News/RUSSIA: SLAVES OF SHARI'AH.

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Subject: News/RUSSIA: SLAVES OF SHARI'AH.
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Tue May 30 2000 - 06:48:33 EDT


3-30-00 RUSSIA: SLAVES OF SHARI'AH.
By Olga Allenova and Marina Oborina (Translation).
The former official law-enforcement agencies in Chechnya protected the
slave trade and kidnapping. Rich hostages were held for ransom, and poor
ones were used as slaves or killed. It is clear that the number of slaves
and hostages in Chechnya is much greater than official reports make out.
Federal forces uncover new evidence of slave-trading in Chechnya
Wahhabi fundamentalists from Urus-Martan were the hostage-taking experts of
Chechnya, and Urus-Martan was the center of the slave trade. When the
federal forces approached Urus-Martan, it seemed as though the Wahhabi were
going to fight to the end. But Urus-Martan was surrendered without a fight,
and thus it was safe from "purging" operations and destruction applied to
other Chechen settlements. Russian secret services assumed correctly that
the Wahhabi were trying to preserve their "material base", and that the
cellars of Urus-Martan still conceal slaves.
Recently several members of the notorious gang of Ramazan Akhmadov from
Urus-Martan were arrested. This gang had kidnapped about 20 people in
1997-99. Akhmadov used to serve under Basaev in the "Abkhazian battalion",
and when the war in Abkhazia ended he returned to Urus-Martan to set up his
own gang. This gang became one of toughest in the district, and its
leadership was acknowledged by several other local gangs. Akhmadov himself
wasn't so valuable, but his relations were. Akhmadov's brother Uvais headed
the Urus-Martan Department of the Shari'ah Security Ministry. Evidently, it
was very convenient to work under the cover of this department.
All gang members received licenses from the Shari'ah Security Department
authorizing them to arrest anyone on the territory of Chechnya. Citizens of
Ingushetia were also much impressed with these licenses, as it turned out.
Even in Moscow, Chechen bandits often produced these precious documents.
For example, they made use of them when kidnapping Kirill Perchenko, the
son of a famous Moscow antiques dealer.
Kidnapped people where taken to Chechnya in large trucks, hidden under
packages of fiberglass or boxes of food. The truck safely passed all
checkpoints on the way, due to the abovementioned licenses. Thus Kirill
Perchenko was brought to Chechnya in a Kamaz truck.
Not only Russian citizens were subject to kidnapping. Alisher Ozaraliev, a
businessman and representative of an international charity from Chimkent,
was fooled into leaving the city. Chechens borrowed $1,500 from him and
promised to give the money back when he came to Grozny. Ozaraliev was
simple enough to believe them, and found himself in the cellars of
Urus-Martan.
Meanwhile the Shari'ah Security Ministry in Grozny put on a show of
upholding the law in the republic. Once they even "freed" from Akhmadov's
prison a kidnapped Israeli citizen, Oleg Yemeliantsev from the Bryansk
region of Russia. Yemeliantsev was even shown expressing his thanks on TV,
but soon he was returned to the same cellars, and was finally liberated by
the federal forces only a month ago.
All hostages were divided into "wealthy and expensive" and "poor and
cheap". People like Yemelianov and Ozaraliev were attributed to the first
category. The bandits asked as much as $20 million ransom for them. Russian
residing in Chechnya, mothers of soldiers who came to look for their sons,
and the soldiers themselves were considered "cheap" and used as slaves.
Often the prisoners were used as training targets for knife-throwing
practise. They were also persuaded to convert to Islam in exchange for a
promise that their lives would be spared. The bandits derived special
enjoyment from taunting Orthodox priests kidnapped in Grozny.
Even those who became Muslims were not always spared. In February, when the
bandits were fleeing from the federal forces into the mountains, they shot
dead the ITAR TASS correspondent Vladimir Yaschin, who had earlier been
converted to Islam. The sick journalist became a heavy burden for the
bandits on the road, and was killed. They never thought of burying their
fellow Muslim.
Not all of the hostages could be forced to submit. Dmitry Bobryshev, 25, an
officer from Nazran, was infuriated at seeing another hostage beaten to
death; he seized the bandit's knife and attacked him. The officer was
savagely killed - his head was cut off and put on display in the center of
the camp.
The slave market was situated right in the central square of Urus-Martan,
not far from the office of the Shari'ah Security Ministry. Currently there
is no open trade here, but arms are still sold and bought. As a military
secret service officer admitted, with support from the local population and
indifference on the part of our own law enforcement agencies, the Wahhabi
in Chechnya cannot be finished off.
Original source, Kommersant, March 29, 2000, p. 1.
WPS Inc, Russian Story, Inc.
RUSSIAN STORY
WHAT THE PAPERS SAY 30/03/2000


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