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  • Author: Lawrence Uzzell
  • Publication Date: 03-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: North Caucasus Weekly (formerly Chechnya Weekly), The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: Moscow journalist Anna Politkovskaya has made a stunning discovery in the suburbs of Chechnya, one comparable to the 1999 scandal in which secret police of Russia's Federal Security Service (the FSB, which is the renamed. but not reformed. KGB) were caught planting explosives in a Ryazan apartment building. As she wrote in the March 24 issue of Novaya gazeta, “during the entire war in Chechnya rumors have circulated about how the federals are planting mines and organizing provocations which they then attribute to the guerrillas. But only now has it become possible to confirm these rumors with documentary evidence.”
  • Topic: Security, Ethnic Conflict
  • Political Geography: Russia, Moscow
  • Author: Lawrence Uzzell
  • Publication Date: 03-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: North Caucasus Weekly (formerly Chechnya Weekly), The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: The administration of Russian President Vladimir Putin and its allies in Grozny are clearly counting on a big win in Saturday's (March 22) referendum. Putin aide Sergei Yastrzhembsky said that “the appearance of voters in Chechnya is traditionally high,” and the Russian media have been circulating forecasts that at least two-thirds of the republic's population will cast votes.
  • Topic: Security, Ethnic Conflict
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Lawrence Uzzell
  • Publication Date: 03-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: North Caucasus Weekly (formerly Chechnya Weekly), The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: The Russian authorities and their allies in Chechnya are actively trying to create the impression that the March 23 constitutional referendum enjoys massive popular support. Buvaisar Arsakhanov, head of the election commission for Chechnya, told the news agency Itar-Tass on March 11 that almost 10,000 refugees have already expressed their desire to vote in the referendum. Vladimir Zorin, federal minister for nationalities, told a March 10 press conference that “the residents of the Chechen Republic themselves are placing great hopes on the referendum.” For the first time in ten years, he said, they will have the possibility “to express their will for peace and normal life.” (Zorin chose to ignore the 1997 vote, recognized as free and fair by international human rights observers, in which Aslan Maskhadov was elected president of Chechnya.) The pro-Kremlin website Strana.ru quoted Akhmad Kadyrov on March 5 as estimating that 96 percent of the residents of Chechnya are ready to take part in the referendum. That figure is reminiscent of the near-unanimous “elections” of the Soviet years.
  • Topic: Security, Ethnic Conflict
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Lawrence Uzzell
  • Publication Date: 03-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: North Caucasus Weekly (formerly Chechnya Weekly), The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: Russia's highest military award, the order of “Hero of Russia,” has been bestowed on five people for their roles in the Dubrovka Theater hostage crisis of October 2002. But a member of the federal Duma learned that only two of these medals went to soldiers who actually took part in the storming of the theater. Another two went to top leaders of the secret police, and the fifth went to the chemist responsible for releasing the gas that killed about 200 of the hostages (see Chechnya Weekly, December 17, 2002).
  • Topic: Security, Ethnic Conflict
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Lawrence Uzzell
  • Publication Date: 02-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: North Caucasus Weekly (formerly Chechnya Weekly), The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: Reversal on voting rights for Chechen refugees? In an apparent reversal, the head of the Moscow-appointed Chechen government told a Grozny press conference on February 25 that only voters physically present in Chechnya will be allowed to cast ballots in next month's constitutional referendum. Akhmad Kadyrov said that no polling stations would be open outside Chechnya's boundaries. He thus seemed to be indicating that tens of thousands of Chechen refugees in neighboring Ingushetia will be able to vote only if they return to war torn Chechnya. A report by the Russian news agency Novosti said that “according to Mr. Kadyrov, all wishing to vote can come to Chechnya and vote there.” If the Novosti report is accurate, it means that Kadyrov has broken his recent pledge to the visiting human rights commissioner of the Council of Europe. He had announced his support of the March referendum after Kadyrov assured him that the refugees in Ingushetia would be allowed to take part.
  • Topic: Security, Ethnic Conflict
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Lawrence Uzzell
  • Publication Date: 02-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: North Caucasus Weekly (formerly Chechnya Weekly), The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: Kremlin admits constitution flawed. The Putin administration's in-house human rights advisers admit that its proposed constitution for Chechnya has serious flaws. Human-rights ombudsman Oleg Mironov told Radio Liberty on February 4 that the proposed text gives the president of the Chechen republic too much power at the expense of the legislature. Ella Pamfilova, head of the president's human rights commission, expressed concern about the power granted to the president of the Russian Federation to dismiss the president of Chechnya. Nevertheless, the two have chosen not to challenge Putin on what has become the centerpiece of his Chechnya strategy: going ahead with the constitutional referendum on March 23.
  • Topic: Security, Ethnic Conflict
  • Political Geography: Russia