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.

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Chechen traditional costume & culture

Main source – “The Chechens”  HERE (pdf format)

get it on Amazon The Chechens: A Handbook

The Chechens are an ethnic group of the Nakh people; the Nakh  (Chechen, Ingush and Kist) belong to the Northeast Caucasian family.

The Chechen population counts 1.500.000 people; up to 500.000 were displaced to Europe after the second war (in Germany, France, Scandinavia, Poland, Belgium).

Chechens refer to themselves as “Noxchi”.

Chechen society is divided on sexes (conservative Muslim society). Men are seen as sole bread winners in the family household, while women’s main duty is to become a good wife and mother. Women may have a job but the job must not involve socialization with other men.

chechnya girls-chechen-women-costume-north-caucasus-people-nakh

1870 Chechen woman

1870 Chechen woman

1870 Chechen woman – traditional Chechen headscarf/ veil was simple, made of cotton. The main materials used were woolen fabrics and animal skin. More sophisticated fabricss appeared after year 1900.

Up until XIX century, traditional Chechen costumes were different but all traditional dress across the Caucasus kept a general resemblance. Modern Chechen dress was heavily influenced by Circassian costumes in the XIX century.

North Caucasus Chechnya dancers chechen men women chechens

 

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Customs originate in most ancient times. They define “checheness”, very important in the identity of proud Chechens. Society was not stratified and had no social classes, instead it was organized in tribes. Therefore the code of Chechen morals were the backbone of  Chechen society.

Women were considered for marriage from mid to late teens, whereas men started married later. Men and women met at dance parties and communication was made through family members.

It was taboo for men to touch women in public (this remains available to this day). Touching a woman meant defilement and the culprit was executed by the family of the woman. The culprit could escape punishment by suckling on the breast of the woman’s mother, making him a foster brother.

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North Caucasus Chechnya people chechen girls chechens

North Caucasus Chechnya people chechen men traditional costume

Chechnya chechen men North Caucasus people chechens

Wedding is the way of celebration for the new family acquisition. Only the groom’s family celebrates, while the bride and her family stay away from main wedding ceremonies. The bride’s family is considered to have no reason for celebration since they “lose” a member.

Chechens consider pride and affection as weakness, and do not openly show joy at the birth of children or show affection in public towards partner or children.

Chechens only marry within their own ethnic group. Chechen women are held in high esteem, however if a woman is raped, she will be considered tainted and no one will marry her. Although during the Soviet period, mixed Russian-Chechen couples were common (between Russian women and Chechen men, never the opposite), the fact that one may be ethnically mixed (especially with Russian) is frowned upon and hidden.

North Caucasus Chechnya people chechen men women chechens.

Chechen wedding – the bride and groom make their vows separately. While the groom celebrates at home with his friends, the bride arrives at the main party but doesnt participate. She sits aside quietly in what translates as “modesty” in Chechen customs.

*Numerous youtube videos show sumptuous Chechen weddings – they belong to Chechen president Kadyrov’s circles. Regular Chechens are modest.

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North Caucasus Chechnya people chechen men traditional outfit

Itum Kali Chechnya national costume chechen children dance

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Hospitality was a sacred institution prevalent all over the Caucasus and respect for guests was a source of pride for all Caucasian peoples. A guest was lodged in the best quarters of the house and special provisions were set aside for guests. On the other hand, travelers with no bona fide hosts were considered as hostile and were usually taken as prisoners or slaves.

At social or family gatherings (parties, dinners, weddings etc), men and women never sit together, but at separate tables.

Though women are held in high esteem, they must show a certain respect to men. Women always stand up when a man walks in, and they never speak over a man.

North Caucasus Chechnya chechen women

Chechen woman 1897

Chechen woman 1897

North Caucasus Chechnya men old photo archives

North Caucasus dress Chechnya people chechen men chechens archive photos

North Caucasus outfit Chechnya chechen men Caucasian kama dagger shalt

 

Chechen Shalt Kama traditional dagger North Caucasus people nakh Vainakh

 

Nakh towers, typical of Chechnya and Ingushetia. Built to stand as solid refure not only from invaders, but also from each other during their deadly tribal feuds.

Nakh towers, typical of Chechnya and Ingushetia. Built to stand as solid refuge not only from invaders, but also from each other during their deadly tribal feuds.

Nakh towers, typical of Chechnya and Ingushetia. Built to stand as solid refuge not only from invaders, but also from each other during their deadly tribal feuds.

chechnya chechen women girls caucasus people chechens

North Caucasus Chechnya chechen men traditional outfit chechens

North Caucasus Chechnya people chechens

North Caucasus dancers Chechnya chechen women

North Caucasus dance Chechnya chechen men women traditional outfit

Chechnya chechen dancer North Caucasus

Chechen men traditional dance North Caucasus people nakh Vainakh

Chechnya chechen dancers North Caucasus people

North Caucasus Chechnya dance chechen men women chechens

Chechnya chechen men dance North Caucasus people nakh Vainakh

Chechnya chechen men traditional North Caucasus people nakh Vainakh

Chechnya chechen men traditional costume North Caucasus people nakh Vainakh

Caucasus Chechnya national costume chechen boys Itum Kali chechens

Chechen men traditional dressing North Caucasus people nakh Vainakh

 

North Caucasus Chechnya national costume chechens

 

Chechnya chechen men drummer traditional music North Caucasus people Vainakh

Chechnya chechen men traditional drums music North Caucasus people nakh

CHECHNYA 2013

Chechnya chechen men women dance Caucasus people

 

