Tuesday, May 10, 2022

.High Point of Western Attention to Chechen Regime's Crimes was More than a Decade Ago, Sadovskaya Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 28 – Suggestions that the West is now paying more attention to crimes committed by the Chechen authorities both in the republic and beyond its borders and condemning them more strongly, views arising out of the coverage to that republic in this year’s US State Department Human Rights report, are not true, Olga Sadovskaya says.

            A lawyer with the Committee against Torture, she says that in her view the highpoint of such Western attention to such crimes came a dozen years ago when the European Parliament adopted a resolution (kavkazr.com/a/vidimostj-zakonnosti-yurist-komiteta-protiv-pytok---o-pravah-cheloveka-na-severnom-kavkaze-/31825014.html).

            “In my view,” Sadovskaya says, “2010 was the apogee of attention by the international community to crimes taking place in Chechnya, apparently because at that time it appeared that it might still be possible to change something.” But since then, the authorities have shut down access to that republic by diplomats and activists and hopes for changes have dimmed.

            Occasionally, an issue like the persecution of gays or genital mutilation of young women has attracted attention, she acknowledges; but there is much less information available about the range of crimes being committed in Chechnya and by Chechen representatives outside the republic and indeed outside of Russia.

            Moreover, because of repression, ever fewer people in Chechnya and the North Caucasus generally are prepared to complain to activists. The only exceptions are those who are either beyond the borders of the region or who are prepared to move there. “This is connected not with international attention but with concerns about personal security.”

            This lack of increased attention is especially unfortunate because the problems in Chechnya have metasticized throughout Russia and even beyond. Indeed, Sadovskaya says, “the Chechenization of Russia is progressing,” Sadovskaya says. Conditions that were true only of Chechnya are now true elsewhere because officials and police are afraid of Kadyrov.

            Formally, even the siloviki in Chechnya are subordinate to federal agencies; but in fact, they work for Kadyrov. And beyond the republic’s borders, Moscow decides whether to impose its control or allow the Chechen leader to act on his own, whichever is more useful to the center’s purposes.

            Those rights activists who try to monitor this are generally fearless. They know the risks they face, Sadovskaya says. As a result, in recent year, the Putin regime has put more pressure on the population so that its members won’t tell the activists anything. Only those who have left or can leave are thus willing to talk about abuses.

            That is why there are fewer complaints. It isn’t because things are getting better or Western attention is increasing.

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