Dondi-Yurt open air museum, Chechnya

Dondi Yurt open air Museum beautiful Chechnya north Caucasus

Dondi-Yurt open air museum of Urus-Martan, Chechnya, is a private museum built by Adam Satuyev, ex-Chechen athlete.

Mister Satuyev, who had been collecting Chechen artifacts for years, decided to exhibit his collection in an open-air museum. Satuyev himself reenacted typical Chechen dwelling (residential) towers on his property in which he exposed his collection. The museum visit is free of charge.

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Abuses in the Russian army

source: Human Rights Watch, BBC News, English Pravda

Russian soldier boys North Caucasus

Young conscript soldiers being “disciplined” for being deserters or committing other petty crimes. WARNING! the scenes are disturbing, contains extreme violence

Conscription in Russia is a 12 month draft, mandatory for all male citizens age 18–27. The mandatory term of service was reduced from 18 months at the beginning of 2008.

“Dedovshchina” is the subjection of new junior conscripts to brutalization by the conscripts serving their last year of compulsory military service, as well as NCOs and officers. It is often cited as a major source of poor morale in the ranks.

Every army has a certain level of abuse. In the last 25 years, the abuse in the Russian army has risen to level of  “human rights violations”.

Many young men are killed or commit suicide every year because of dedovshchina. Tens of thousands of soldiers run away, while thousands more are left physically and or mentally scarred.
The Committees of Soldiers’ Mothers of Russia was created in 1989 in order to protect the rights of young soldiers.

In 2012, a draftee from Chelyabinsk region, Ruslan Aiderkhanov, was raped and tortured to death by his seniors. The lone witness who testified against the alleged perpetrators, Danil Chalkin, was later found shot dead in his military base. A contract soldier, Alikbek Musabekov was later arrested in this incident. (read news report here)

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Arkady Babchenko, veteran of the Chechen war:

Russian boy soldier Chechnya

Arkady and his parents before his departure for Chechnya

“It’s no longer a secret in Russia. It’s existed for 30 years. We never talk about it in the media, but nothing has changed. They’re just the rules of the game. If you have a son, you know one day he’ll have to leave for two years to do military service, and that for those two years, he’ll be beaten. The military reflects society, therefore, if society is cruel, the military will be cruel.”

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Russian soldier jailed for abuse

Bullying victim Andrei Sychev

The victim, Andrei Sychev, developed gangrene after being told to crouch

A Russian soldier has been sentenced to 4 years in jail for abusing a conscript soldier so badly that his legs and genitals required amputation.

The incident took place at the Chelyabinsk Tank Academy in the Ural Mountains on New Year’s Eve 2005, while Sgt Sivyakov’s unit went on a drinking spree to celebrate the holiday.

The conscript soldier was tied to a chair and beaten, and made to crouch for so long that the blood flow to his legs was cut off and he developed gangrene.

Nine months after the attack, he remains in hospital.

Sivyakov, was convicted of exceeding his authority and using violence. He always denied any wrongdoing.

The prosecution had demanded a penalty of six years in jail. Pte Sychev’s family denounced the punishment – even before it was handed out – as inadequate.

More than 6,000 soldiers were victims of abuse last year, the military has said.

Junior Sgt. Aleksandr V. Sivyakov is charged with abusing Private Sychyov. He has pleaded not guilty.

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SEX SLAVERY

According to the UN International Panel for Struggle against Sexual Exploitation, the Russian army is plagued with male prostitution. A small amount of money is enough to find a Russian soldier-prostitute in the center of Moscow.

Servicemen may become male prostitutes in the Russian army for various reasons. There are young men who voluntarily offer sexual favors to their homosexual clients; others are forced into prostitution against their own will. Newcomers, especially those who finished higher schools before joining the army, suffer from sexual harassment more often than others. Brave soldiers try to protect their honor and rights, although there is no one to help them: commanders and military officials may often be involved in the sex business too.

“When I was standing on duty, two bullies came up to me and shoved me into the stockroom, a soldier serving at one of Moscow’s military units recollects. “They raped me there in turn. It was very painful and revolting. It didn’t take them much time to finish, but the next day I started noticing other soldiers giving me strange looks. I instantly realized that those bastards let everyone know what they had done to me. An officer came up to me one day and said to me point-blank: “Tomorrow you will to serve two clients.” I knew that if I said “no” then I would spend my last days spitting blood. But still, I told him “no.” When the officer heard that, he pulled out pictures of me being raped in the stockroom. “If you don’t serve the clients, you mother will see these pictures,” said he. I was forced into prostitution,” the soldier said.

