Issue No. 270 - April 30, 2002


            By Paulyuk Bykowski

            By Mustafa Hajibeyli


    The situation in Grozny, the capital of the Chechen Republic,
remains dire. The city's population is uneasy over rumors that the
military units of Khattab will attempt to take over part of Grozny
in the last weeks of April. The city has been deluged by Russian
soldiers and policemen, and the number of temporary block-posts
has risen considerably in different regions of Grozny. Document
checks and car inspections have also been tightened. Mop-ups are
regularly carried out in different areas of the city: in the
Lenin, October, and Factory districts, and in the suburbs. During
the day, mobile Russian military detachments seal off first one,
then another micro-district of Grozny, checking all entering and
departing vehicles and checking for Grozny residence permits on
every male. In the morning hours, Russian soldiers surround
multi-story homes and apartment buildings, performing searches and
checking documents. All suspects (primarily men from the ages of
16 to 45) are arrest nd taken to the commandant's headquarters.
The soldiers arrest not only those who are unregistered in Grozny,
but also those who are not living in the place where they are
registered, as if it were possible to speak of some kind of
registered residence when three-fourths of the city's living
quarters lie in ruins. The fate of the detainees -- who is freed,
who is released, who is cruelly beaten, and who disappears without
a trace -- depends on luck. To a large extent, all of this depends
not on the affiliation of the detainees with military units, but
on pure happenstance. The university district, where a pedagogical
institute and two middle schools are located, is regularly
subjected to mop-ups and provocations by Russian soldiers. At the
beginning of the war, several students and school children were
killed here, and tens more were arrested.
    The mop-ups are being carried out also in the suburbs and the
Grozny village district. Populated areas surrounded by Russian
armed vehicles and soldiers have become part of the usual scenery
in Chechnya. The roads to the mountainous districts of
Nozhaiiurtovskii and Vedenskii are closed.
    Officials in the Russian army have long talked of the
extremely low effectiveness of such measures, which they dub
"passport regime control." In fact, the "mop-ups" have turned into
genuine terror against the civilian population of Chechnya. They
are accompanied by theft, marauding, and extortion. More than 90%
of those arrested during the mop-ups have no relation whatsoever
to the separatist fighters. In the best case scenario, relatives
buy them back, barely alive, beaten and crippled. Often, however,
relatives find the arrestees' disfigured bodies, and very often
they are forced to buy back even the corpses from Russian
    Landmines and mortal shells periodically explode in various
parts of the city, blowing up Russian soldiers and Chechen
policemen. Peaceful civilians-women, children, and the elderly are
also often killed during these explosions. These blasts increase
the number of crippled war-time children, and according to various
data in and outside of Chechnya, the number of invalids already
ranges from five to fifteen thousand. The majority of them do not
have any kind of support from the government. Their fate and their
health are left to themselves and for the most part, to their
destitute parents. Many of them are in need of prostheses,
operations, and regular medical help. And the healthy children are
not in any better of a situation in the city, where the war
carries on. The explosions of landmines, periodic exchange of
gunfire, and nighttime shooting have a negative effect not only on
the physical, but also psychological health of the children. Not
to mention the fact that they do not ha normal childhood filled
with games and toys.
    After each landmine or mortal shell explosion, the district in
which it happened is sealed off in preparation for a mop-up,
during which innocent people are arrested.
    If just in March the city was relatively calm, then already
today the situation has become much more tense. For the time being
residents are not abandoning the city, but the number of Russian
troops has significantly increased, strengthening their activity,
and there are mop-ups practically every day.
    Although the number of Russian troops in Grozny is continually
growing, this in no way influences the criminal situation. Murders
on criminal grounds are committed almost every day in the city, as
are robberies, thefts, and widespread looting. The drug trade is
    By day Grozny is fairly quiet-from time to time, shots at the
block-posts are heard from soldiers firing into the air, trying to
impose order on what they view as undisciplined drivers. By night,
particularly after midnight, shooting from all types of weapons
begins in the city: everything starts with automatic gunfire,
which is then replaced by mortar and artillery shelling. This
barrage continues until dawn.
    According to various data, there are from 250,000 to 300,000
residents in the city. Almost 80% of the able-bodied city
residents (up to 90% throughout the republic) are unemployed and
do not have any means of subsistence. Various sources report that
the more or less regular humanitarian help reaches only 30-50% of
the population of Grozny.
    But as before, there has been no progress toward renovation of
the city. The city lies in ruins. Over the last two years, dozens
of homes that were partially destroyed and awaiting renovation
have been dismantled and their bricks sold. Tall buildings were
blown up and turned into heaps of rubble in the district of
"Minutka" Square. Russian soldiers, who barely even suffered
during the combat operations on the homes, explained this
barbarous destruction by alleging that the roofs provided
convenient positions for Chechen snipers. The majority of these
