Putin makes surprise visit to Chechnya's Kadyrov after attacks

Putin paid a surprise visit to Chechnya to show support to disputed Chechen leader condemned by human right groups after recent bomb attacks.

Putin makes surprise visit to Chechnya's Kadyrov after attacks

Vladimir Putin paid an unannounced visit to Chechnya on Monday, showing his support to disputed Chechen leader condemned by human right groups after recent bomb attacks across Caucasus.

Central Russian channels showed Prime Minister Putin and Kremlin-backed president Ramzan Kadyrov alighting from a military helicopter at Tsentoroi, the Kadyrov clan's home village in the southeastern Chechnya.

One of the most populous regions in the mainly Muslim north Caucasus, Chechnya declared independency after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 but was attacked by Russian forces in two wars since the mid-1990s.

Still low-level insurgency continues in Muslim states controlled by Russia, including Indushetia, Dagestan.

Surrounded by heavily armed guards in camouflage and with sub-machineguns at the ready, the two men laid a basket of red and white roses at the tombstone of Kadyrov's father, Akhmad, who was killed in a bomb blast in 2004.

Putin showed support for Kadyrov accused by rights groups of abuses.

Kadyrov faces strong criticism from human rights bodies after kidnappings and killings of human rights and charity activists in Chechnya.

His tough methods used against fighters are also under international scrutiny and have been blamed by critics for the spread of insurrection.

Akhmad Kadyrov, like his son, was a fighter who fought against Russian forces in the first Chechen war. He became Chechen leader after dealing with Putin who launched the second war on Chechnya and switching sides shortly.

Amnesty International also said in its 2009 report on Caucasus that so-called the counter-terrorism operation that the Russian authorities declared there gave a green light tohuman right violations by government forces in Chechnya.

In Moscow, some 50 human rights activists held a rally in heavy rain to commemorate Chechen activist Natalia Estemirova, killed 40 days ago. "Kadyrov resign!" they chanted.

"People have become truly afraid to report abuses in Chechnya," Allison Gill, Russia director at the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), told journalists.

"It is clear that the situation there (in Chechnya) has gone out of control ... The government bears the responsibility for the security situation. Obviously there is a lot of fear of the security services and of Kadyrov," she said. "He has got to go."

Bomb attacks

Last Monday, a powerful truck bomb exploded at a police headquarters in Ingushetia, killing at least 25 people and dealing a humiliating blow to Moscow's authority in the region.

Ingush President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, seriously wounded in a suicide bomb attack on June 22, resumed his duties at the weekend.

Suicide bombers on bicycles launched two separate attacks on Friday, killing at least four policemen, in the Chechen capital Grozny.

A worker at Russia's Memorial human rights watchdog, who had worked with Estemirova, told reporters on condition of anonymity: "The situation in Chechnya now, the atmosphere, is simply wretched. It is just awful."

"Putin gave Kadyrov 'carte blanche' to act in whatever way he wants. What is in fact happening is this in turn creates new rebels, and creates militants, who are fighting for both sides".

Reuters
Last Mod: 25 Ağustos 2009, 11:43
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