Another serviceman, named only as Ilya, became a male prostitute during his second month in the army. The young man received a letter from his girlfriend. “The sergeant told me that day that I would no longer need girls. He and three other men forced me to go behind the barracks to the abandoned construction site. They made me kneel their, tied me up to a lamppost and hit me several times in the groin. The pain was so strong that I lost the will to fight them back. They made me open my mouth and raped me. I don’t remember how long it continued. When I came to my senses I didn’t want to live. I was seriously thinking about committing suicide. I was shocked that the rapists were visiting me regularly afterwards bringing fruit and vodka for me. When it ended they made me a prostitute,” Ilya said.

There were many incidents when soldiers prefer bid farewell to their lives being unable to cope with humiliation. However, military officials mostly say that such stories occur because of the unbalanced state of mind of the soldiers.

FULL STORY HERE http://english.pravda.ru/society/stories/15-02-2007/87441-army_prostitute-0

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  Boys beaten by older officer. The abuse gets gradually worse

International group Human Rights Watch has published a detailed study of what it calls “horrific violence” against new conscripts in the Russian army.

The 86-page report was called “The Wrongs of Passage: Inhuman and Degrading Treatment of New Recruits in the Russian Armed Forces”

The report says organized bullying has not only continued since Soviet times, but has become harsher.

Human Rights Watch says that although the abuse has been known about for several years, Russia’s leadership has done nothing to address the problem.

One conscript, Alexander D, told Human Rights Watch that “the one way to avoid physical abuse was complete submission – turning into a ‘lackey’ who does whatever he is asked no matter how humiliating or senseless”.

He says he was repeatedly beaten for refusing to sew collars on senior soldiers’ jackets. Another time Alexander D’s belongings were taken away and he was sent out, along with others, to beg for money to buy vodka.

The situation is exacerbated by the fact that most conscripts are ill-educated and frequently come from backgrounds with severe social problems, the report says.

Many junior officers either do not care about the welfare of their soldiers, or passively encourage the bullying as it gives a certain “discipline” to the barrack block.

First-year conscripts could also be forced to act out an old army joke called “dried crocodile”, he says.

The conscripts had to put their hands and feet on the posts at the head and feet of the bed and remain in push-up position for long periods of time.

“They [the dedy] lie down on the bed [beneath you] and God forbid you fall. They beat you up and then start from scratch. Sometimes they even burn your leg from down there… when they were drunk they could make you hang all night.”

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March 1994 – Mass shooting committed by two abuse victims 

MOSCOW — For months, the two young draftees had been subjected to the routine cruelty inflicted on Russian army recruits. Then came a painful, ritualized hazing to mark the completion of basic training.

Such abuse is common throughout Russia’s armed forces. Its teenage victims frequently end up with serious injuries. An alarming number are killed or driven to commit suicide.

Almost always, the mistreatment is ignored or covered up. This time, though, the results were so unusual-and so ghastly-that there was no way the army could keep them secret.

The tragedy unfolded at a remote base on a bleak, impoverished island in the Pacific Ocean. In the wee hours of the morning last Tuesday, the two recruits decided they had had enough. They crept into the room where their tormentors were sleeping and opened fire with machine guns.

When the shooting stopped, 6 soldiers were dead and 3 others were badly wounded, according to official reports. The two recruits, identified only as Beltsov and Agdashev, then held off an army assault, even shooting down a helicopter, before finally surrendering hours later.

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the barracks murders on the tiny island of Tanfilyev near Japan is how little they shocked ordinary Russians, who long have accepted vicious brutality as an unavoidable fact of military life.

“The relationship between older and younger soldiers is very primitive, almost on a savage level,” said Vladimir Romanov, a retired army colonel who did five years of research on the physical and psychological abuse of recruits and now teaches at a Moscow military academy.

“The root of the problem lies in the broader society, where people have been dehumanized and denied their rights for such a long time. The situation in the army is just a mirror of this. New recruits are treated like they have no rights. Older soldiers feel they can do whatever they like to them.”

FULL STORY HERE In Russia’s Army, Cruelty A Way Of Life

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SUICIDE OR MURDER?

It is suspected that many reported suicides in the Russian Army are in fact cases where the soldiers were simply “hazed to death”. Read about the case of Ruslan Ayderkhanov here The Ayderkhanov Case.

