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In most of the "disappearance" cases documented by Human Rights Watch, the person who later "disappeared" was last seen in the custody of Russian troops. These people were detained either during sweep operations or at one of Chechnya's many checkpoints. In a few cases, the detainees were taken away during night raids by Russian-speaking masked men, during raids on markets, or simply retained in custody while visiting a police station.

Relatives searching for their "disappeared" loved ones met with a variety of responses from military, security, and law enforcement agencies. In some cases, they outright denied the person was ever taken into custody, or even that a sweep or search operation had taken place. This occurred most frequently when relatives had no indication as to who carried out the detention, either because the agents wore masks during the sweep or search operation, or because it was unclear what authority, if any, had sanctioned the operation. In other cases, particularly when relatives could confront officials with information concerning the unit that had carried out the detention, officials acknowledged the initial detention, but claimed the "disappeared" person had already been released, tranferred to another facility or to the jurisdiction of another agency, or that they were no longer responsible for his fate. In some cases, officials gave contradictory information to relatives, stating one day that their loved one had been released, but on the next that he was taken to the Khankala military base. In some exceptional cases, relatives of the"disappeared" have been able to receive useful information from military or police commanders or from lower ranking servicemen.

"Disappearances" After Large-Scale Sweep Operations

Military servicemen and police frequently conduct large sweep operations in Chechen villages or towns, with the stated aim of seizing illegal weapons and ferreting out those believed to be collaborating with Chechen rebels. Typically, they detain dozens of men in such operations, many of whom "disappear" without a trace.31 During research trips to Ingushetia in November 2000 and March 2001, Human Rights Watch collected detailed information on two such sweeps: in the village of Gekhi in August 2000 and in the villages of Starye and Novye Atagi in January 2001.32 At least three men who were detained by Russian forces during the sweep operation in Gekhi subsequently "disappeared;" at least five men subsequently "disappeared" after being detained during the sweep operation in Starye and Novye Atagi. In both Gekhi and Novye Atagi, mutilated dead bodies of some of the detainees were later found. As is typical for large sweep operations, Russian soldiers during each of these sweeps detained large numbers of men, apparently at random. Most of these men were released after a few days-often after their relatives provided Russian troops with money, weapons, or ammunition. Human Rights Watch received numerous credible allegations of torture and ill-treatment from men who were detained during these three sweep operations.

Novye and Starye Atagi (January 14 - 16, 2001)

In the early morning of January 14, 2001, numerous armored personnel carriers (APCs), military trucks, and tanks drove into Novye and Starye Atagi to support a sweep operation. For the next two days, the villages were blocked off from the outside world and even travel within the villages was extremely difficult and risky. During the sweep operation, federal troops detained at least twenty-one men, most of whom were released within two days. However, at least five of the detainees "disappeared." The bodies of two of them were found twelve days later at a rock quarry in Novye Atagi.33

The "Disappearance" of Akhmed Zaurbekov and Khamzad Khasarov

At around 11:00 a.m. on January 14, 2001, Akhmed Zaurbekov (age twenty-eight) and Khamzad Khasarov (age twenty-five) were walking from Novye Atagi to Starye Atagi. When they reached the outskirts of Starye Atagi, villagers told them that a sweep operation was under way and advised them to wait on the outskirts until it ended. According to relatives of the two men, who later spoke to these villagers, Zaurbekov and Khasarov decided to wait by the side of road just outside the village.34

Some time later, villagers told the relatives they saw two APCs driving up along the road toward Starye Atagi. When the APCs passed the two men, ten or twelve persons in camouflage uniforms seized them by the arms and threw them into one of the APCs. According to the villagers, the men in uniform did not ask any questions and did not check the identity papers of the young men. The APC then drove into Starye Atagi.

Relatives of the two men found out about their detention only on the evening of January 16, 2001 as the entire village had been sealed off until that time. The next day, Zaurbekov's uncle and Khasarov's mother went to the procuracy, the local administration, and the local police department in Shali to seek information on the men's whereabouts. Initially, police officers told them that the two were at the station and would be released shortly. After waiting several hours, the relatives approached another officer, who told them that Zaurbekov and Khasarov were not at the police station and showed them a list of detainees he said proved this. The relatives subsequently went to the office of the military commander in Shali, who told them that there were no "detainees" there.

Although a contact in the Chechen OMON told the relatives that he had heard that Zaurbekov and Khasarov were at the Khankala military base, they did not receive any reliable news on the whereabouts of the two until a local stone cutter discovered their dead bodies in the rock quarry in Novye Atagi on January 26, 2001.

The "Disappearance" of Said-Magomed Debizov and Iznaur Serbiev

Said-Magomed Debizov and Iznaur Serbiev-two cousins who were both born in 1967-went to work in Novye Atagi at a car repair shop on the morning of January 14, 2001. When the power went off at around 10:00 a.m., they headed home together. An aunt of the two men, Tamara Shabaeva, spoke to several eyewitnesses who knew the men, who told her that soldiers in a military truck asked the two men to approach them.35 When they did, the soldiers seized Debizov and Serbiev by the arms and pulled them into the truck. The soldiers apparently made no attempt to check the identity papers of the two men. The truck-as well as two APCs standing nearby-then drove off in the direction of the Rostov-Baku highway. As of this writing, the detentions have not been acknowledged. Despite having petitioned authorities on their behalf, the parents of Debizov and Serbiev have not been able to obtain any information on the fate or whereabouts of their sons.36

The Possible "Disappearance" of Bekkhan Bargaev

Bekkhan Bargaev was washing his car in a nearby stream on the morning of January 14, 2001. When he saw Russian APCs heading in his direction, he drove back home, the armored vehicles following him the entire way. In a letter to the Shali district procuracy, the local military commander and the local head of administration, Bargaev's mother, Saret Yasodova, wrote that three APCs, which had no licence plates or other identification marks, drove at high speed behind her son's car toward her house.37 Soldiers came out of the APCs and pulled her son away from her, beating Yasodova with their rifle butts in the process. The solders pulled Bargaev from her arms, beat him, and took him away.38 According to Yasodova a military commander told relatives that Bargaev had been taken to Khankala and had confessed to participating in rebel activity. However, as of March 2001 she had not been able to obtain official confirmation of his location or that he was at Khankala.39 Human Rights Watch fears that Bargaev has "disappeared."

