RealNews

Shadowy kidnappings keep Chechens on edge

It happens every day in Chechnya, and it can happen anywhere: on the packed minibuses that carry commuters through bombed-out city streets, at the outdoor markets dotting boulevards lined with ruined apartment blocks, during prayer at battle-scarred mosques, or in the frail shelter of one’s own home. Masked, heavily armed men in unidentifiable uniforms show up in armored vehicles and demand to see documents. Sometimes, they seem to be looking for a person. Sometimes, they round up and take away every fighting-age male in their path. Some of those they detain come back telling harrowing stories of beatings and torture to family members and human rights groups. Many never come back at all. This is what the Kremlin’s war against separatist rebels has become four years after Russian troops, warplanes, and artillery pummeled Chechnya’s capital into submission: a covert campaign of attrition, pitting shadowy federal forces against a furtive, yet implacable guerrilla army that kills a dozen Russian soldiers each week. Full Story

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