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Chechen Politican Disappears

Published: September 8, 2000 (Issue # 601)


MOSCOW - In a large-scale operation involving armored vehicles and helicopters, federal forces arrested Ruslan Alik hadzhiyev, the speaker of the Che chen parliament, at his home in Shali in broad daylight more than three months ago.

What happened to him after that is a mystery. The authorities say he is not in custody and they have no record of his arrest. But Chechen President Aslan Mas kha dov says he knows exactly where Alik hadzhiyev is - dead in Moscow's Lefortovo jail.

Saturday's announcement by Mask ha dov's press service, which claims Alik hadzhiyev was tortured to death, has attracted the attention of the media, human-rights watchdogs and Chechnya's newly elected deputy in parliament. But the Federal Security Service, or FSB, which operates Lefortovo, continued to deny this week that it is holding Alikhadzhiyev.

Disappearing in federal custody is nothing new for residents of Chechnya. The human-rights organization Memorial estimates that federal authorities have held thousands of Chechens for weeks or months without notifying relatives. Often, bodies are only found later.

But Alikhadzhiyev's case is striking because he is a political figure of moderate fame and was arrested in an operation that nobody tried to keep secret.

On the morning of May 17, federal forces arrived by armored vehicle, accompanied by helicopters, at Alik had zhi yev's house, the Chechen parliament speaker's cousin Visark Dombayev said in a telephone interview from his Mos cow hotel room Tuesday.

Dombayev, who lives across the street from Alikhadzhiyev and witnessed the arrest, said Alikhadzhiyev did not resist.

Dombayev's account matched one provided by the newspaper Kommersant on May 23.

On May 25, Col. Gen. Valery Ma ni lov, deputy chief of the General Staff, confirmed the arrest, off-handedly including Alikhadzhiyev's name in a list of prominent rebels taken prisoner that he ticked off at a briefing.

But in the following months, the record of Alikhadzhiyev's arrest somehow disappeared. State Duma Deputy Sergei Kovalyov sent an official inquiry about Alik had zhiyev to federal prosecutors in Chechnya. In late July, a deputy prosecutor, V.A. Russkikh, sent an answer, a copy of which was provided to The St. Petersburg Times: Alikhadzhiyev was not in federal custody and had never been arrested.

This week, Alikhadzhiyev's name surfaced again when Maskhadov's representatives declared that he was tortured to death in the Lefortovo jail.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 21


Time is running out to see the fantastic creations on display at the 2014 Sand Castle Festival on the beach at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Adhering to the theme of Treasure Island, visitors can wander amongst larger-than-life interpretations of pirate life or attend one of the workshops held to educate a future generation of sand artists. The castles will remain on the beach until Aug. 31.



Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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