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Welcome to Hell

The war in Chechnya rumbles on, with reports of increased fighting and both civilian and military/paramilitary deaths in recent months.

This has included renewed heavy exchanges around Grozny and a series of more isolated incidents, including the death of an entire family who were crushed by a Russian military APC and the execution of three Russian soldiers by Chechen fighters, while they walked through a market.

At the end of October Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a 99-page report entitled Welcometo Hell , detailing the torture and abuse of thousands of Chechens who have been detained by the Russian forces in Chechnya. HRW has asked European states to file a case against Russia at the European Court of Human Rights for these and other abuses during the war. The report also details the extortion and corruption by the Russian military - who have been taking bribes from families in exchange for the release of their loved-ones.

On the subject of extortion, reports have also been made of the Russian Mafia extorting money from returning Russian “contract” soldiers - who receive a lump sum at the end of their tour of duty - through muggings, druggings and seduction, taking place on their journeys home.

The situation for refugees from the war continues to be bleak, with UNHCR reporing that an estimated 170,000 are about to spend their second winter living in refugee camps across the border in Ingushetia.

Both mainstream and alternative international media coverage, and the response of the peace movement to the war, continues to be minimal.

The Institute of War and Peace Reporting provides a weekly email news service covering the entire Caucasus region, including news from Chechnya. See http://www.iwpr.net.

Topics: War and peace | Russia