category and require immediate investigation, no serious measures have been taken by the international community and business continues as usual between Russia and other major states.

Human Rights organizations find themselves powerless in front of passive governments and Kremlin’s refusal to cooperate in this matter.

angela merkel vladimir putin russia war north caucasus

Russia: Chechen Mass Grave Found

By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Published: June 21, 2008

A grave containing about 800 bodies was reported in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, human rights officials said. A Grozny resident told Russia’s human rights representative in Chechnya that the bodies had been buried between Jan. 2 and Oct. 31, 1995. The resident told Nurdi Nukhadzhiyev, the rights representative, that they were mostly civilians, a spokeswoman said.

Fifty-seven mass graves have been identified in Chechnya, and it is not unusual for construction crews in Grozny to run across collections of bodies.

A mass grave is discovered  in Chechnya and locals come looking for missing relatives

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Russia to Investigate a Mass Grave in Chechnya

By MICHAEL WINES
Published: February 26, 2001 (New York Times)

Russian military officials promised today to investigate a grave containing a number of bodies found near a Russian military base outside the Chechen capital, Grozny. But they made it clear that they believed that its inhabitants had been killed by Chechen rebels and not by Russian soldiers.

A rebel spokesman denied that, and contended that the grave contained the bodies of Chechen civilians who had been rounded up by Russian troops in local mopping-up operations, never to be seen again.

The grave, said to conceal the bodies of anywhere from 11 to several score of Chechen citizens, was uncovered by local residents last week at a dairy not far from the Russian military base of Khankala.

Local military officials said mines had been placed on many bodies, apparently to kill anyone who sought to retrieve them. Russian reports said three bodies had been identified as those of Chechen residents. Most had been killed by gunfire.

The Russian-appointed prosecutor in Grozny, Vsevolod Chernov, said that the area was being surveyed by helicopter and that witnesses were being interviewed.

But a spokesman for the rebel administration in Chechnya told Agence France-Presse that local residents had suspected that the area held the bodies of civilians who had been imprisoned and killed at the Khankala base, but that they had been afraid to search because the area was too close to the outpost.

Separately, Russia’s human rights commissioner and its prosecutor general said they would examine reports by a journalist for the Moscow newspaper Novaya Gazeta that the Russian Army maintains a so-called prisoner pit in Chechnya, where detained civilians have been held for ransom and have sometimes died.

The reporter, Anna Politkovskaya, was detained by Russian officials near the town of Khatuni as she was investigating accounts by people who said they had seen one such pit.

Military officials said Ms. Politkovskaya had been stopped because she had false accreditation papers for her trip, a charge she denied.

The Russian Army has operated so-called filtration camps in Chechnya, where civilians suspected of illegal acts have been detained; and reports of beatings, rapes and ransoms at some camps have been publicized. But the military has denied that such abuses occur.

North Caucasus Russia Chechnya war  crimes atrocities russian soldiers chechen civilians rebels

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Mass grave found on Chechen border

9 september 2002, BBC NEWS

Police in the southern Russian republic of Ingushetia have discovered a mass grave believed to contain the bodies of 15 people arrested by Russian troops in neighboring Chechnya several months ago.

The grave – on the Chechen-Ingush border – was reportedly found after relatives of the victims paid some Russian soldiers a large amount of cash for information.

The human rights group Memorial said seven of the bodies – of ethnic Chechen men who were uncovered last Friday – had been identified.

Correspondents say the discovery, which comes as the UN resumes activities in Chechnya, is a fresh blow to Moscow’s human rights record.

 Probe promise

Some of the bodies in the grave had plastic bags wrapped over their heads and showed signs of “violent death”, according to the press service linked to Chechen leader Aslan Maskhadov.

Russian troops in Chechnya

Rights groups have often attacked Russia’s tactics in Chechnya

A spokesman for the Kremlin office responsible for relations with Chechnya said Russian officials would not be making any comment on the report.

Mr Maskhadov’s office said the 15 had been detained during “mopping-up” operations by Russian troops in north-western Chechnya in mid-May, although Memorial said the arrests began two weeks earlier.