homes belonged to the buildings of the old quarter and constituted
the city's historic look. Homes and apartments remain unheated.
Instead of glass in the windows there are polyethylene sheets,
which lets light in poorly and does not retain heat. On the inside
everything is covered with soot and the walls are dirty,
dilapidated, and very often damp, since in the majority of homes
the roof leaks.
    There is no electricity or water. From time to time the gas is
turned off. The city's residents not only live in cold apartments
but also cannot cook. In the words of a representative of the
interim administration, very little of the funds to restore Grozny
have been handed out and their use depends on Moscow officials and
the government of Chechnya. Therefore, the position of the Russian
government is very strange: on the one hand, its representatives
speak of the need to return refugees to Chechnya, but on the
other, it has done practically nothing to restore the Chechens'
living quarters in Grozny. The majority of refugees in the tent
camps in Ingushetia are residents of Grozny.
    The city is completely unsanitary. The streets of Grozny are
piled with building rubble and food waste matter, and all of the
streets are flooded with water, including from the city's sewage
system.  Road workers who sweep the ruined roads from among the
wreckage amaze the residents and passers-by.
    It is particularly dirty in the city's central market, the
only place where the residents of Grozny and the surrounding
villages can buy food products. The fruit, bread, and meat
merchants sell their goods among piles of accumulated trash, which
are literally teeming with stray dogs and cats. In the city there
is thus a very high danger of an outbreak of dangerous diseases.
Sanitation-epidemiological services were established in Grozny
long ago, but they have not yet fulfilled their functions. The
drinking water poses no less a danger to the health of the
residents. In the majority of the city's districts people carry
water from wells that are usually located 500 meters from their
homes. Water in such wells often contains large traces of benzene
deposits and is often mixed with sewage water. The use of such
water in food is very dangerous for people's health, but in Grozny
there has been no talk about a supply of clean and uncontaminated
drinking water. In the northern regions of t ity water is brought
in cisterns and people must buy it after waiting in long lines.
    The situation with medical care for Grozny's population has
not improved. The majority of hospitals and clinics lie in
shambles or are undergoing repair. Stationary medical care of
patients is impossible, there is no basic medicine, and there are
not enough syringes and bandages. Patients must pay for
everything. In order to receive serious medical care, people must
go either to Ingushetia or to other regions of Russia. There are
enough qualified doctors even today in Grozny, but they do not
have the necessary facilities, equipment, and medicines.  The main
thing is that the war has rendered stationary medical care
    Moreover, there are many patients with serious chronic
illnesses: tuberculosis, tumor-related diseases, asthma, and
others. The majority of them live in arduous conditions without
crucial medical care and cannot go beyond the city limits for
medical help because they have no money. Throughout the republic
there are already tens of thousands of people in need of immediate
medical help, but only a handful of them have the opportunity to
receive it. This is an extremely serious problem for the country,
where the war has gone on for several years. And it is not within
the power of the individual humanitarian organizations to resolve
the problem without the help of the government.
    The ecological situation remains dire in Grozny. Soldiers used
various types of weapons here during the active combat operations,
including multi-tonnage bombs and artillery shells with various
explosives. Many homes were previously mined, and embedded in the
walls and ceilings of many apartments are unexploded bombs,
shells, and missiles. People often live in semi-demolished homes,
in the surviving apartments.
    There was no expert assessment of the ecological situation
after the end of combat operations, and therefore no one knows the
real ecological conditions. But there was a significant increase
in the number of patients with tumor-related illnesses in Grozny,
particularly among the youth. The streets are piled high with
building rubble and various kinds of waste matter, all of which
gives off poisonous fumes, particularly in warm weather.
    The crude extraction and processing of oil deposits causes
enormous damage to the environment and people's health. Russian
soldiers periodically set fire to the oil wells under the pretense
of fighting the crude production of benzene, and for several days
afterward the streets of the city are obscured by acrid, black
smoke. In fact, there are no regular protests against the
production and selling of crude benzene, and many people who are
unaware of what they are doing are slowly killing both themselves
and the environment.
    There are international humanitarian organizations working in
the city: the International Red Cross, the Danish Refugee
Committee, the Polish humanitarian action, and the Czech
organization  "People in Need." The International Red Cross is
helping mainly the elderly and invalids through food, everyday
necessities, and medicine. The Danish Committee is giving out food
and building materials to residents. The rest are handing out food
and also various everyday necessities. However, their help is
obviously not enough in guaranteeing even basic necessities for
the city's residents, who have been deprived of everything in the
course of the war.
    * DISPATCHES FROM CHECHNYA no. 23 published by LAM - Center
for Pluralisam , Grozny /Nazren and IDEE , Washington