North Caucasus chechen men traditional dance chechens

North Caucasus people Chechnya chechen dancers Vainakh

Children dressed in national costumes dance in central Grozny during celebrations of the lifting of security regime

Chechen girls traditional dressing North Caucasus people nakh Vainakh

Chechen girl traditional dressing North Caucasus people nakh Vainakh

 

Chechen men traditional dressing North Caucasus people nakh

 

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Chechen men women traditional dance North Caucasus people nakh Vainakh chechens

Chechnya chechen men women traditional costumes North Caucasus people nakh Vainakh chechens

Shamkhan Hadji Khamadov, 56, the Kharachoi clan, Grozny, Chechnya

 

Chechnya chechen men Caucasus people nakh

Chechnya chechen men traditional costumes North Caucasus people nakh Vainakh chechens

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Lezginka Chechnya chechen men women dancers painting

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“Secular” women are becoming more ad more Islamic in their customs and dressing. While the Chechen leader Kadyrov is allegedly forcing certain women to wear Hijab, more and more young people are willingly adopting it was a way of life, as Sunni Islam is seducing the youth (as opposed to Sufi Islam, practiced by old people).

chechnya chechen women girls chechnya caucasus people chechens

Regular dressing involved long dress (short dresses are forbidden and see as degrading), and the traditional chechen scarf (which covers head only partially).

Chechnya, Russia, Chechen insurgents’ wife arrangers her scarf on a mountain base. Chechen women fighting in war was common until radical Islam took over and they were excluded from all activities.

Chechen insurgents’ wife arrangers her scarf on a mountain base. Chechen women fighting in war was common until radical Islam took over and they were excluded from all activities.

chechnya chechen women girls caucasus people . chechens

The Chechen scarf was not always a must-be item.

chechnya chechen women girls caucasus people chechens

The Hijab (covers all hair) is becoming a normal occurrence, included even in traditional full costume

muslim chechnya chechen women girls caucasus people chechens

Chechen girls in front of central Grozny mosque.

chechnya chechen women girls caucasus people chechens

Chechen women walking in downtown Grozny.

 

Chechen rebel “mole” – story of betrayal

source: Radio  Free Europe, Eurasia Daily Monitor

On January 23 2013, a group of rebel fighters lead by Gakayev brothers was “eliminated” during a shootout in the mountains of Chechnya, in Vedeno district.

The fighters had reportedly been pursued for days by a contingent of several thousand Russian and pro-Moscow Chechen police and security forces, who deployed combat helicopters and heavy artillery against them. They might have managed to escape, had their precise whereabouts not reportedly been betrayed, possibly under torture, by a member of the group.

At the time of the fighting, Chechen security forces was quoted as saying rebel fighter Islam Temishev (age 22) surrendered to the authorities following a gun battle on January 23 with Gakayev rebel group.

In the weeks after, it was revealed that Temishev was one of several “moles” who had infiltrated the rebels’ ranks over the past few years.

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In this video, Islam Temishev and other alleged “mole” Algiriev Beslan – are seen talking as unsuspected members of the rebel group. The third man showing up in the video, Islam Atiev (age 24) was killed later in December 2013.

Islam Temishev and

Islam Temishev and Algiriev Beslan

Chechen rebel spies infiltrated in the rebel group

Chechen rebel spies infiltrated in the rebel group

Islam Atiev (kiled in december 2013) and 2 rebel fighters killed with Gukayev brothers

Islam Atiev (killed december 2013) and 2 rebel fighters killed during the January 2013 rebel-army confrontation

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Video of the questioning of the second spy (Algiriev Beslan) dispatched by the government. The rebels also show devices the spy possessed: —miniature bombs that were to be planted under certain commanders, signaling devices that were supposed to alert government forces about rebel locations, and so on. Algiriev Beslan says he was tortured and coerced into cooperating with government forces.

The video was designed to show that the government’s successes were the result of the “moles” they plant among the rebels. At the end of the questioning, the alleged spy is executed.

http://vk.com/video201291309_164872333?hash=5cc27f17dc3b8d9d

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On January 23, the pro-insurgency website Chechenews.com reported receiving information that the group had telephoned with the news that they were surrounded and had no hope of surviving. Video footage shows Muslim Gakayev having a head wound bandaged; another fighter asks jokingly why the enemy can’t fire more quietly.

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Islam Temishev together with Russian and pro-Russian Chechen forces during the January 23 rebel-army battle

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Bodies of the rebel group members in the forest

GRAPHIC FOOTAGE

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Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov shows up on television with Islam Temishev, whom he questions (among other things) about life inside the rebel enclave. Kadyrov portrays rebels as cowards and promises severe punishment.

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On the night of February 18, the men accused by Islam Temishev of providing food and other essentials to the rebels – were brought to Vedeno and were humiliated by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov in front of television cameras. One of the men was terminally-ill Said Gunkbayev (pictured below).

 

Said Gunkbayev on TV

Said Gunkbayev

At the end of the broadcast,  the media sources announced that “despite the severity of the crimes committed, Ramzan Kadyrov gave them a chance and let them go”. However, after the televised appearance a few of the men “disappeared” (common phenomenon in the region) and Said Gunkbayev’s body was found with signs of torture.

*A new measure to combat terrorism installed by Akhmad Kadyrov and later by his son Ramzan Kadyrov – extends the punishment of rebel fighters to their families and even neighbors, even if there is no proof of direct involvement or knowledge of their relative’s actions. Moscow-based Memorial Human Rights group and its member Natalya Estemirova accused Kadyrov of human rights violations in the “fight against terror”. Natalia Estemirova was murdered in July 2009 in Grozny.
(Source: “What Your Children Do Will Touch Upon You” Human Rights Watch report)