Memorial said that in June military chiefs and prosecutors had promised to probe the detentions and begin inquiries for the release of the 15.

”But nothing happened after this promise,” the group said.

Bodies of Chechen militants near Grozny in January 2000

An estimated 20,000 Chechen militants have been killed in the conflict

The news of the discovery comes two weeks after Russian intelligence released a video of a mass grave found in Chechnya that contained the remains of about 100 Russian soldiers and civilians – all reportedly beheaded.

The dead, believed to be victims of the first Chechen war from 1994 to 1996, were found in the village of Stariy Achkhoy, close to the alleged site of a death camp run by Chechen militants.

 UN resumes

Russian troops stormed back into Chechnya in October 1999 in a self-declared anti-terrorist operation which has been repeatedly criticized as heavy-handed by human rights groups.

About 4,500 Russians have died in the conflict so far, according to official figures, although anti-war groups believe the actual toll may be three times higher.

Russian military officials estimate that 20,000 Chechen guerrillas have been killed.

The discovery of the mass grave came as the UN announced it was resuming aid operations in Chechnya halted in July after the abduction of Russian aid worker Nina Davydovich.

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Russia Must Account for “Disappearances” in Military Custody

February 27, 2001 (Human Rights Watch)

We have established a clear pattern of cases when people ‘disappear’ in the custody of Russian troops. So the discovery of this mass grave is very alarming.

Holly Cartner, Executive Director of the Europe and Central Asia Division of Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch urged an urgent investigation into the mass grave discovered Saturday near the main Russian military base in Chechnya.

In a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the international monitoring organization called on the Russian government to make public all available information about the grave, to allow relatives of missing persons to search for their loved ones among the bodies, and to ask the Council of Europe to provide a team of forensic medical experts to participate in the investigation. Human Rights Watch also wrote to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe urging the organization to offer its assistance investigating the grave.

On February 24, local residents discovered a mass grave-possibly containing as many as 200 dead bodies-in an abandoned village in the vicinity of the Khankala military base. According to press reports, after news of the grave became known, a Grozny man found among the corpses his sixteen-year-old son, who had been missing since December 2000. He also found the body of the young man with whom his son had gone missing. Russian law enforcement agents have apparently sealed off the area to prevent people from looking for missing relatives.

“We have established a clear pattern of cases when people ‘disappear’ in the custody of Russian troops,” said Holly Cartner, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch’s Europe and Central Asia division. “So the discovery of this mass grave is very alarming.” The mass grave discovered near Khankala is not the first unmarked grave to be found in Chechnya. Throughout the past six months, unmarked graves containing the bodies of people who had previously “disappeared” in the custody of Russian troops were found in several villages, including Starye Atagi, Dzhalka, Gekhi, Duba-Yurt and Mesker-Yurt. Many of the bodies had been severely mutilated. Injuries commonly found on these bodies included broken limbs, scalped body parts, cut off fingertips, knife and gunshot wounds.

Human Rights Watch and Memorial, a leading Russian human rights group, have recently documented more than fifty cases in which relatives or others witnessed Russian forces detaining individuals, but were unable to obtain any further information about their whereabouts. In most cases, law enforcement agencies flatly denied that the detention had ever taken place. [Human Rights Watch issued a field update on abuses in Chechnya on January 22, 2001 with further information on this trend.]

In one case, the parents of three young men managed to receive confirmation that their sons had been taken to the Khankala military base. After Islam Dombaev (15), Murad Lianov (17), and Timor Tabzhanov (18) were detained on June 28, 2000 in Grozny, local Chechen police informed the parents that Ministry of Interior forces had detained the three and taken them to Khankala. Parents’ inquiries at the base have yielded no result. The head of the unit that detained the three refused to appear for questioning at the Grozny prosecutor office. The military prosecutor claims military servicemen had nothing to do with this “disappearance.”

Russian prosecutors have opened criminal investigations into some of these “disappearances.” However, the investigations are plagued with serious deficiencies, and so far produced no results. [On February 9, 2001, Human Rights Watch issued a memorandum on domestic prosecutions.]