Official letter from the Human Rights group “Memorial” addressed to the president of the Russian Federation Appeal to President Medvedev by Human Rights Defenders on the Death of Ruslan Ayderkhanov

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“The lost boys” – photo series by Heidi Bradner about Russian conscript soldiers in Chechnya, most of them inexperienced 18-19 years olds

Chechnya Grozny Russian soldier boys North Caucasus lost boys

Chechnya Grozny Russian soldier boys North Caucasus

Chechnya Grozny Russian soldier boys North Caucasus war tank

Chechnya Grozny Russian soldiers boys

Chechnya Grozny Russian soldier boys North Caucasus wounded

Chechnya Grozny Russian soldiers boys North Caucasus

Chechnya Grozny Russian soldier boys North Caucasus wars

Chechnya Grozny Russian soldiers boys table

Chechnya Grozny Russian soldiers war

Russian soldiers boys mother

Russian soldier mother

Russian soldier in Chechnya war North Caucasus checkpoint

Russian soldier stands at checkpoint in Chechnya. Photo by Stanley Greene

The currency of passage at Russian checkpoints in Chechnya was often cigarettes. Sometimes it was food to fight off starvation. The Union of Soldiers’ Mothers Committees of Russia joined with Chechen women in Nazran to find their lost sons, often lacking even basic information such as the regiment name. Critics claimed that the Russian army treated its conscripts as cannon fodder or slave labour for officers. Source: theaftermathproject.org

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News report

Two young conscripts humiliated, then physically abused by a larger group in the dorm rooms

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In previous posts you can read about the chaos, brutality, corruption and lack of consideration for soldiers’ safety and lives in the Russian Military.

Torture and atrocities – “In Russia, winning wars has always been a matter of quantity, not quality,” said one conscript. “They don’t even count us as losses. We’re just meat.” A few episodes also describe young “poorly-dressed exhausted soldiers” being sent ahead of the infamous mop up operations to check passports. They warn villagers of the massacre that the “bloodhounds” (Special Forces teams and contract soldiers) are being sent to carry on soon.

Chechnya veterans – How Russia treats its ‘heroes’ – Orders given under influence of alcohol lead to unnecessary loss of young conscripts’ lives; neglect by government, authorities and medical staff; for survivors – the return to a life of extreme poverty, social rejection and humiliation, which means young men’ lives destroyed before they even began.

Russian teen soldier in Grozny, Chechnya - first war

Russian teen soldier in Grozny, Chechnya – first war

Conscripts

Russian conscript soldier

Akhmad Kadyrov museum – Grozny, Chechnya

Akhmad Kadyrov museum is a recently built museum (2010) in the heart of Grozny, Chechnya. It hosts a memorial dedicated to the first president of Chechnya Akhmad Kadyrov (father of current Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov), a war monument honoring Russia’s victory in World War Two (the Great Patriotic War), an exhibition of (relatively new) paintings and other temporary exhibitions.

During the war, all the artistic heritage of Chechnya was destroyed. Museums, universities , cultural centers – all were leveled to the ground by the Russian forces, causing irreparable damage to Chechen national treasure,  cultural heritage and educational system.

 

However, the museum ranks third in Russia when it comes to construction and interior design. Occupying a surface of 14 hectares, it was built with marble imported  from Spain and Iran, and crowned with a half a ton chandelier – which is covered with 20 kg of gold and over 750 light bulbs. In the center of it – an inscription says “Justice will prevail”.

The memorial dedicated to the 1941 Great Patriotic War fought by Soviets against Nazis comes as a contraindication – considering that 3 years later Stalin deported the entire population of Chechnya and Ingushetia to Siberia and Central Asia under the unfounded accusations of Nazi cooperation.

Chechnya’s dead

 

Source: www.rferl.org

*NOTE – Billions of euros are currently being invested in ski resorts throughout the North Caucasus, yet Moscow refuses to invest in a single forensic laboratory in Chechnya to dig up and identify war victims (despite Europe’s offer to cover the expenses and provide all expert needs). In 2008, two mass graves of 800, and 300 victims were found in Grozny, yet no significant measures have been taken regarding this issue*

Chechnya Russia war chechen men prisoners genocide North Caucasus

Detainees under Russian guard in Chechnya in a photo by Adam Borowski that is part of a photo exhibition in Prague called “Chechnya: The Final Solution”

    

  Aslan Chadayev was well-known in his village of Shalazhi, in central Chechnya, for being an avid reader.

He was immersed in a book when Russian soldiers stormed into his house, dragged him out, a shirt pulled over his head, and threw him into their vehicle.

The 19-year-old student was never seen again.

In the 9 years since Aslan’s disappearance, his mother Malika has lost all hope of finding him alive. But she is still desperately searching for his remains.

“As soon as a new mass grave or an unidentified body is discovered, she rushes there. She’s traveled to every corner of the republic,” says Malika’s sister-in-law, Aset. “She’s constantly rummaging in these graves in the hope of finding even just a piece of her son’s clothing. Missing people definitely must be searched for and identified; the truth must be admitted.”

