Staunton, September 25 – Many opposition figures in the Russian capital have comforted themselves with the idea that the authorities will never use the repressive tactics they routinely employ in the North Caucasus and other regions far from the capital because of the presence of media outlets and Western embassies.
But Oyub Titiyev, the head of the Grozny office of the Memorial human rights organization, says that assumption is no longer valid and that increasingly the Russian powers that be are using tactics they have developed and perfected in the North Caucasus against the opposition in the capital (mbk-news.appspot.com/sences/oyub-titiev-to-chto-praktiko/)
That means that opposition groups in the capital cannot afford to ignore or fail to protest what Moscow is doing elsewhere but can very much expect that what the powers that be have been doing in the North Caucasus will soon be visited upon Muscovites as well, the activist tells Zoya Svetova of MBK news.
“Chechnya,” Titiyev says, has long been “a testing site” for the regime. We have seen how much cruelty there was by the police during the protest actions in Moscow in August and September. That which was practiced in the Caucasus has now come to Moscow. And this will in the future spread throughout all of Russia.”
“It is impossible to stop,” he continues. The regime has tested various methods to see which ones work and how people respond; and it is prepared to be increasingly cruel and harsh because “there are people who consider that only by such measures is it possible for them to hold power.”
This has become possible because of the two wars in Chechnya. Moscow got away with what it did there, and so it continues to use the same tactics. There aren’t any protests in Chechnya now and won’t be any because the regime has shown that it will act with force and those who even think about demonstrating will disappear.
Most of Titiyev’s 4200-word interview is devoted to the two Chechen wars, the actions of heroic journalists like Politkovskaya and Estemirova, and his own work in that North Caucasus Republic. Unfortunately, he acknowledges, it is simply too dangerous for human rights workers to remain in Chechnya and he has closed the Memorial office there.