I  N  T  E  R  E  T  H  N  I  C
News archive of Center for Interethnic Cooperation
Back to the archive of CIC
News



Again peaceful citizens flee from Chechnya to Dagestan


Less than a year after the attack on Ingushetia by militants the Chechen problem has again crossed the borders of the republic this time the border to Dagestan. About a thousand ethnic Avars who live in the Cossack village Borozdinovskaya were frightened by cruel ethnic cleansing and left their homes. Seeking help, they fled to the territory of Dagestan. The authorities of Dagestan are ready to offer them support, but they demand that the refugees remain on the administrative territory of Chechnya. The refugees categorically refuse to go back

Like this youll run as far as to the North Pole!

The street that leads from Makhachkala to Astrakhan in the western outlying districts of Kizlyar officially leads along Chechnya. The post of the federal forces Kizlyar-4 is located at the western side of the road, blocking the turn-off to Borozdinovskaya it turns out that the actual border moved some hundred meters into Chechen territory. The road from Borozdinovskaya bisects the road to Astrakhan and moves on to the city. Yet according to the pre-war map of administrative regions at the one side of the road Shelkovskoy region of Chechnya continues, on the other side Kizlyarskiy region of Dagestan begins. The meadows and coppices on both sides of the road look exactly the same, but the locals are careful not to go too far into Chechen territory regardless of the post.

Last week the first trucks with refugees from Borozdinovskaya drove by this post. Most of them carried their load on the left side of the road on the Dagestan side. In the meadows on the side of the road cupboards, beds and cradles with babies just stand there in the open air. There are no tents yet only find of them could be found in Kizlyar but between the piles of furniture and personal belongings, which are covered by plastic tape, streets for the new trucks are already taking shape. The refugees quickly build up toilets and say: There is no way we are going back to Chechnya. The authorities of Dagestan are not demanding that, they are just asking the refugees to carry their property across the road. The refugees refuse to do that. Nobody says aloud what crossing the road really means, but everybody knows: If these people cross the road, the administration of Chechnya will be officially responsible for them, for their safety and for the organization of the new little town.

On Thursday evening this debate nearly turned into a serious conflict. Dozens of militia officers from the department of Kizlyar, and also officers from Astrakhan, helping them out for the time of prophylactic measures, moved up to the camp. OMON (Detachments of special designation) troops and soldiers from the so-called SOG (a special fire fighting unit) arrived. Such special subdivisions exist in every region of Dagestan that borders upon Chechnya. When the refugees saw armed people in field uniforms, they were getting in motion. If they start overtaking by force, people will fight, there are no other options, Shapi Magomedov, a resident of Kizlyar who voluntarily became town major, said with an embarrassed smile.

How women and children, who have been hiding from the burning sun in the shadow of their belongings all day, are going to fight OMON troops was not clear. But then the Avar youth arrived from Kizlyar. Soon their number equaled the number of militia officers. Someone said if the militia touched the refugees, the local Avars would raid Chechen villages located on the Dagestan side of the border. Emotions were rapidly escalating. The crowd, screaming in Russian and in Avaran, started turning to a huge red-haired man with a big moustache the chief of the Kizlar militia department Colonel Valentin Ivanov.

Colonel Ivanov has been working in Kizlyar for seven year. Even in the time of Makhadov he was not afraid to go to Chechnya. He rescued kidnapped natives and helped both Russians and Avars who lived there.

You were on our side, and now you are deceiving us! the crowd screamed.

Im not deceiving anybody! shouted Ivanov. Ive been at war since 1991! As an officer and an official I dont have the right to tell you everything I think, but Im telling you this: if you run away from them youll run as far as to the North Pole! We didnt run away when Raduev came to Kizlyar, did we? So why did you run away?

We dont have weapons! answered the crowd. If someone had a weapon they would immediately call him a militant! You would say that yourself, wouldnt you!

Do you believe that yourselves? Do you not live in the Caucasus or what? Youre the ones who try to deceive me! Yesterday, today in the morning and still today at lunchtime I told you that the new cars have to be unloaded on the right side of the road! Why are you still unloading them on the other side? I told you that you have to carry your stuff over there, and I will put water, electricity and corps men over there. Who are you listening to? Youll work together with me, and not with the assistants of your delegates that have come here! Will you have a look at those here who scream the most? I see these faces at every meeting! When they have finished screaming here, they will go home to eat khinkali, but you are staying here! You should better ask every one of them to take at least to families home with him it would be of more use!

At the same time another crowd had gathered in the camp. There Shapi Magomedov and another young, well-dressed Avar, who introduced himself as Akhmad, were convincing people not to give in, not under any circumstances.

Stay where you are so that nothing happens, Akhmad urged. You can see that theres progress yesterday nobody was here, and today theres already television here, there are newspapers, secretaries of State and their representatives. They will help you international organizations, the OSCE and humanitarian aid will be here. The governments of Dagestan, of Chechnya and of Russia are already cornered, they just cant ignore you any longer!