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Mass Grave Uncovered in Chechnya

mass grave in chechnya. Source: memorial.ruA mass grave containing the remains of some 300 people has been uncovered at an asphalt plant in the Republic of Chechnya. As the Kommersant newspaper reported Thursday (RUS), the site dates from the Second Chechen war, and likely contains civilian victims of an attack by Russian forces.

Russia has led two wars against separatists in the region, and both sides have targeted and killed civilians. Russian troops have been accused of a systematic campaign of torture and “disappearances,” a charge the defense ministry denies.

In recent years, major fighting has died down, although eruptions of violence and attacks on the armed forces continue periodically.

Nurdi Nukhazhiyev, the Republic’s official human rights ombudsman, said the grave contained the bodies of refugee men, women and children shelled by Russian troops in October 1999. The refugees were traveling together in an attempt to leave Chechnya’s capital, Grozny, via a special “green corridor” opened to allow peaceful residents to flee areas of fighting.

“After completely destroying the convoy of refugees, the soldiers buried the corpses together with their vehicles and belongings in a big pit on the territory of the asphalt plant, which is located near the road,” Reuters quoted Nukhazhiyev as saying.

The grave was first discovered in 2000, but was never exhumed. Nukhazhiyev said he had petitioned Yury Chaika, Russia’s prosecutor general, to send an investigative team and establish a special laboratory to help identify the victims.

The announcement comes just over a week after another mass grave, containing some 800 bodies, was discovered in Grozny.

As many as 100,000 civilians are thought to have perished in the two conflicts. According to Nukhazhiyev, some 60 mass graves have been found throughout Chechnya.

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Mass grave discovered in Grozny contains bodies of guerrillas and civilians

By Umalt Chadayev

April 5th 2006 · Prague Watchdog

CHECHNYA – In early April it was reported that a mass grave had been discovered in the grounds of Kirov Park, in Grozny’s Leninsky district. The remains of a total of 57 people have been extracted from the place.

According to representatives of the law enforcement agencies, six bodies have not yet been identified. It is planned to send their remains to the South Russian city of Rostov-on-Don for forensic medical examination.

One of the inhabitants of Grozny who was an eyewitness of the sad events told Prague Watchdog’s correspondent that the burial of people in the grounds of Kirov Park took place in the winter of 2000, when Russian soldiers stormed the Chechen capital.

“Someone was buried there almost every day,” says 44-year-old Adlan. “After all, it was precisely in January-February 2000 that Grozny underwent the most intensive shelling and air raids. Among the people killed were both guerrillas and civilians.”

“There was almost no possibility of transporting the bodies to the villages, as is usually done.  The city was completely blockaded, and it was subjected to continuous bombing and shelling with all kinds of weaponry. Like many tens of thousands of Grozny’s inhabitants, I found myself in the blockaded city. It was a terrible time. There was no heat and no light, and the shortage of food supplies and water constantly made itself felt. It was impossible to evacuate the sick and wounded, and many of them died because they did not receive aid in time,” he asserts.

“I also took part several times in the burials of those who had been killed. I even had a list of the surnames of everyone who was buried there, but later on I lost it. In addition, we placed a note (usually in jars or bottles) in each grave, showing the surnames and first names of the victims. As far as I know, in April-May of 2000 nine graves were uncovered in Kirov Park, and the relatives took away the remains for burial in cemeteries,” Adlan says.

“I can’t speak with certainty today, but I think that many more people were buried there. As for the bodies which could not be identified, they were most probably buried as unknowns,” the respondent believes.

As is now known, a criminal case has been opened by the Leninsky district Prosecutor’s Office concerning the discovery of the mass grave in the Chechen capital. However, local residents express doubt that the Russian soldiers who are to blame for the deaths of people in the winter of 2000 will ever be punished.

“As a result of non-selective artillery fire, which included the use of multiple-launch rocket systems such as ‘Grad’, ‘Uragan’ and ‘Smerch’, and of vacuum, needle and other bombs, thousands of innocent civilians perished in Chechnya, and in particular the city of Grozny, during 1999-2000,” says Alikhan Isayev, who teaches at one of Grozny’s institutions of higher education.