THOUSANDS STILL MISSING

Aslan is one of thousands of Chechen civilians who disappeared without a trace after being picked up by armed fighters.

Rights groups say some 5,000 people are missing from Chechnya’s two wars, which began in 1994 when Russian soldiers marched into that small Caucasus republic to crush an independence drive.

The actual figure could be much higher. Still, there has been no government campaign to find and identify the dead.

Khozha Yakhyaev’s elder brother, Khasin, disappeared during the first war. After a 3 month search for his brother, Khozha learned that Russian soldiers had killed him and a group of civilians with flamethrowers.

He was able to identify Khasin by his teeth and bury him, together with the other, unidentified victims.

Khozha has since laid dozens of anonymous bodies to rest. He carefully numbers each grave, writes a description of the body, takes pictures, and stores the clothes of the deceased in plastic bags.

Chechnya Russia war chechen men prisoners genocide North Caucasus wars

“If only there was an opportunity to identify the bodies of those whom we buried in our village,” he laments. “I think many ordinary Chechens would gladly give up their monthly salary to help build a laboratory. I know people who would give their entire savings for this. That’s how badly this lab is needed in Chechnya.”

Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechnya’s powerful Kremlin-backed leader, has himself vowed to help the families of those who have disappeared find out about their loved ones.

These hopes, however, were quashed this month when Russia’s Health and Social Development Ministry rejected Chechnya’s request for a forensic lab, dismissing the project as too expensive.

International rights groups and agencies such as the Council of Europe have repeatedly urged Russia to speed up work on identifying bodies exhumed in its war-battered republic, and have pledged support.

Systematic forensic work could also raise uncomfortable questions for the Kremlin about the Russian Army’s actions in Chechnya.

Unlike some other postwar countries, Russia has yet to prosecute war crimes in Chechnya.

GROZNY BUILT ON BONES

The problem of identifying the dead is becoming all the more pressing as workers regularly stumble upon graves amid an oil-fuelled construction boom in the Chechen capital, Grozny.

A soldier stands over a mass grave in Chechnya in a photo by Adam Borowski that is part of the "Chechnya: The Final Solution" exhibition.

A soldier stands over a mass grave in Chechnya in a photo by Adam Borowski that is part of the “Chechnya: The Final Solution” exhibition

 

This summer alone, 2 huge mass graves were discovered containing a total of about 1,100 bodies.

Rights groups say there are dozens more known but unopened graves in fields, courtyards, and basements throughout Chechnya.

But Russia so far has focused its efforts on giving the capital a facelift that it can exhibit as a symbol of peace and stability. Grozny this year proudly inaugurated a brand new mosque, the country’s largest, with room for 10,000 worshipers.

To keep up with the frantic reconstruction pace, workers build around and often over graves, or quietly rebury bodies elsewhere.

Muhidin Tabakovic, from the Sarajevo-based International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), says this practice seriously compromises the identification process.

“The bodies in graves may have personal belongings such as wallets, identification cards, family photographs that can help identification,” says Tabakovic, who has directly participated in the exhumation of mass graves in former Yugoslavia. “Digging up bodies and reburying them in other locations causes huge problems because construction workers are not familiar with the whole process of excavation of human remains. The bones get mixed up and it’s then impossible to determine which bones belong to which bodies.”

The organization’s DNA-assisted identification program, the world’s largest, has already helped identify more than 14,000 people who disappeared in the 1990s Balkan wars, regions struck by natural disasters such as the 2004 tsunami in Thailand, the 2005 Katrina hurricane in the United States, or the mass executions in Chile under dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Tabakovic has no doubt the ICMP, which receives funding from almost 20 governments, would be ready to prove technical and financial support in identifying Chechnya’s dead.

“Exhuming bodies from mass graves makes it possible to reveal inhuman treatment. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia is still active and everything we do is directly related to these people sitting in The Hague,” says Tabakovic. “This is why the Russian government is finding excuses, saying it’s too expensive, which is nonsense. It’s not about money. It’s about truth, about what really happened, and who is responsible for it.”

The Kremlin’s European “alibi”

source: Prague watchdog (read full article here)

chechnya russia war chechen children north caucasus people chechen rebels

Children killed on April 8, 2004 in Vedensky district of Chechnya

The discussion about the building of a forensic laboratory in Chechnya has been continuing for years now without any hint of an early conclusion.

The possibility of creating such a laboratory in Chechnya was first raised in the reports of human rights organizations in 2000. From there, the debate moved to the Council of Europe, where it became one of the key bargaining chips in talks with Russia.