                                    * * *
    By Paulyuk Bykowski

    By mid-April, the OSCE (Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe) Advisory and Monitoring Group in Belarus
lost its leader for the second time in a year.  The term of Dr.
Hans-Georg Wick expired January 1 and Belarussian authorities did
not agree to the appointment of a new OSCE emissary.  Then, on
April 15, the visa of acting head of mission Michel Rivollier
was denied an extension of his visa.  Minsk is officially
insisting that the mandate of the OSCE mission be reexamined, or
else that the mission be closed.
    The current chairman of the OSCE (Organization for Security
and Cooperation in Europe), Portuguese foreign minister Antonio
Martins da Cruz, has expressed his concern at the denial of a visa
extension and diplomatic accreditation to acting head of the OSCE
Advisory and Monitoring Group in Belarus Michel Rivollier.
Consultations are now being held within the OSCE on the long-term
program of the Advisory and Monitoring Group.  The hasty decision
on the status of the acting head of that group has undoubtedly had
a negative impact on those consultations," he said.  He continued on
to say that that decision impedes the group's proper functioning and
could lead to a serious deterioration in relations between the
OSCE and Belarus, with appropriate measures to be taken.
    Rivollier left Belarus and the OSCE mission is now being
headed by political adviser Andrew Carpenter, who was previously
responsible for press relations.  Rivollier refused to comment on
the situation before his departure.  "At this time, according to
diplomatic practice, I cannot comment on questions related to
diplomatic relations," he said.
    The OSCE Advisory and Monitoring Group began work in Belarus
in February 1998.  It was headed by German diplomat Hans-Georg
Wick, who saw his main task as the removal of so-called
"constitutional contradictions" that had arisen after the November
1996 referendum to alter the constitution.  The world community at
that time refused to acknowledge the results of that referendum
and major international organizations joined the Belarussian
opposition in claiming that the changes in the Belarussian
constitution and the dissolution of the 13th Supreme Council were
enacted illegally by Alexander Lukashenko.
    Belarussian authorities, fearing international isolation,
agreed to the opening of an OSCE mission in Minsk, which became
known as the Advisory and Monitoring Group.  The Belarussian
government and the OSCE Advisory and Monitoring Group signed a
memorandum according to which the group is to "engage with
Belarussian authorities in the forwarding of democratic
    It was just such an engagement that led to contention.
Bureaucrats from Lukashenko down to the lowliest foreign ministry
clerk began calling the mission "opposition headquarters" because
it not only monitored the Belarussian domestic situation, it held
conferences to find ways out of the "constitutional
contradictions."  Then Minsk began demanding a reexamination of
its mandate, although the OSCE refuses to discuss the ultimatum.
    It is curious that neither the authorities nor the opposition
especially liked Wick.  Opponents of the regime in Belarus thought
that the mission was trying to legalize the "criminal regime of
    Now it is clear that the problem will solve itself.  One by
one, visas of the foreign staff of the OSCE mission will expire
and the mission will close on its own.
                                * * *
    By Mustafa Hajibeyli

    On April, 27 citizens coming to the street and in the regions
in protest of the head of state's resignation were oppressed.
    On April 27, 2002, the next protest action of the President
Heidar Aliyev's opponents was held in Baku and in several regions
of the republic. Tens of thousands of citizens participating in
these actions have demanded Aliyev's resignation in addition to
demanding new presidential elections in the country. The rallies
were held by the initiative of 30 political parties representing the
democratic camp. The  initiative of the United Opposition
Movement (UOM) also gathered such serious parties as
Musavat, Popular Front and Democratic parties around. The local
government circles refused to authorize these actions and chose to
scatter the rallies through police action. As a result, a clash
happened between the policemen and opposition supporters.
    The most bloody incident happened in Baku. Policemen
and forces with unknown appointments have brutally suppressed opposition
supporters who attempted to enter to the "Azadlyg" square in order to
hold the action. Hundreds of opposition activists were brutally
beaten. Many of them were seriously injured. Over a hundred
opposition activists were arrested. Mirmahmud Mireliogli, chairman
of the Popular Front Party, Arif Hajili, deputy chairman of the
Musavat Party, Panah Huseynov, chairman of the People's Party are
also among the detainees. Though some of the detainees were
released afterwards, tens of opposition activists were put in
    On April 27, there was an attempt to hold a rally calling for Aliyev's
resignation in the Genja, Yevlakh, Lankaran, Gazakh,
Agstafa, Sabirabad, Xachmaz, and Guba--18 regions of
Azerbaijan, and those actions were broken up by police violence,
as well.
    Immediately after the completion of the rally, the chairmen
Council of UOM held a meeting and issued a decision on holding the
next rally in May. One of the opposition leaders, chairman of the
Musavat Party Isa Gambar stated in his press release that the mass
protest actions would continue: "We shall continue our struggle
until achieving the resignation of Aliyev's regime that
appropriated the power through falsification in Azerbaijan and
brought a lot of troubles to the nation. These struggles will
finish with our victory".