Gekhi (August 8 to 11, 2000)

On the morning of August 8, 2000, federal troops-identified by eyewitnesses as military servicemen from the 245th regiment and riot police, or OMON, from Penza-surrounded the village of Gekhi for a sweep operation. A letter from the Khankala military procuracy confirms that a unit under the command of police major Alexander Silantev, normally the head of the Penza province police, participated in the sweep operation.40 Eyewitnesses told Human Rights Watch that armed personnel carriers and soldiers blocked roads and intersections, preventing people from entering or leaving the village.41 Subsequently, soldiers started detaining men, ostensibly to check theiridentity papers. According to villagers, more than fifty men were taken to a field near the village cemetery, where some were severely beaten.42 Most were released after relatives paid money to the soldiers. Human Rights Watch has not been able to confirm exactly how they were killed.

The "disappearance" of Ali Musaev (age twenty-eight), Umar Musaev (age twenty-three)

Two brothers, Ali and Umar Musaev, were detained and "disappeared" on the morning of August 8 after a shootout in their courtyard. Alamat Musaev, their father, witnessed the shooting and his sons' detention, told Human Rights Watch that he was returning home that morning when a Chechen man unknown to him at the time ran into his courtyard.43 Soldiers walking ahead of Musaev suddenly jumped into the courtyard of his home and started shooting. When the shooting ended, the father walked to his home and saw the dead body of the unknown person and his youngest son-alive but with arms tied behind his back-on the ground. The servicemen subsequently put the youngest son in an APC and took him away. The elder son was forced to drive himself, using his own car, to the local commander's office.44

Shortly after the detention of their sons, the Musaev parents heard from neighbors that Russian national television had shown a news item in which two military commanders, Lieutenant General M.I. Lubenets and Maj. Gen. Yakov Nedobitko, said they had found and killed several Chechen commanders in Gekhi, and that the body of a Chechen man shown in the broadcast resembled their son Umar. Musaev's parents obtained a videotaped copy of the broadcast and recognized the dead body of their younger son, whom they had last seen alive as he was taken away in an APC.

The Musaevs searched for their sons for more than a month. Immediately following the detention, Aminat Musaeva, the mother, went to see the local military commander in Gekhi, who, she reports, was absolutely uncooperative and simply denied any knowledge of the detention of her sons despite the fact that Musaeva discovered her elder son's car near the commander's office.45

Several weeks later, Gekhi villagers informed Musaeva that Alexander Silantev led the Penza special police force that had conducted the sweep. When Musaeva confronted Silantev, he eventually acknowledged detaining the Musaevs, but said he was no longer responsible for their fate. According to Musaeva, Silantev claimed he had handed them over to Generals Lobunets and Major General Nedobitko at a checkpoint near the town that same day. He also reportedly told her that he had thought "they" had released the brothers but then added that "maybe your children were taken to Khankala."46

In September 2000, the Musaev's found their sons' corpses in an unmarked grave. A military officer had compelled them to pay for information on the location of the grave. A November 1 letter from the military procuracy at Khankala military base states that the Musaev brothers were in fact taken to the Gekhi temporary police station and that "their trace is then lost, as your sons are not listed in the registry of temporary detainees or in the temporary detention center of the Urus-Martan region."47

The "Disappearance" of Adlan Eldarov

About 10:00 a.m. on August 9, a group of federal servicemen came to the house of thirty-five-year-old tractor driver Adlan Eldarov, apparently looking specifically for him. A relative of Adlan Eldarov, who asked to remain anonymous, told Human Rights Watch that he pleaded with the unit leader, Captain Oleg Efremenko, not to take Eldarov.48 Efremenko reportedly promised to bring Eldarov back in "half an hour." Eldarov was subsequently taken to the field near the village cemetery, where other villagers had also been detained. After their release, these villagers told Eldarov's relative that they had seen soldiers severely beat Eldarov, and that after some time Eldarov was put in a tank, apparently to be taken to the hospital.49 However, as far as the relative is aware, Eldarov never arrived at the hospital. His whereabouts continue to be unknown to this day.

"Disappearances" during Targeted Sweep and Special Operations

Targeted sweep or special operations-ranging in scope from a single household or public place to an entire street or a block-are carried out every single day in most of Chechnya. Twenty-four of a total of 113 "disappearance" cases documented by Human Rights Watch occurred during adresnye zachistki, or targeted sweeps.50 Forces carrying out these operations took steps to conceal their identity: the troops wore masks and their licence plates or other vehicle identification marks were covered or removed. In most cases, the troops did not provide a clear explanation to the detainee or his relatives as to the reasons for his detention. In most of these cases, numerous people were witnesses as the person was detained and taken away.

The "Disappearance" of Akhdan Tamaev (Roshni-Chu, January 6, 2001)

On the morning of January 6, 2001, police from the Urus-Martan temporary police precinct came to the Tamaev home and detained twenty-eight-year-old Akhdan Tamaev, in the presence of a number of family members. Tamaev did not have his identification documents with him at the time, as his father, Ovkhad, had taken some of the family's documents, including Akhdan's passport, to the Danish Refugee Council offices in order to receive humanitarian supplies.51 The police requested a car and then drove off-with Akhdan-to the assembly point for detainees in that area on the northern side of Roshni-Chu.52

Ovkhad Tamaev told Human Rights Watch that he arrived home just minutes after police had departed with his son.53 He immediately drove on to the prisoner assembly point, where he showed Akhdan's passport to the military commander, Gaidar Gajiev, and the head of the Urus-Martan temporary police precinct, Zakhar Kuriaev. According to Tamaev, the commander told him he would "figure everything out" and release Akhdan. However, Tamaev, and many of his relatives and neighbors, waited at the assembly point the entire day. At around 5:00 p.m., the police officers drove Akhdan-together with two other young men, Muslim and Alikhan Malakiev-in a prisoner transport van to the Urus-Martan temporary police detention center. Tamaev said: "We quickly followed the van and stood outside the center until curfew fell." That evening, the Malakievs were released-they had apparently been detained for some typographical error in their passports. Both confirmed that Akhdan had been with them all day.

