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The Finnish-Russian Civic Forum strives to promote cooperation between the peoples of Finland and Russia by supporting civic initiatives for democracy, human rights, and freedom of speech.



Russians Need To Respect Themselves


Teemu Matinpuro, executive director of the Finnish Peace Committee, and Kerkko Paananen, information secretary of the Finnish-Russian Civic Forum (FINROSFORUM), gave an interview to Lyudmila Mamina, editor-in-chief of Kasparov.Ru, about the Finnish edition of Novaya Gazeta, the attitude of Finnish society to Anna Politkovskaya, the war in Chechnya, and the current political situation in Russia. Below, an edited translation of the interview.



A Caucasus Wedding


Weddings are elaborate in Dagestan, the largest autonomy in the North Caucasus. On 22 August 2006, we attended a wedding in Makhachkala, Dagestan’s capital: Duma member and Dagestan Oil Company chief Gadzhi Makhachev’s son married a classmate. The lavish display and heavy drinking concealed the deadly serious North Caucasus politics of land, ethnicity, clan, and alliance. The guest list spanned the Caucasus power structure — guest starring Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov — and underlined just how personal the region’s politics can be.

Dagestani weddings are serious business: a forum for showing respect, fealty and alliance among families; the bride and groom themselves are little more than showpieces. Weddings take place in discrete parts over three days. On the first day the groom’s family and the bride’s family simultaneously hold separate receptions. During the receptions the groom leads a delegation to the bride’s reception and escorts her back to his own reception, at which point she formally becomes a member of the groom’s family, forsaking her old family and clan. The next day, the groom’s parents hold another reception, this time for the bride’s family and friends, who can “inspect” the family they have given their daughter to. On the third day, the bride’s family holds a reception for the groom’s parents and family.


Kadyrov threatens to kill parents of rebels


Reports coming in say Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov's forces have taken more than a hundred people hostage in raids on several villages. The hostages are apparently parents and sisters of armed rebels fighting against Kadyrov's forces and Russia's federal troops in the region.

Reportedly, large detachments of gunmen encircled several villages in Vedeno, Kurchaloy, and Nozhay-Yurt districts in the early hours of the morning of 4 September 2010. The gunmen barged into people's homes, beat up everyone, and took more than a hundred people hostage.

Reports received at noon by Kavkaz Center said Kadyrov's forces took the hostages to the forest to be used as live shields against the armed rebels. Kadyrov's forces then announced by walkie-talkie that all of the hostages would be executed on the spot if the rebels did not surrender.

The abductions are apparently a response to a daring rebel attack on 29 August 2010 to Kadyrov's native village of Tsentoroi, which is heavily guarded by Kadyrov's forces. Authorities have offered a RUB 10mn reward for information about those who commanded the attack.

Earlier, Chechen authorities openly threatened the parents of armed insurgents on local television. Muslim Khuchiev, mayor of Grozny, who was speaking in the presence of Kadyrov's "human rights ombudsman," Nurdi Nukhazhiev, vowed to mete out punishment on the parents.

The Kremlin’s Chechen Dragon


How long can Moscow ignore the mounting evidence against its Chechen puppet?

In the summer of 2004, two years and four months before she was gunned down in the entrance to her Moscow apartment, Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya made a bold visit to Chechnya to interview 27-year-old Ramzan Kadyrov, who had recently become (with the Kremlin’s blessing) the republic’s de-facto leader. It proved to be a harrowing experience. When they met face to face, Kadyrov could not contain his rage at Politkovskaya for reporting on his brutal rise to power, even threatening to have her shot. Politkovskaya concluded later that “a little dragon has been raised by the Kremlin. Now they need to feed it. Otherwise it will spit fire.”

Politkovskaya was all too right. Since becoming president of Chechnya in 2007, Kadyrov has made the republic into his own fiefdom, which he rules by violence and terror. He has also, apparently, had his gunmen carry out a series of brazen killings of his perceived enemies in Moscow, Dubai, Istanbul and the North Caucasus.

Until recently, the Kremlin, which has provided military and economic support to Kadyrov’s regime, consistently brushed off the murder allegations against him. Since April, prosecutors in two separate cases—a murder in Vienna and a murder attempt in Moscow—have for the first time implicated Kadyrov directly. And in the weeks since those revelations, the Kremlin leadership appears to be showing misgivings about its unconditional support for Kadyrov. How these cases play out could have profound effects on the future of Moscow’s Chechen policy.


Tyrannobook Rex


Amnesty International Portugal and advertising agency Leo Burnett Iberia have launched TyrannyBook, a social network dedicated to the surveillance of some of the world's worst violators of human rights. As the name implies, the website is a Facebook clone, and looks almost exactly the same, with the familiar blue giving way to an aggressive red.

TyrannyBook is part of Amnesty International’s plan of getting more involved in social networks, both to gain the visibility inherent to these web platforms and to facilitate the contact between the causes it promotes and the public. The network aims to generate a global consciousness about the countless atrocities that take place across the globe.



Kadyrov accused of murder in Austria


Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov ordered the kidnapping of a Chechen exile in Vienna in 2009, Austria’s counterterrorism department concluded. Kadyrov has denied any role in the killing of Umar Israilov, who was living in exile when he was fatally shot last year.

The Austrian government’s investigators concluded that Kadyrov ordered Israilov's kidnapping, and that the group of Chechens who tried to snatch Israilov from a Viennese street botched the job. One of them shot Israilov after he broke free and tried to escape.

The conclusions, which are based largely on circumstantial evidence, shift the focus now to Austria’s federal prosecutors’ office, which has been preparing indictments. A close Kadyrov aide, Shaa Turlayev, met with two of the suspects in the killing before Israilov was shot.


Chechen officials threaten relatives of insurgents on TV


Parents of armed insurgents in Chechnya will have no rights whatsoever as long as their children continue their armed fight, said Muslim Khuchiev, mayor of the Chechen capital, Grozny. Chechnya's official Vaynakh TV channel carried a report about a meeting on 7 April 2010 at which local officials, including Chechnya's "human rights ombudsman" Nurdi Nukhazhiev, openly threatened the relatives of insurgents.

Speaking to residents of Grozny's Staropromyslovsky district, Khuchiev said: "We will treat you the same way as your children treat civilians. If you think that after the talk you will be able to sit quietly at home, you are deeply mistaken." Zelimkhan Istamulov, head of the Staropromyslovsky district added: "You live on my territory. If you think that from this moment you will be able to live free, to walk around, it is not true."

Source: WaYNaKH Online, 13.04.2010