Above the piles of belongings the first smoke from the small stoves rose into the evening sky. In the lilac Dagestan twilight phantoms of thousands of small Ingushetian tent cities loomed, their English posters prepared for the foreign guests.

Even the fascists didnt act like this

There is no way were going back to Borozdinovkaya, some refugee women say. I swear to Allah that I would rather sleep here on the naked earth than go back there. Even the fascists didnt do what they did to us!

According to the natives, on June 4th in the middle of the day about 400 armed men in camouflage battledress on one BTR (wheeled armored personnel carriers) and various cars arrived at the Cossack village. This village consists mainly of Avars, who were resettled from the mountainous regions Tsuntinskiy and Tsumadinskiy in the beginning of the 1950s. The armed men spoke Chechen. Some Chechens lived there with us, and also some of us understand Chechen, one of the villages residents says. And from their conversations they figured out that it was a battalion of Yamadaev. (The battalion East that contains 42 divisions of the Russian Ministry of Defense is located in Gudermes and is submitted to Sulim Yamadaev). According to the eye-witnesses the armed men started to collect men and teenagers from the age of 15.

They were gathered in a school yard behind the village, they were told they would be run through the computer. My husband was there, he told us how they were beaten, how they were trampled under foot. The Chechens from Borozdinovskaya were also there, but they were set free almost immediately, whereas the Avars and Russians were beaten. They were told again and again: This is for you, the first prize. Afterwards we will see how you behave. Then my husband said he would rather have been killed than listening to what these men said. We women went to the school to find out what they were doing there, but they didnt allow us to come near. They shot and fired smoke cartridges. And then, in the late afternoon, other people arrived, with neckties, on white jeeps. We have no idea who they were. They said: Everybodys here, except for Ramzan Kadyrov. They repeated a few times that he wasnt there.

At 11 oclock the men in the school realized that the guards had been withdrawn. They found their passports scattered across the table in the school and hurried to the village, where two houses were burning to the ground. A third house also had been set on fire, but didnt burn down altogether. In one of the houses they found an old man, dying, and in the other human remains were found: In two bowls they took bones of the burned people, jaw-bones, a knee-cap and lips. They sent the remains to be examined. At the moment the people from Borozdinosvkaya believe that two people were killed and eleven more were kidnapped by the visitors. There is some information that the kidnapped people are at the war base in Khankala, but the natives refuse to identify their fellow-villagers on the basis of photographs and videotape recordings. They think that the kidnapped people were killed as well. They took ten Avars and one Russian called Lachko, the Borozdinovskaya resident Magomed says. They say that they checked him it turned out hes visually handicapped. How can he be a militant?

They want to disband the Russian army

The only thing that the natives are sure about today is that it was not militants who smashed up Borozdinovskaya. It cannot be said with certainty who really carried out the first rough cleansing in the small Cossack village that had more or less survived two wars. The presence of the BTR does not prove that it was federal forces, as the paramilitary forces, led by Ramsan Kadyrov, and other regional forces have also been using this kind of armor technology lately. The natives are not totally sure, but they often say that the battalion East organized the massacre. Magomed from Borozdinovskaya explains that in the village there lived a Chechen called Tagir Akhmatov, whose son works in the battalion of Yamadaev. Tagir Akhmatov, who worked as a forester, was killed one day before the cleansing. Magomed thinks that Chechens killed him, but the forces of Yamadaev obviously decided that one of the Borozdinovskaya residents did it, and they came to get revenge.

However, the Yamadaev brothers themselves categorically reject any connection with the incident. The commander of the battalion Sulim is ill, he wasnt there and couldnt have been there, the Russian State Duma delegate Ruslan Yamadaev said. Im here in Chechnya, Im trying to examine this situation. Im checking everything and Im beginning to understand that this is a canard and a provocation, and it is clear where it comes from. East doesnt have anything to do with it. I asked if Khamsat Gairbekov was there, and I was told that he couldnt have been there, that he was busy with totally different things. And anyhow, the people who carried out the cleansing in this village were speaking Russian. When he heard that, after the incident in Borozdinovskaya, the Vice Prime Minister of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, suggested breaking up the battalion East, Yamadaev gave a brisk answer: Its clear that they want to disband the Russian army.

It seems strange that, during the cleansing the unknown men spoke so continually about the fact that Ramzan Kadvrov was not among those arrested. It is also unusual that the refugees should endeavour to tell journalists about it. It is well-known that the Chechen vice prime minister has contacts to the Avar opposition, which has recently made a great effort to discredit the authorities in Dagestan. The oppositional activity in Dagestan started exactly two days after the massacre in Borozdinovskaya, and the situation in Kizlyar can, if it worsens, easily become its culmination.

Theoretically, Ramsan Kadyrov could equally well be the author of the events in Borozdinovskaya, too: for example, his men could have killed Tagir Akhmatov and thus have provoked the battalion East. Especially as Mr. Kadyrov was the one to suggest its disbandment afterwards. It is well-known that the son of the first president of the new Chechnya wants to concentrate all possible influence in his hands. It seems that, in order to achieve his goal, he is willing to quarrel with the Yamadaevs powerful Gudermes clan, which formerly did a lot for the rise of his family, has extensive contacts to Russian soldiers and as a matter of fact guarantees the functioning of the regional branch of the One Russia Party in Chechnya.