“The responsibility for this lies first and foremost with the high Russian military command, including Yeltsin and Putin as commanders-in-chief,” he is convinced.

“I would like to see them charged with criminal responsibility. For that reason, I consider the opening of a criminal case concerning the discovery of a mass grave in Kirov Park to be a pure formality.”.

On the site of the former Kirov Park the local authorities plan to build a large entertainment center which will bear the name of Akhmat-Khadji Kadyrov, the late Moscow-backed Chechen leader.

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Mass Graves Found Near Old Chechen Prison Camp

By Yuri Bagrov, The Moscow Times

VLADIKAVKAZ, North Ossetia — Several mass graves believed to contain the remains of at least 80 soldiers and abducted civilians have been found in Chechnya, an official in Chechnya’s Moscow-backed administration said Wednesday.The graves, found Monday in weed-covered fields near Stary Achkhoi, about 50 kilometers southwest of Grozny, are believed to date from the first Chechen war in 1994-96, the administration official said on condition of anonymity.The remains, which were being sent to a military forensic laboratory in Rostov-on-Don, have not been identified, he said.Rebel fighters had a prison camp nearby, military spokesman Colonel Ilya Shabalkin said in televised comments. “These were the bodies of servicemen and builders abducted by rebel groups” in early 1996, Shabalkin told Interfax.He said that rebels in the area had abducted 20 employees of the Germes-Yug energy company, 15 federal soldiers and 28 construction workers from southern Russia during the 1994-96 war, Interfax reported.Meanwhile, a high-level military official in the region, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Mi-26 military helicopter that crashed Aug. 19 in Chechnya, killing 118 people, was downed by two anti-aircraft missiles — one that hit it in the air and the second near the ground.The commission investigating the crash has not announced the results of its probe.Also Wednesday, rebel fighters clashed with federal troops near the village of Gansalchu in the Nozhai-Yurt district, the administration official said. Two soldiers died and five were wounded during the fighting, the official said. At least five rebels were also killed.

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Chechen ‘mass grave’ exposed
The Russian army is facing fresh accusations that its soldiers have committed serious war crimes in Chechnya.

Battle for the Caucasus

Video footage shot by a German journalist shows bodies of men believed to be Chechen fighters in a mass grave.

Many of them had been mutilated. Some were wrapped in barbed wire. Soldiers are seen throwing one body into the grave from a tank and dragging another behind a truck.

Russian soldiers Russian soldiers have faced repeated allegations of abuses
The pictures come after months of allegations of atrocities by Russian forces, which have repeatedly been denied by Moscow.The images are already prompting renewed calls for a full international investigation into all the allegations of recent months.”The Russian government has said consistently that our reports of summary executions and other abuses were lies,” Human Rights Watch spokeswoman Minky Worden told BBC News Online.

With evidence like this there should be no more pussyfooting around by the international community
Human Rights Watch spokeswoman

“They just can’t argue with this footage. It is entirely consistent with what our investigators have found from talking to refugees on the Chechen border.

“With evidence like this, there really should be no more pussyfooting around by the international community.”

Ms Worden said economic sanctions such as the withholding of loan payments from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund should now be imposed.

But British Labour MP Donald Anderson, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said he believed pressure would not affect Russian policy immediately.

“There is no way the tactics of the Russians will alter betwen now and the election,” he told the BBC.

Unhindered

“Vladimir Putin relies on his reputation as a nationalist, as a strong man, and his electoral success depends on that.”

The German journalist who took the pictures says he believes the troops themselves may disagree with the work they are having to do. He says this would explain the unhindered access he was given to the site of the mass grave.

Throughout Chechnya, Russian soldiers have been searching captured villages and towns for Chechen fighters.

Many men have been detained and their families have had no word on their whereabouts.

There was no immediate Russian reaction to the footage, but in Friday’s Izvestia newspaper, Mr Putin vowed to continue the campaign.

In an “open letter” to electors, Vladimir Putin said the Russian army was defeating what he called the “Chechen bandits” in a move towards establishing “a dictatorship of the law which is fair to all.”

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