The following day and for days after, Gajiev and Kuriaev denied that they ever detained Akhdan Tamaev. For weeks, sixty-year-old Ovkhad Tamaev went to the Urus-Martan temporary police station every single day seeking the release of his son. He told Human Rights Watch:

During about the first two weeks, maybe twenty to twenty-five days, I was told, "We don't know anything, we don't know what you're talking about." I told them, "But you saw us standing [at the assembly point] that very day that he was detained, how the women cried and demanded that Akhdan be released." They simply replied: "Prove it."54

Tamaev told Human Rights Watch that the police chief and military commander even refused to accept a written complaint from him. "I had to send letters to [police chief] Zakhar Konstantinovich Kuriaev and [military commander] Gaidar Gajiev through the republican procuracy."55

According to Tamaev, things had changed in late January after he met with Vsevolod Chernov, the procurator of the Chechen republic. After that meeting, a man in military uniform who did not identify himself confirmed that Akhdan had indeed been at the Urus-Martan temporary police station but that he had been transferred to FSB custody. Several days later, Tamaev arranged a meeting with the local head of administration, who also invited Kuriaev and Gajiev, as well as local FSB and police officials. At the meeting, officials finally acknowledged that Akhdan Tamaev had been detained, but gave varying statements about his fate. According to Ovkhad Tamaev, an investigator from the temporary police department stated that Akhdan had been transferred to FSB custody. Kuriaev, the head of the temporary police department, said that he had been detained but was released and that "apparently someone intercepted him." Tamaev told Human Rights Watch that he got angry at that point saying: "What is this, the head of the police and a colonel cannot tell me where he was taken? If he is dead, give me his corpse, if he isn't dead, tell me where he is." None of the officials acknowledged the detention in writing.56

The "Disappearance" of Aslan Dundaev, age twenty-four (Urus-Martan, December 18, 2000)

At around 4:00 p.m. on December 18, 2000, Aslan Dundaev, Said-Magomed Sagaev, Rizan Ibragimov, Tair Timkhaev, and Timur Yasaev were standing, chatting, on Kirova Street in their home town, Urus-Martan. According to Muslim Dikaev, an eyewitness, two police jeeps (UAZik, in Russian) and a minivan-all without license plates-drove up and encircled the group.57 Around twenty masked and armed men jumped out of the vehicles, seized the five men and pushed them into the three cars. Dikaev, who was sitting in his own car down the road, said he could not approach, as the masked men leveled their assault rifles in his direction. When Dundaev's mother tried to approach the masked men, they told her: "If you come closer, we'll shoot."

The three cars then drove off in the direction of Tangi-Chu, where a military base is located. Dikaev told Human Rights Watch that a friend of the five men, who also witnessed their detention, followed the three cars for some time in the direction of Tangi-Chu. However, he was forced to take a side road when one of the cars noticed him following them and stopped.58

Relatives of the five men immediately approached the Urus-Martan administration and the local military commander's office. According to Dikaev, Lecha Mamadsuev, the deputy head of the department of law enforcement agencies for the Urus-Martan local administration, phoned the military base at Tangi-Chu and was told that the five men were indeed there. The person he spoke to promised that the men would be released the next morning.

The next morning, however, Dikaev said, Urus-Martan commander Col. Gaidar Gajiev informed the relatives that the men had been transferred to Khankala on December 18, 2000. The mayor of Urus-Martan then phoned Khankala military base and was told that the men were indeed at Khankala and would be released that day at 3:00 p.m.

Dikaev told Human Rights Watch that eventually all of the young men except Dundaev were released. The four who returned told Dikaev that at around 8:30 p.m. on December 19, 2000, they were put in an APC and dumped at various different locations. One of the men, Said-Magomed Sagaev, said that Dundaev was thrown off the APC before him, but that the APC stopped; Sagaev believes soldiers may have picked him up again. The four men arrived home the next day. When relatives went back to the authorities in Urus-Martan to ask about Dundaev, the local head of Chechen police told them: "You should just be happy that four got out. Just forget about the fifth one."

According to Dikaev, the four men told relatives afterwards that they-and also Dundaev-had first been held in a pit in Tangi-Chu where they were severely beaten. Sagaev emerged with a broken rib. Two of the four men went to the doctor for examination of their injuries. The others were too frightened to do so.

The "Disappearance" of Said-Rakhman Musaev, Magomed Magomadov, and Odes Mitaev (Raduzhnoe and Dolinskii villages, December 10, 2000)

Masked men on military vehicles detained Magomed Magomadov, Said-Rakhman Musaev, and Odes Mitaev on December 10, 2000. Between 6:00 and 9:00 p.m. on December 10, 2000, a convoy of two APCs and four military trucks without identification marks, carrying between sixty and seventy armed and masked men in military uniform, conducted a raid in the villages of Raduzhnoe and Pobedinskoe just west of Grozny. As they drew near the house of thirty-one-year-old Magomed Magomadov, men in the convoy opened fire on a passenger car, wounding the driver. According to a relative of Magomadov, who asked to remain anonymous, witnesses told him masked men seized Magomadov when he came out of his house to see what had happened, and drove off toward the highway.59 The same evening, masked men seized another twenty people from the villages of Dolinskii and Raduzhnoe, including Said-Rakhman Musaev and Odes Mitaev.

On December 13, 2000, eleven of the twenty-one detainees were released from Russian army custody. Five others were released on December 17. According to Magomadov's relative, the sixteen former detainees told villagers that they had been detained at the Khankala military base in pits that were covered by tents. Those released on December 17 confirmed that Magomadov, Musaev, and Mitaev were still at Khankala. Two days later, two more of the twenty-one detainees were deposited in Gikalo village. These villagers, according to the relative, said that Magomadov and Musaev had been separated from the others reportedly because they were observing Ramadan and would not accept water when it was offered to them. It was not clear where Mitaev was at this point. The relative said that all eighteen men who had been released alleged they had been severely beaten.

For more than two months, the families of Magomadov, Musaev, and Mitaev had no information on their fate or whereabouts. On February 21, 2001-after receiving news of a possible sighting of the bodies of the three at the mass grave at Dachny village-the relatives traveled to the site and found the corpses of their loved ones.

The "Disappearance" of Jabrail Alaskhanov (Grozny central market, November 26, 2000)

On November 26, 2000, federal troops conducted a sweep operation at the central market in Grozny. During the operation, servicemen detained forty-three-year-old Jabrail Alaskhanov and "Salman Aslanov,"60 took them to a bus that already contained other detained men, and drove them to an assembly point located in the former circus building (which was on the way to Khankala), where they blindfolded the detainees.61 From that point on, all trace of Jabrail Alaskhanov was lost.

Forty-one-year-old Ruslan Alaskhanov, Jabrail's brother, told Human Rights Watch that he learned these details of his brother's detention from the wife of "Salman Aslanov" who was detained together with Jabrail Alaskhanov.62 She had been at the market herself when her husband was taken away. Her husband, however, was released after six days. According to Ruslan Alaskhanov, the husband told him he had last seen Jabrail at the circus, just before they were blindfolded. After that, the man said, he was held in a pit for six days and beaten.