We recently received a letter from some colleagues in a Spanish human rights organization. Expressing a desire to join in the creation of the laboratory, they were of the opinion that “you don’t need any special investigations to determine the cause of death.” The main task, in their view, is to establish the identity of each of the bodies that is found and to return the remains of the deceased to their relatives. “We’ll help to identify the bodies and bury them, but on the subject of who killed these people, how and why, we won’t breathe a word.”

The letter contains references to Alvaro Gil-Robles. As European Commissioner for Human Rights, he frequently visited Chechnya and Russia and conducted negotiations there. Under his chairmanship, the political problems, the problems of war and peace, and most importantly of all, the investigation of crimes and the prosecution of war criminals, vanished from the agenda of talks with the Russian government. In exchange, the Council of Europe obtained permission to conduct humanitarian operations in Chechnya and set up a laboratory there. The funding for this – 3 million euros – was allocated in 2005.

The laboratory has not been created. Not even the meetings of the newly appointed European Commissioner Thomas Hammerberg with Putin and Medvedev in late April last year were able to break the deadlock. After the routine “yeses” and “of courses” there was no response from Russia’s Ministry of Health on the advisability of building a “laboratory for the exhumation and identification of dead civilians”. The reason for the refusal was a lack of skilled manpower, and of financial and material resources.

If anyone believes that the problem is one of money, they are deeply mistaken. This is a purely political matter. Imagine that the remains of a man are found who upon forensic examination turns out to be an abducted resident of the republic, with a specific name, address and stolen life. At once the question arises: who abducted him?

According to the above letter, the post-mortem examinations should be achieved in a limited and truncated version. In other words, the lab should turn a blind eye to the causes of death and concern itself solely with the identification and return of the remains of deceased relatives. Unobtrusively, the Europeans are being invited to participate in the concealment of crimes.

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Adyghe people traditional costume (Circassian men, women)

adyghe traditional costume men Kabardino-Balkaria Karachay-Cherkessia

Adyghe people (Circassians) are people of the historical  Circassia. In the XXth century, the Soviet authorities divided the historic region into different republics  – Adygea, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia. The Soviet authorities also divided the unitary Circassian ethnicity into different categories: Kabardins (Kabardino-Balkaria), Cherkess (Karachay-Cherkessia), Adyghe (Adygea republic).

A significant part of the Adyghe population was killed during the Russian-Circassian war, and other Circassians were displaced to the Middle-East following forced migration.

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Below is a rare first-hand outlook on the Circassians, as seen by a British traveler in the 1830’s (before the expulsion of Circassians from the Caucasus).

Click on link Tales of travellers; A view of the world (published in 1838)

Extract

“The Circassians, who dwell in the mountain valleys, are a martial people, trained from infancy in the midst of arms and early habituated to systematic plunder, their exploits in which confer renown. The sole pursuit of the Circassians is predatory war against their neighbors: hence their courage, though individually unquenchable, and formidable in masses, is undisciplined. 

The warlike qualities are kept alive, moreover, by the incidents attending the political division of Circassians into distinct tribes, jealous of, and often at variance with, each other, which produces feuds, inroads, reprisals, all of which are esteemed honorable. Slaves are one of the principal objects of their barter-trade with the Turks. […]

The nation is now considered to consist of 10 principal states or tribes, compromising a population of about 2 millions. These tribes, though not bound by any federal policy, but existing in a state of mutual repulsion, sacrifice all feuds and jealousies, and unite as in one common cause, when the independence of their country is threatened from without.”

The “warlike quality” and the deadly feuds between tribes were a common feature of Caucasus population, being also found among Chechens, Ingush, Georgians etc.

Chechens and Ingush had their unique solid Nakh towers, which were built specifically  as a refuge not only from invaders, but also from their fellow tribesmen during their deadly feuds.

wedding-costumes circassia

Rural slavery was common among Circassians. After the Russian expulsion, Circassian women were sold as sex slaves by Circassian men to the Ottoman empire, when the term of “Circassian beauties” was born.

Read more on the subject in a rare 1856 article Horrible Traffic in Circassian Women—Infanticide in Turkey,” New York Daily Times, August 6, 1856

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Costumes were made of fabrics woolen and animal skin. More sophisticated fabrics appeared after year 1900.

Dagestan traditional costumes ~ Dagestani people

Dagestan is the most diverse region in the Caucasus. with 8 different Caucasian natives and other ethnic groups living on its territory. Native Caucasians living in Dagestan belong to the Northeast Caucasian family. The Avars represent the largest ethnic group.

Dagestani youth dance group rehearsing for the Venice 2013 carnival