RealNews

Memorial Sees More Terror in Chechnya

Respected human rights organization Memorial warned on Thursday that the planned constitutional referendum in Chechnya won’t reflect the will of the people, saying it has documented an increase in kidnappings and disappearances linked to federal troops. “We think the conditions are not right for holding the referendum in Chechnya,” said Memorial head Oleg Orlov, who recently returned from a fact-finding trip to Chechnya ahead of the March 23 vote. “We are seeing an increase in terror on the eve of the referendum,” he told reporters. “Is [the referendum] the reason for the campaign of terror? If so, it has achieved its goal. In the run-up to the referendum, the population is very intimidated.” The Kremlin is touting the referendum, to be followed by the election of a president and a parliament, as a key element in the peace process. If approved, the constitution would be subordinate to federal law. Memorial said it is alarmed by the growing number of kidnappings and disappearances of people, some of whom are carried away by masked soldiers on armored personnel carriers without license plates and others by Chechen gunmen. Although some cases are investigated and suspects are brought to trial, most are not even registered by law enforcement officials, it said. Full Story

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