Ruslan Alaskhanov approached the military commander of Grozny's October district, the Grozny city procuracy and the October district local administration immediately after finding out about the unacknowledged detention and "disappearance" of his brother. None had information on his brother's whereabouts, but all told Alaskhanov that they would activate a search. The Grozny city procurator reportedly told Alaskhanov that he had not been warned in advance of the sweep operation at the Grozny central market in late November 2000 and that there had been unlawful detentions during the sweep.

The "Disappearance" of Edilbek Isaev (Sweep Operation at Starye Atagi Hospital, September 7, 2000)

On September 7, 2000, a group of federal military servicemen detained Edilbek Isaev at the hospital in Starye Atagi. He was never formally acknowledged to be in detention. An eyewitness told Human Rights Watch that he saw men in camouflage, speaking and looking Russian, leading away Isaev on the second floor of the hospital. When a doctor asked the soldiers to explain their actions, they answered that they needed to question Isaev. An offer by the doctor to question Isaev in a quiet room in the hospital was dismissed with the remark, "We have other places for questioning people." The eyewitness saw Isaev being taken away.63

According to hospital personnel, Isaev had first come to the hospital on March 20, 2000 in grave condition-a gunshot wound that had penetrated the skull and a complicated shinbone fracture due to shrapnel wounds. Doctors performed surgery on Isaev twice and his condition gradually improved. Isaev was finally released from the hospital on May 3, 2000. By September 2000, he came to the hospital for twice-weekly check-ups.64 One week after his September 7 hospital visit, Isaev's mutilated corpse was found in an unmarked grave.

The "Disappearance" of Nura Lulueva, Markha Gakaeva, and Raisa Gakaeva (Raid on northern market in Grozny, June 3, 2000)

An army APC carrying about twenty armed and masked men in camouflage raided Grozny's northern market on Mozdokskaia Street at around 9:00 a.m. on June 3, 2000. The masked men detained Nura Lulueva, a forty-year-old mother of four children, her cousins Markha and Raisa Gakaeva and another seven to nine people, most of them women.65 The masked men loaded them onto the APC, pulled bags over their heads, and drove away.

Said-Alvi Luluev, Nura Lulueva's husband, arrived at the market several hours after the sweep and talked to numerous eyewitnesses.66 A judge, Luluev told Human Rights Watch that everyone, including Chechen police officers from the local precinct, found the raid puzzling, as apparently nothing extraordinary had happened at the market that morning. Luluev said that when local police-informed by eyewitnesses-came to the market and asked the masked men for an explanation, one apparently flashed an ID and told the police "not to interfere." The masked men subsequently fired toward the police officers and drove away. Human Rights Watch does not know if anyone was wounded.

According to Luluev, his wife and her cousins had been selling strawberries at the market. He said that such small-scale trade provided his family with vital income as he had been unemployed since 1997, when the Chechengovernment introduced Sharia law. All three women lived in Gudermes, but apparently traveled to Grozny on a regular basis.67

Luluev approached all of the law enforcement agencies, including the temporary police department, the procuracy, and the FSB on a regular basis to find out who carried out the raid and where his wife was taken. However, each of these agencies said they had not carried out the detention of his wife and denied that any special operation had taken place that day at the northern market in Grozny.

On March 4, 2001, Nura Lulueva's brother identified her body and those of their cousins at the Ministry of Emergency Situations in Grozny, where bodies that were recovered from a mass grave near Khankala military base were brought for identification purposes. The three bodies were buried that same evening in the village of Noiber near Gudermes.68

The Raid on Alkhan-Kala Hospital (February 2, 2000)

Federal forces have practiced forced disappearances in sweep operations since the early months of the war, when they were fighting for control of Grozny and other districts of Chechnya. On February 2, 2000, Russian troops moved back into the village of Alkhan-Kala after several groups of Chechen fighters had broken out of Grozny and traveled through it several days earlier. At the Alkhan-Kala hospital, large numbers of Chechens-predominantly fighters-remained with injuries they had sustained crossing a mine field when leaving Grozny. Russian troops detained these people on February 2, 2000. Among those detained was twenty-five-year-old Khajimurat Yandiev. His mother, Fatima Bazorkina, has looked for him since, without success.

Television crews from NTV and CNN present at the Alkhan-Kala hospital taped a Russian military officer interrogating Yandiev. During the interrogation, the officer angrily scolds Yandiev for wearing a Russian army jacket and then tells his subordinates to execute him, saying, "Kill him, finish him, shoot him, damn it."69 A member of one of the television crews told Human Rights Watch that he saw Yandiev being put in an APC and taken away.70 The footage also shows Russian soldiers kicking Yandiev and other Chechens in their wounded legs.

Fatima Bazorkina has not been able to find her son. She did manage to track down several people who were with Yandiev at the Alkhan-Kala hospital at the time of the detention, and who had subsequently been released. None of these people had any information on his fate or whereabouts.71 In a November 24, 2000 response to an appeal to the military procuracy to look for her son, the Khankala military procuracy stated that the appeal had been sent to the military procuracy "without grounds" because "no involvement in the disappearance of Bazorkina's son of particular military servicemen is discovered."72 Despite her pleading to do so, as of December 8, 2000, procuracy officials had not opened a criminal investigation into Yandiev's "disappearance." The Memorial Human Rights Centre has sent the General Procuracy in Moscow a copy of a videotape, shot on February 2, 2000, that showed Yandiev in the custody of Russian troops.73

"Disappearances" from Checkpoints or Roads

Chechnya has a maze of checkpoints74 run chiefly by federal forces where civilians are stopped for their identity documents. In forty-nine of the 113 "disappearance" cases documented by Human Rights Watch, the individual was stopped by soldiers or police officers either at or near a checkpoint.75

The "Disappearance" of Said-Khusein Imakaev, age twenty-three (On the Road Between Starye and Novye Atagi, December 17, 2000)

On December 17, 2000, at around 3:00 p.m., Said-Khusein Imakaev, a dentist by training, was driving to his home in Starye Atagi when masked federal soldiers on the road from Novye Atagi stopped his car. Marzet Imakaeva, Imakaev's mother, spoke to several women who had been traveling in a car behind her son's, and who had witnessed his detention.76 According to Imakaeva, the women told her that Imakaev got out of the car and put his hands on the hood; the masked soldiers, however, reportedly did not frisk him or check his identity documents. They threw him in a car without a license plate. When the women traveling in the next car-at least one of whom knew Imakaev-got out to plead with the soldiers to let Imakaev go, the soldiers started shooting. Two of the soldiers took off their masks and got into Imakaev's car, after which both cars drove off.
The morning after Imakaeva learned of the detention, and on subsequent days, she and her husband went to all of the authorities: the military commander, the police, and the FSB. They all denied their respective agency's involvement in the detention, and denied knowing anything about her son. She told Human Rights Watch:

They all say: "Our people didn't take him, our people didn't take him." "The FSB didn't take him," "the GRU didn't take him," "the MVD didn't take him." You get the impression that extra-terrestrials seized my son.

