Russians detain dozens in sweep of Chechen town

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Russian riot troops offered no explanation when they descended on the Chechen village of Stariye Atagi before dawn on Saturday, harassed sleeping families and detained nearly 60 unarmed men and almost every vehicle in sight, according to residents.

Russian riot troops offered no explanation when they descended on the Chechen village of Stariye Atagi before dawn on Saturday, harassed sleeping families and detained nearly 60 unarmed men and almost every vehicle in sight, according to residents.

The town is ostensibly under Russian occupation, but the Friday raid echoes descriptions by civilians throughout Chechnya of rough treatment under Russian rule. Security has heightened since rebels surprised federal troops with attacks on Russian-held towns earlier this month.

Russian OMON troops entered Stariye Atagi, 12 miles south of the capital Grozny, at about 6 a.m., according to accounts by dozens of residents.

The officers did not say why they were ordered to sweep the village. They only detained men from Grozny or areas in the nearby Argun gorge that have seen heavy fighting in recent days.

When the troops entered the house of Lecha Khadashev, they woke his three children and rummaged through his 2-year-old daughter's cradle for weapons. He said they detained a relative of his, 34-year-old Salambek Adamov, because his passport showed he lives in Grozny.

Adamov is among dozens of refugees who fled fighting in Grozny in recent months to stay with family in Stariye Atagi. Nearly all male refugees in town were arrested Friday.

Bislan Madayev, 24, lost one leg in a Russian bombing raid on Stariye Atagi in December, and underwent surgery in a local hospital. But he is registered in his passport as a Grozny resident, and he was dragged from his sickbed and detained Friday despite medical records and doctors' appeals.

All Russians must have a domestic passport with a registered address, which in the Soviet era was used to monitor and restrict travel.

Isa Magomadov, 20, was detained because he got his first passport last year instead of when he was 16, as Russian law requires. Most Chechens have been unable to get passports in recent years because of Chechnya's murky status within Russia.

Magomadov's mother, Deshi, was sobbing in front of a makeshift jail in the town of Urus-Martan on Saturday, seeking information about her son. The detained men were taken Friday night to Urus-Martan, but it was too crowded so they were kept in canvas-covered truck beds in the minus 12 degree C (10 degrees F) weather overnight, local officials said. Few had warm clothes with them.

"You can't go anywhere without a passport, because you get arrested. You can't go with a passport, because you also get arrested," Magomadov's mother said.

The men were moved Saturday to a jail in Naurskaya in northern Chechnya.

Residents suggested that the mop-up could be related to an attack on a Russian armored personnel carrier near Stariye Atagi on Thursday, but the arresting troops did not mention the assault.

Russian military officials on Saturday would not comment on the sweep.

Zara Gadayeva said troops stormed into her 70-year-old neighbor Suleiman Tasuyev's house and started dancing on beds and drinking alcohol. She said she saw them beat Tasuyev's son with rifle butts, tie him up and arrest both men.

Comments