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Chechen Village Sends Out Call for Help

Published: March 12, 2002 (Issue # 752)


MOSCOW - After seeing 82 residents killed or vanish, the Chechen village of Tsotsin-Yurt has signed an appeal urging the West to prevent the "mass extermination of Chechens" by Russian troops, a Chechen organization said Monday.

The Chechen National Salvation Committee, which backs rebel Chechen leader Aslan Maskhadov, said that 700 residents of Tsotsin-Yurt in the Kurchaloi district had signed the petition detailing the deaths of 82 villagers during the ongoing Chechnya conflict, and that it would forward the letter to human-rights activists at the United Nations, the Council of Europe and Human Rights Watch.

"We ask you to help us to stop the genocide against our nation and, as a first step, to send international observers to Chechnya," said the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The St. Petersburg Times.

Of the people listed, 41 died or disappeared during so-called mopping-up operations in the village. More than 20 died of wounds inflicted by gunfire or bombings, five were killed at checkpoints and six were tortured to death, the letter said. In addition, 12 people were picked up for questioning in their homes, some as long as two years ago, and have yet to return.

Ruslan Badalov, head of the Chechen National Salvation Committee, said Tsotsin-Yurt villagers brought the letter to his office in Nazran, Ingushetia, on Saturday.

They told him they were holding a round-the-clock protest against the violence in their village "for the third week running."

The letter also outlines incidents of alleged military brutality, including one described by Novaya Gazeta reporter Anna Politkovskaya after a visit to the village last month. According to the letter and Politkovskaya, federal troops killed five people, including a pregnant woman, near Tsotsin-Yurt on Feb. 4 and burned the corpses. Two of the people were Tsotsin-Yurt residents.

The Federal Security Service, which is overseeing what it calls "the counter-terrorist operation" in Chechnya, could not immediately comment.

Lecha Yakhyayev, spokesman for the pro-Moscow Chechen administration, said the letter "blows the situation out of proportion" and that it would be difficult to prove the individuals mentioned were all peaceful civilians.

"Some of them could have been fighters who were killed when they tried to escape," he said by telephone from Grozny.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBA’s ongoing “Breakfast with the Director” series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at “Sounds of the Universe,” a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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