A chance for the Dagestan opposition

Yet an even more explicit threat to stability has shown up in Dagestan. Kizlyar, the Kizlyar region and the Khasavyurt region function as a base for the Northern Alliance, a group of oppositional Dagestan politicians that demands the immediate dismissal of the head of the Dagestan State Council, Magomedali Magomedov. Rumors that the Northern Alliance managed to achieve their aim have been circulating in Dagestan from the beginning of June. They were partly suppressed by the presidents plenipotentiary in the Southern Federal District, Dmitriy Kosak, who arrived in Makhachkala on Wednesday to congratulate Magomedov on this 75th birthday. Our chairman of the Dagestan State Council is Magomedali Magomedovich Magemedov, and there are no plans to change this, I can assure you, Kosak stated, already on the ladder of the plane. The local mass media loyally intends to interpret this as a promise not to touch the head of the State until the end of his constitutional term, which means until next summer. But even within the Dagestan administration a pretty sad mood remains after Dmitriy Kosaks visit: the officials consider the version of a pre-term dismissal.

Politicians of the Nothern Alliance - the mayor of Khasavryut, Saigidpash Umakhanov, the State Duma delegates Gadzhi Makhachev and Magomed Gadzhiev and several like-minded colleagues - demand the dismissal more actively than others . The Alliance regularly accuses Magomedali Magomedovs regime of unparalleled corruption and several assassinations of political opponents. The politicians who belong to the Alliance have extensive contacts in Chechnya. In particular the mayor of Khasavyurt, Saigidpash Umakhanov, is friends with Ramzan Kadyrov. In the last few months their friendship has suffered a little, since Umakhanov categorically refused to appoint a Chechen who was suggested by Kadyrov as head of his administration. According to some accounts, at his last visit Ramzan, contrary to usual, even declined to stay over at the mayors house. However, in the opinion of Dagestan political scientists their relationship is quickly being restored.

Meanwhile the situation on the border between Chechnya and Dagestan in Kizlyar is nearly too handy for the Alliance. The officials of Makhachkala in particular the Safety Council Secretary, Akhmednabi Magomedgadzhiev, the Secretary for Internal Affairs, Adilgirei Magomettagirov, and even the Prime Minister, Atai Aliev think that it would be best for the refugees from Borozdinovskaya to return, ideally to their village in Dagestan, but at least to Chechen territory. Yes, ethnically they are Dagestan, but they are residents of Chechnya, the Prime Minister of Dagestan Atai Aliev said. The commission is working, criminal charges are filed. We are not against a resettling, we will always be on these peoples side, but after all we live in one united Russia. We will not permit a precedent of ethnic cleansing to be set! On Saturday the Safety Council Secretary and the Dagestan Secretary for Internal Affairs went to Grozny to try to solve the problem together with the Chechen authorities.

Among other things Dagestans have already demanded that the Chechen authorities pay the Avar refugees compensation for their abandoned lodgings, no matter what the results of the joint examinations will be. Generally the effort to send the people back to Chechnya puts the authorities in a losing position against the opposition that first of all mobilizes Avars by ethnic characteristics. They take the refusal to receive the refugees from Borozdinovskaya as treason in relation to the Avars, whose number amounts to 30% of Dagestans population.

Judging by how fast the earnest-faced young men showed up on the scene, the opposition does have reserves. And if the authorities are going to try to move the people by force, it would just aggravate the situation and possibly lead to a major Avar-Chechen clash. A development of events by this pessimistic scenario would mean a final verdict for the present authorities in Dagestan. The militia officers who are on duty in the tent city also make a suggestion: Why did the whole village take off and move exactly now? Many of them affirm that earlier there were just as brutal cleansings in the village. The majority of the militia officers do not believe that everything that happened could be the result of a well-planned political provocation. They say that the Chechens just wanted to take away Avar houses and their land and therefore wrote one or two false denunciations on their Avar fellow-villagers.

At the same time about a thousand people, the majority of whom have never even thought about secret services or provocations, still sleep on naked earth. Right now, six tents and one cistern of water are the only facilities in the camp at the outlying districts of Kizlyar. The chief of the regional militia department Colonel Ivanov brought water and four tents, one of the Northern Alliance leaders, Saigid Murtasaliev, gave the other two tents. The activists of the Alliance are with the refugees all the time. Also assistants of the State Duma delegate Magomed Gadzhiev were seen among them. Since Friday the Dagestan state television has been ignoring the situation on the border. The refugees bluntly refuse to go home.

[22.06.2005]

Source: yufo.ru

1993-2003
Web-Master


If you have some interesting information about interethnic situation in your region or about activity of your organisation, we would be glad to post it on our website center@interethnic.org