Russians propose special enclaves for Chechens

CHECHNYA Senior Moscow official appeals to the 200,000 who fled bombardment to return to their homes and live under military protection

A SENIOR Russian official yesterday raised the prospect of Chechen civilians living in protected villages under the eye of the Russian army, to solve the Chechnya refugee crisis.

Sergei Shoigu, the Russian Emergency Situations Minister, urged more than 200,000 Chechens who have fled to neighbouring Ingushetia to return.

The ITAR-Tass news agency said he promised: "The government will guarantee full security to people who return to liberated Chechen villages."

Mr Shoigu said the Russian government was planning to set up well-protected camps for civilians in the northern third of the separatist republic the Russian army now controls. He said there was already accommodation for 30,000 people and appealed for refugees to come to Russian-controlled areas.

A policy of protected camps is being followed by the Tutsi-led Burundi government which is fighting a Hutu rebellion. But the practice, which has led to almost 200,000 people being forcibly moved into the "regroupment camps" protected by the army has been criticised by the United Nations and human rights groups. The civilians are virtual prisoners and few are allowed to work in the fields.

Russia insists Chechnya is a haven for international terrorism and is determined to drive out "terrorists, bandits and warlords" who, says the Kremlin, have made the separatist region ungovernable. But Russia's two- month bombing campaign has killed numerous civilians and forced the massive exodus of villagers.

Chechnya had enjoyed de facto independence from Moscow following a three- year war which ended in 1996. But the Russian government says the republic must return to the fold - by force if necessary.

The Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said yesterday: "Our actions in connection with Chechen and other territories where there are manifestations of terrorism are directed exclusively at suppressing terrorists, not at achieving some political goals."

Chechen civilians on the border reacted sceptically to the Russian offer of protected villages.

"It's impossible to stay in the village; you can't let your cow out," said Tatyana Durchiyeva, from the village of Arshty. "The [Russian] soldiers steal everything ... they drink vodka and trample our vegetable plots with their tanks."

Idris Elgukayev, a village elder in Sernovodsk, just inside Chechnya, said: "When they started shooting, everyone started packing up their things and leaving. No more than 20 percent of people stayed there either because they couldn't leave, they were too old, or they did not fear the Russians." Another refugee, Zalman Magomayeva, said: "They even stole our onions. They took the flour and the cattle. Even if we go back there is nothing for us to live on."

Chechnya is running out of food. Lida Akuyeva, from the village of Samashki, said: "We were so hungry we took a chance and went into a village to buy food but they didn't have any bread to sell."

On Wednesday, the Russian military reopened the main highway between Ingushetia and Chechnya, where thousands of refugees had massed.

Ali Dudarov, commander of the Ingush border guards service, said 2,065 people had been allowed to cross on Thursday. About 1,200 more came by midday Friday. Many yelled insults at Russian Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo when he visited the refugee camp in Sleptsovskaya yesterday.

"You should have better killed us back there," one exasperated woman shouted.

In Russia, the campaign appears to have broad support so far. Muslim Chechen militants twice invaded the neighbouring Russian republic of Dagestan this summer and are blamed for a series of apartment bombings that killed some 300 people in Russia in September.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £26,000

£14000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to continued success, this ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Design Consultant - Kitchens & Interiors

£12000 - £14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This bespoke furniture and inte...

Recruitment Genius: Solar PV Surveyor

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Corporate Security Officer

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This provider of commercial security solution...

Day In a Page

A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works