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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, Dec. 18


Improve your English and knowledge of British culture during today’s FORM lesson at the British Book Center. These free English lessons with a native speaker elaborate not only on grammar particulars but cultural topics as well. Today’s event will discuss the BBC Two documentary “Victorian Farm Christmas.”



Friday, Dec. 19


Test your mastery of parlor games during Game Evening at the British Book Center. Learn how to play a variety of classic, mentally challenging games and use your newly acquired skills to crush weaker opponents. The event beings at 5 p.m.



Saturday, Dec. 20


The city’s Babushkina Park on Prospekt Obukhovskoy Oborony will be invaded by dozens of rocking-and-rolling Santa Clauses during today’s Santa Claus Parade. Not only will they parade through the park but there will also be competitions amongst the festively-clad participants and a musical master class. There will also be a prize for the best-dressed Santa Claus.


Stock up your record collection during the Vinyl Christmas Sale at the KL10TCH bar on Konyushennaya ploschad today. Spend the afternoon perusing the records for sale while listening the classic, clean sound of records spinning out hits from a variety of musical genres and time periods.



Sunday, Dec. 21


TheZenit St. Petersburg basketball team returns to the northern capital this evening for a matchup with Krasny Oktyabr, a Volgograd-based basketball club. Tickets for the game, which tips off at 6 p.m. this evening, can be purchased on the club’s website or at their arena, Sibur Arena, on Krestovsky island.


Satisfy your sugar cravings during Sweet New Year, an ongoing seasonal festival at the Raduga shopping center. Each weekend of December will welcome hungry visitors to taste hundreds of different kinds of desserts made from a plethora of sweet treats. Workshops are open to visitors and seasonal gifts can also be purchased for those rushing to finish their New Year shopping.



Monday, Dec. 22


Pick out the latest fashions as holiday gifts for loved ones or as early presents for yourself during the Christmas Design Sale at Kraft on Obvodny Kanal, starting on Dec. 20 and continuing through Dec. 27. Designer clothes will be on sale every day of the week or you can buy something more festive to decorate the home while sipping on hot coffee and perusing the various master classes.



Tuesday, Dec. 23


Meet Arctic explorers Fedor Konukhov and Viktor Simonov during SPIBA’s and Capital Legal Service’s event “Arctic Expedition” this morning in the Mertens House business center at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. The meeting will discuss the explorers’ ongoing eco-social project and how companies can use the project as a unique marketing opportunity. Email office@spiba.ru by Dec. 22 if you wish to attend.



To have your event included in All About Town, email tot@sptimes.ru



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