As of this writing, Said-Khusein's parents have not received any further information on the fate of their son.

The "Disappearance" of Adam Davletukaev (Alkhan Kala, December 18, 2000)

At approximately 2:00 p.m. on December 18, 2000, Russian soldiers detained Adam Davletukaev (age nineteen) and Sula Katsiev as they were crossing a bridge over the Sunzha river in Alkhan-Kala. They drove the two away in military vehicles in the direction of Urus-Martan. According to Razet Mishaeva, Davletukaev's aunt, several taxi drivers standing near the bridge saw the detention and informed Davletukaev's parents.77

Immediately after receiving news of the detention, Davletukaev's relatives went to the Urus-Martan police station and to the military commander's office to seek information about his whereabouts, but were unable to find any trace of Davletukaev. Trips to Urus-Martan on subsequent days were equally unsuccessful. After Sula Katsiev was released on December 21, relatives learned that he and Davletukaev had initially been brought to the Urus-Martan commander's office but that Davletukaev was later taken away. Neighbors and one relative said they saw Davletukaev on December 20 in Alkhan-Kala, in the custody of Russian forces. They believed he was taken to the local military commander's office. However, when relatives inquired there, they were told Davletukaev was not there. Remains of Davletukuaev's decapitated corpse were found in January at an abandoned farm near Alkhan-Yurt.

The "Disappearance" of Adam Abubakarov (Between Urus-Martan and Goity, March 14, 2000)

Officials acknowledge that seventeen-year-old Adam Abubakarov was detained at a checkpoint between Urus-Martan and Goity on March 14, 2000, but claimed that he was released shortly afterward. However, Abubakarov never returned home, and as of December 2000 his parents were still searching for him. The Urus-Martan regional procuracy claimed in a letter to Abubakarov's parents that he was released on March 17, 2000 under an amnesty. In the letter, acting procurator L. Iliushenko stated that "Abubakarov A.I. wrote in his explanation that after filtration he planned to travel to relatives in the village Germenchuk, Urus-Martan district."78

The "Disappearance" of Islam Dombaev, Murat Lyanov, and Timur Tabzhanov (Sadovaya Street, Grozny, June 28, 2000)

On the evening of June 28, 2000, fifteen-year-old Islam Dombaev left his home with a guitar at around 9:00 p.m. to meet up with his neighborhood friends, Murat Lyanov (age seventeen) and Timur Tabzhanov (age eighteen). According to Dombaev's mother, Rashan Alieva, the three young men frequently sat outside in their closed-off courtyard playing songs on the guitar; but on this night they did not return.79

In the course of a search that was started by the parents of the three young men, it became clear that night they had left the courtyard to go to the house of Timur Tabzhanov. As they were crossing the street, officers from the Pskov OMON unit and the OBRON-8 unit, under the command of Ministry of Internal Affairs internal troops, detained them and took them to a local military camp before sending them to Khankala. Rashan Alieva, who started the search for her son early in the morning on June 29, 2000, told Human Rights Watch how she finally learned the details of her son's detention:

Every morning, mine clearers [sapery, in Russian] clear Sadovaya street of mines. That means that soldiers walk down the street with their equipment and with an APC following them. We ran up to them first and asked whether they had heard anything about the disappearance of three boys. The soldiers who walked up front with the equipment told us right away: "Yes, they brought in three boys yesterday-boys with a guitar." I immediately understood from the mention of the guitar that it was them and asked: "Where were they taken?" . . . The soldiers answered that this morning the children were taken to Khankala.

. . .We ran up to the commander [who sat in the APC], stopped the APC, and asked "Tell us please . . ." but he bluntly refused. [He said:] "I have no idea what you're talking about. I didn't see any children." We then went to the location of the OBRON-8 unit-two hundred meters away from us. They also refused [to talk], called their commander but he wouldn't come out. Close by was checkpoint No. 17 with OMON units from Pskov. We went to them. . . At the checkpoint, they didn't tell us anything: "We didn't see anything, we don't know anything. What are we going to do with kids?"80

Alieva and the other two mothers eventually found a police officer at the Lenin district temporary police department who sympathized and promised to help.81 Several days later, police investigator Aman Karasaev brought her son's guitar for identification. He said the commander of the OBRON-8 unit had given it to him. The commander had claimed his men found it on the street. Later, Karasaev allowed her and the other mothers to read a police report on the detention of her son. Alieva told Human Rights Watch:

The report stated that "the children were detained while crossing the street" and that they had a whole arsenal of weapons on them. The children were brought to the OBRON-8 department for questioning,where they confessed to mining the street in the morning. . . . [It also said that] at 9:00 a.m. on June 29, they were delivered to "Pamir." Investigator Aman [Karasaev] told me that "Pamir" is Khankala.

Karasaev reportedly told Alieva he could be of no further help to her, as his "arms are short." He suggested that Alieva and the other mothers seek help from the Grozny military commander, Maj. Gen. Vasilii Prizemlin. Alieva told Human Rights Watch that she had not managed to speak to Prizemlin himself but that his subordinates had refused to provide her any assistance. Alieva scoured lists of prisoners, compiled by former detainees and posted at markets, on buses, and lampposts, to no avail. She was unable to secure any information confirming the youths' detention at Khankala or anywhere else.82

Alieva's case illustrates the vulnerability and desperation on the part of family members of the "disappeared" that has motivated predatory "information" middlemen. On several occasions, middlemen showed up on her doorstep, claiming they were sent by "the Russians," and demanding money up front and in exchange for her son. Alieva said that as soon as she demanded concrete evidence-a photograph, a written note or a video or audio tape-that these people knew where her son was, they left and did not come back. One woman, Alieva said, came to her in Nazran and said: "I urgently demand money." She claimed Alieva's son was in train carriages at Cherevlennaia. Alieva refused to give her money up front. Instead, she suggested: "Take me with you. I'll go there with money." [The middleman:] "I won't take you with me. They don't allow that."

The "Disappearance" of Nineteen People at the Checkpoint Between Duba-Yurt and Chiri-Yurt (January 13, February 18 and March 6, 2000)

Between January and March 2000, at least nineteen people "disappeared" after being seized at the checkpoint between Duba-Yurt and Chiri-Yurt, in central Chechnya.

