Caucasus Theater

Rights group suspends Chechnya work in wake of murder

Russian human rights group Memorial has suspended operations in Chechnya following the murder of one of its most prominent activists, Natalya Estemirova. The group said its work in Chechnya had become "life-threatening." The office of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov has also announced plans to sue Oleg Orlov, the head of Memorial, for defamation. "I have prepared and will file to court a complaint on protecting the honor, worthiness and professional reputation of the president of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov," Kadyrov's lawyer told the Interfax news agency. (Deutsche Welle, July 19)

Ingushetia: president wounded in suicide attack

A suicide bomber severely wounded Yunus Bek Yevkurov, president of Russia's volatile southern republic of Ingushetia—an assassination attempt that undermines the Kremlin's claim that it has brought stability to the restive North Caucasus. A car rigged with TNT exploded as the presidential convoy traveled outside the regional capital, Nazran. The blast tore Yevkurov's armored sedan to pieces and killed two of his bodyguards. Yevkurov was the third high official to be wounded or killed in the last three weeks in the North Caucasus region. (AP, June 22)

Judge assassinated in Ingushetia

Unidentified gunmen shot and killed a senior judge in Russia's volatile southern republic of Ingushetia June 10, the latest in a series of attacks in the largely Muslim region. Aza Gazgireyeva, deputy head of Ingushetia's supreme court, died of bullet wounds shortly after her car came under fire in the town of Nazran. The attackers also injured several bystanders before escaping in two cars. Investigators as saying Gazgireyeva was likely killed for her role in investigating the 2004 attack on Ingush police forces by Chechen fighters. (AlJazeera, June 10)

NATO wraps up Georgia military training —amid coup rumblings

Georgian and Ukrainian troops neutralized simulated suicide bombers and a "mock mob" at Vaziani military base near Georgia's capital Tbilisi May 31, rounding up month-long NATO-led military exercises that have angered Russia. Troops from two other members of members of NATO's Partnership for Peace program—Macedonia and Bosnia—also participated. (AP, May 31)

Chechnya: Russia ends 10-year "counter-terrorism operation"

Citing stabilization brought about by pro-Moscow Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, Russian authorities announced they are ending the decade-long "counter-terrorism operation" in Chechnya. Russia boasts that violence and terrorism in the southern Muslim republic have been put down—but sporadic violence persists, and human rights groups have accused Kadyrov of using militias to commit widespread abuses against the Chechen people.

European rights court holds Russia liable for for Chechen abductions

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) April 9 issued rulings in four cases ordering Russia to pay a total of €282,000 to compensate six families who claimed government agents abducted their Chechen relatives between 2001 and 2003. In three of the four cases, Dokayev and Others v. Russia, Dzhabrailova v. Russia, and Malsagova and Others v. Russia, masked men clad in camouflage and armed with machine guns abducted five men from their Chechen Republic homes in 2002 and 2003.

European rights court holds Russia responsible for Chechen death

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled March 5 that Russia is liable for the death of an ethnic Chechen at the hands of Russian forces in 2000, finding Moscow in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. The judgment orders the Russian government to pay damages of nearly €37,000 to the victim's wife, Russian national Luiza Khalitova, who brought the action after her husband, Lech Khazhmuradov, was killed by Russian troops while chopping wood.

Seven dead in Ingushetia blast

Four Russian police and three suspected rebels were killed in fighting in Ingushetia, in Russia's troubled North Caucasus, officials said Feb. 12. Gunmen opened fire and then detonated a landmine when police tried to raid a house in the city of Nazran. The blast destroyed the two-storey house, and a large cache of explosives was reportedly found in the rubble. "While cleaning the rubble, we found four 200-kilogram barrels filled with potassium nitrate and with detonators attached. The bomb could have exploded at any time," a spokesman for the Federal Security Service's Ingushetia department said. (RIA Novosti, BBC News, Feb. 12)

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