The Memorial Human Rights Center found that on January 13, 2000, soldiers at the checkpoint detained four men, Visit Arsanukaev (age thirty-six), Said-Magomed Delmukhanov (age thirty-five), Hussein Didaev (age thirty-three), and Vakha Titaev (age thirty-nine), for unclear reasons. Although the wives of the four men actively searched for their husbands, they were unable to establish their whereabouts.

On February 18, 2000, soldiers detained-in the presence of numerous witnesses-Kashi Bashaev (age thirty-eight), Hussein Basnukaev (age forty-one), and Ruslan Kaikharov (age twenty-seven or twenty-eight). According to Memorial, the men had been transporting a number of women and children who had been wounded during a bombardment of the village of Aslanbek-Sheripova.83 The women and children were apparently moved to a different car and the three drivers were detained. After the checkpoint was dismantled in the spring, relatives of the "disappeared" men found the two cars in which they had been traveling. Both cars had been crushed by a tank and buried. The fate of the men remains unknown to the day of this writing.

On March 6, 2000, soldiers at a checkpoint located between Ulus-Kert and Duba-Yurt84 detained forty-eight-year-old Musa Astamirov and his twenty-nine-year-old son, Alibek, along with four women and ten other men.85 The women were released soon afterwards. Together with neighbors from the village and relatives of the detained, the women then waited at the checkpoint for the release of the twelve men. When soldiers staffing the checkpoint told them that the men had been sent back to Ulus-Kert, the women, relatives, and villagers immediately conducteda search there, but were unable to find the men. Upon arrival back at the checkpoint, the soldiers told the group that the men had been transferred to Chiri-Yurt. Searches in Chiri-Yurt were again fruitless.86

Kulpa Aslambekova, wife of Musa Astamirova and mother of Alibek, has since the time of her relatives' detention continuously visited detention centers throughout the North Caucasus to seek news of her loved ones and repeatedly approached official bodies at the national and local levels. Her efforts have been unsuccessful.87

On May 10, 2000, local villagers at Tangi-Chu unearthed the bodies of three men at the cemetery of that village. They were later identified as Arsanukaev, Titaev, and Delmukhanov; according to the Shali district procuracy, Didaev was also murdered. All of the others who "disappeared" at the Chiri-Yurt checkpoint, to our knowledge, remain "disappeared " as of this writing.

"Disappearances" During Nighttime Raids

Human Rights Watch documented two cases in which masked men speaking unaccented Russian raided houses in the middle of the night and took away three young men.88 In both cases, the masked men had apparently come in Russian military vehicles. In each of these cases, the whereabouts of the men remain unknown as of this writing.

The "Disappearance" of Musa Gairbekov (Grozny, October 8, 2000)

At 4:00 a.m. on October 8, 2000, a group of five masked men in military uniforms, speaking unaccented Russian, entered the house of Baskhan Gairbekov on Shefskaia Street in Grozny. They hit Gairbekov over the head with a rifle butt, locked his wife in a separate room, and took their thirty-one-year-old son Musa with them. Baskhan Gairbekov told Human Rights Watch that the masked men pulled Musa off his bed, wrapped a sheet around his head, and took him away.89 The men told Baskhan Gairbekov that "if you move, we'll shoot." They then heard the sounds of cars pulling away. Neighbors later told Gairbekov that they had seen two APCs blocking Shefskaia Street that night, but that the licence plate number had been made illegible. As of December 2000, Musa Gairbekov was still missing.90

The "Disappearance" of Lom-Ali Aziev (age twenty-seven) and Umar-Ali Aziev (age twenty-six) (Grozny, September 24, 2000)

At approximately 1:20 a.m. on September 24, 2000, a group of eight masked men silently entered the home of the Aziev family in Grozny. When Lecha Aziev woke up and asked them who they were, the men told him to be quiet and started beating him, breaking two of his ribs. The men put a gun to the chest of Zulai Azieva, Lecha's wife. Lecha told Human Rights Watch:

As I lay on the floor [after being hit], they went into the kids' room where the two boys were sleeping. The youngest got up, they hit him with a rifle butt, he fell down. They stepped on him and started to scream: "Give the handcuffs." They put on the handcuffs and put a bag over his head. When they put the bag over his head, I understood that there wasn't anything I could do.91

Zulai Azieva told Human Rights Watch that she offered her sons' passports to the men but that they were not interested in them. She said that her sons were not allowed to dress themselves and were taken away in their underwear. Neighbors from their building92 and across the street later told the Azievs that they had seen masked men with flash lights combing through the apartment building from the second to the ninth floor and that more had stood outside the building.

As of March 2001, the Aziev brothers were still missing.93

In both the Aziev and Gairbekov cases, relatives told Human Rights Watch that they went to all law enforcement and military agencies to search for their sons; the Azievs did so the very morning after they had been seized. In both cases, all law enforcement and military agencies that were approached denied having carried out the nighttime raids, and the "disappeared" individuals were not acknowledged to be registered at any of the detention centers that were contacted.

The head of the Lenin district administration, to his credit, provided Azieva with a car to travel to various commanders' offices and sent a doctor to her home to examine her beaten husband. The local administration also helped her check whether her sons were in various detention centers in the area. The Azievs had a less positive experience when they appealed to the offices of Akhmad Kadyrov, the Russian-appointed civilian administrator for Chechnya and Beslan Gantemirov, the Russian-appointed mayor of Grozny. Aziev told Human Rights Watch that both had told him that his sons might be in Khankala but that they-as civilian administrators-have no access to that military base.94

"Disappearances" from Detention Centers and Police Stations

Some people who were acknowledged to be held in detention centers or police stations "disappeared." In August 2000, four people who were held at the Internat detention center in Urus-Martan "disappeared," with authorities failing to account for their whereabouts. In October 2000, a man who voluntarily entered a police station in Grozny never exited it.

The "Disappearance" of Abdulkasim Zaurbekov (October district temporary police station, October 17, 2000)

Forty-nine-year-old Abdukasim Zaurbekov worked as a car mechanic for the October district temporary police station for about two months prior to his "disappearance" on October 17, 2000. A day before his "disappearance," a police official had told him that he had to cut spending and would no longer be able to employ him. The official asked Zaurbekov to collect his remaining salary the following day. On October 17, Zaurbekov and his son drove to the police station. Abdulkasim Zaurbekov entered the station at around 11:00 a.m. to collect his pay, while his son waited in the car. According to Rosa Yusupova, Abdukasim Zaurbekov's wife, the son did not have his identity papers with him and therefore stayed in or near the car all the time.95 When his father did not return for an unexpectedly long time, the son approached duty officers and asked after his father, but was told to just sit and wait. When it became dark at around 7:00 p.m., the son once more approached the duty officer, this time to hear that "there are no civilians anymore" at the police station. The son then drove home.

The next morning, a large number of Zaurbekov's relatives went to the police station. After some difficulty, two relatives were allowed into the office of the head of the precinct, Yu. Z. Skarzhinskii. Skarzhinskii told the relatives that he knew "nothing," that Zaurbekov was not on any lists of people detained at the precinct, and that there were no reasons to detain him. Relatives managed to examine the precinct entry records, which confirmed that Zaurbekovhad signed in at 11:20 a.m. on October 17, 2000. According to police officials, Zaurbekov had received his money and left the building. However, the exit records do not show a departure time for Zaurbekov. As of March 2001, Zaurbekov's whereabout and fate remained unknown.96

The "Disappearance" of Yusup Satabaev, Yunus Chadaev, Aslanbek Gugiev, and Kazbek Vakhaev ("Internat" Detention Center, Urus-Martan, August 14, 2000)

In August 2000, four young men "disappeared" without a trace from the Internat detention center in Urus-Martan. The mothers of the four men have looked for their sons unsuccessfully ever since.

According to Tamara Satabaeva, Penza OMON units detained her son, Yusup (born in 1976) on February 23, 2000 during a sweep operation in Grushevo, a village in Urus-Martan district.97 Satabaeva told Human Rights Watch that her son was initially held at the Internat detention center in Urus-Martan where, according to former Internat detainees, prison guards had severely beaten and humiliated him. When Satabaeva heard from former detainees that her son had been transferred, she said she paid five hundred rubles to a Russian official, who told her Yusup Satabaev had been transferred to Chernokozovo.98 Indeed, prison guards at Chernokozovo confirmed to Satabaeva that her son was there. In subsequent months, Satabaeva frequently traveled to Chernokozovo, where she was allowed to exchange short written notes with her son and bring him packages once a month. He was apparently treated reasonably well.

In July 2000, Satabaeva hired a lawyer, who then saw her son at the Chernokozovo detention center. He told her on July 27 that Yusup had been amnestied and would shortly be released.99 Instead of releasing him immediately, officials transferred Satabaev back to the Internat on August 4, 2000. Satabaeva told Human Rights Watch that when she went to the Internat to collect her amnestied son, Nikolai Ovtin, an investigator with the temporary police department, informed Satabaeva that he would be held for another ten days.

In subsequent days, Satabaeva regularly brought food and clothing to the Internat, expecting her son's imminent release. However, on August 14, 2000, prison guards informed her that her son was no longer at the detention center as "relatives took him away on the night of August 13." In a conversation that same day, the head of the temporary police department, Anatolii Shigaev, apparently told Satabaeva that her son had been taken either to the Khankala military base or to the army's 245th regiment. When Satabaeva pressed him for more details, she said "he brought in several of his subordinates, who took me out of the room and threw me straight out of the Internat. He [Shigaev] said: `I'm not going to answer anymore of your questions. Where your son is, you look yourself, I don't know anything.'" As of early March 2001, Satabaeva had no information on her son's fate or whereabouts.100 Satabaeva told Human Rights Watch that people who were detained with her son those last few days alleged that he had been subjected to torture.

The three other men, Kazbek Vakhaev (age twenty-five), Yunus Chadaev (age twenty-seven), and Aslanbek Gugiev (age twenty-seven) were detained separately in early August 2000. In a letter to Vladimir Kalamanov, R. Vakhaeva, the mother of Kazbek Vakhaev, stated that officers from the temporary police department in Urus-Martan detained her son on August 1, 2000 and promised that he would be released after checking his documents.101 Maya Chadaeva, mother of Yunus Chadaev, told Memorial that her son was detained during a sweep operation in thevillage of Shalazhi on August 9, 2000. Riot police officers who carried out the sweep told Chadaeva that her son would be released soon thereafter.102 While the exact circumstances of Gugiev's detention are unknown, joint letters from the mothers of Satabaev, Chadaev, Vakhaev, and Gugiev to the Red Cross and State Duma deputy Aslambek Aslakhanov indicate that he was also detained for an identity check.103

All three were brought, separately, to the Internat detention center. Vakhaeva wrote in her letter that until August 13, 2000, guards at the Internat accepted packages she prepared for her son. That day, she wrote:

[T]he head of the temporary police department Viktor Ivanovich Shigaev came out and said that Kazbek Vakhaev had been taken to the gruppirovka [Tangi-Chu military base], returned me my son's passport and then added that he could not do anything more for me."104

Relatives of the other young men were also informed that day or the next that their sons were no longer in the Internat. In appeals to the Red Cross and State Duma deputy Aslambek Aslakhanov, the three mothers stated that the head of the temporary police department in Urus-Martan, whom she named as Anatolii Shigaev, was unable or unwilling to tell them the whereabouts of their sons, apparently telling them alternately that they were released, that the FSB took them away, that they were in Mozdok, at Khankala, or in the hands of the 245th regiment.105 In several letters to the mother of Yunus Chadaev, the Urus-Martan district procuracy claimed that the young man had been released on August 14, 2000.

31 In a sweep, federal forces seal off entire villages or town districts and systematically comb through homes. Frequently, they loot valuables in the process. Detainees are often taken to makeshift detention facilities where they are questioned, and are routinely beaten and tortured. Most are eventually released, often after relatives pay a ransom for them, after a few days. For more information, see: Human Rights Watch, "Field Update on Chechnya," January 22, 2001; Memorial website, "Armed Conflict in the Republic of Chechnya: Chronicle of the Violence," (March 2001).

32 Human Rights Watch and Memorial received reports of other "disappearances" that took place during other large sweeps in the second half of 2000 and the first few months of 2001. Due to the frequency with which large scale sweeps take place, Human Rights Watch has not been able to document abuses that took place in each of these operation. For information on "disappearances" and other abuses during such sweeps, see Memorial website, "Armed Conflict in the Republic of Chechnya: Chronicle of the Violence," (March 2001).

33 In one incident during the two-day operation, Russian soldiers fired directly into a group of at least thirty women as they protested the attempted detention of one Novye Atagi resident, killing one woman and wounding another twelve. Human Rights Watch interview with Taus Kuntaeva, Nazran, March 10, 2001.

34 Human Rights Watch interview with Ali Zaurbekov and Aina Khasarova, Nazran, March 1, 2001.

35 Human Rights Watch interview with Tamara Shabaeva, Nazran, March 4, 2001.

36 Ibid.

37 Letter to the procurator of Shali region, the military commander of Shali region and others, undated, from Saret Yasodova.

38 Ibid.

39 Human Rights Watch interview with Tamara Shabaeva, Nazran, March 4, 2001.

40 Letter dated November 1, 2000, from the military procuracy at Khankala military base to Aminat Musaeva, signed by Khalemin, D.V.

41 Human Rights Watch interview with Alamat and Aminat Musaev, Nazran, November 24, 2000; a relative of Adlan Eldarov who requested to remain anonymous, Nazran, November 28, 2000. See also: Memorial website, "Armed Conflict in the Republicof Chechnya: Chronicle of the Violence: August 2000," (March 2001).

42 Ibid.

43 This man was identified by Alamat and Aminat Musaev as Rezvan Alikhadzhiev or Abukhadzhiev. A letter from the Khankala military procuracy states that this man was suspected of having bombed an APC on August 8, 2000. Letter dated November 1, 2000, from the military procuracy at Khankala military base to Aminat Musaeva, signed by Khalemin, D.V.

44 Human Rights Watch interview with Alamat and Aminat Musaev, Nazran, November 24, 2000.

45 Ibid.

46 Ibid.

47 Letter dated November 1, 2000, from the military procuracy at Khankala military base to Aminat Musaeva, signed by Khalemin, D.V.

48 Human Rights Watch interview with a relative of Adlan Eldarov who requested to remain anonymous, Nazran, November 28, 2000.

49 Military officials later confirmed to the relative that their records indicated that Eldarov was sent to the hospital.

50 Eleven are described in this report; the remainder are on file with Human Rights Watch.

51 Humanitarian organizations normally require people who wish to receive humanitarian assistance to produce identification papers. This way a record is kept of who received assistance and when.

52 In Russian: sbornyi punkt. This is a place where detainees are taken before they are brought to formally established detention centers.

53 Human Rights Watch interview with Ovkhad Tamaev, Nazran, March 3, 2001.

54 Ibid.

55 Ibid.

56 Ibid.

57 Human Rights Watch interview with Muslim Dikaev, Aslan Dundaev's uncle, Nazran, March 9, 2001.

58 Ibid.

59 Human Rights Watch interview with a relative of Magomed Magomadov who requested to remain anonymous, Nazran, March 9, 2001. For testimony from relatives of all three men, see Memorial website, (March 2001).

60 Ruslan Alaskhanov told Human Rights Watch that this man did not want to be named.

61 The building of the Grozny circus is currently in use as assembly point for detainees before further transportation and as a detention center. Human Rights Watch has not identified the government agency that runs it.

62 Human Rights Watch interview with Ruslan Alaskhanov, "Bart" refugee camp, Ingushetia, March 1, 2001.

63 Human Rights Watch interview with "Ruslan Amirov" (not the witness's real name), Nazran, November 17, 2000.

64 Ibid.

65 Said-Alvi Luluev told Human Rights Watch that he was able to establish the name of only one other person, Zavalu Tazurkav, who was also seized in the incident. Human Rights Watch has no information on his fate.

66 Human Rights Watch interview with Said-Alvi Luluev, Moscow, October 19, 2000.

67 Ibid.

68 Human Rights Watch interview with Said-Alvi Luluev, Moscow, March 12, 2001.

69 Human Rights Watch has a video tape with this interrogation on file.

70 In March, a reporter for CNN showed the tape to a Human Rights Watch researcher in Moscow and told him what he saw at Alkhan-Kala that day.

71 Human Rights Watch interview with Fatima Bazorkina, Karabulak, Ingushetia, November 17, 2000.

72 Letter dated November 24, 2000 from assistant to the military procurator V.P. Zelenin of the Khankala military procuracy to Fatima Bazorkina.

73 See: Letter dated October 27, 2000 from chairman of the council of Memorial, Oleg Orlov to the Special Presidential Representative for the protection of Human Rights and Freedoms of the Citizens of the Republic of Chechnya, V.A. Kalamanov.

74 Although authorities have not revealed the total number of checkpoints in operation in Chechnya, Bill Frelick of the U.S. Committee for Refugees reported passing through fifteen checkpoints between the border with Ingushetia and the city limits of Grozny, a distance of only forty kilometers (twenty-five miles), and added that checkpoints are far more frequent within Grozny itself. Bill Frelick, "Inside Chechnya: Misery, Fear, and Abuse," Refugee Reports (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Committee for Refugees), vol. 22 no. 2, February 2001.

75 Twenty-five are described in this report; the remainder are on file with Human Rights Watch.

76 Human Rights Watch interview with Marzet Imakaeva, Nazran, March 4, 2001.

77 Human Rights Watch interview with Razet Mishaeva, Nazran, March 8, 2001.

78 Letter from L.V. Iliushenko, acting procurator of the Urus-Martan regional procuracy, to I.A. Abubakarov, dated November 2, 2000.

79 Human Rights Watch interview with Rashan Alieva, Nazran, December 4, 2000.

80 Ibid.

81 Ibid.; Human Rights Watch interview with Asya Lyanova, Nazran, November 28, 2000.

82 Human Rights Watch interview with Rashan Alieva, Nazran, March 5, 2001.

83 See Memorial, "Corpses Found of People who `Disappeared' After Detention for Document Checking,", (March 14, 2001).

84 According to Aslambekova, the wife of one of the two men who were detained that day, the checkpoint was under the control of commander Sergei Parichevno.

85 The other men detained were Akhdan Abubakarov (born 1964), Aslanbek Imakaev (born 1963), Balaudi Imakaev (1959), Zalavdi Malikov (born 1964), Anzor Malikov (born 1979), Said-Magomed Yasuev (born 1961), Said-Salam Yasuev (born 1967), Saida Rasaev (born 1966), Sultan Akhmadov (born 1948), Isa Khadzhiev (born 1968).

86 Human Rights Watch received a joint letter from the wives and sisters of most of these men, addressed to Peter Bouckaert and dated April 20, 2000. Human Rights Watch also received separate letters from the wives of Balaudi Imakaev, Zalavdi Malikov, and Said-Magomed Yasuev, all addressed to Peter Bouckaert and dated April 21, 2000. These letters explained the circumstances of the "disappearances" and asked for help establishing the whereabouts of the men.

87 Human Rights Watch interview with Kulpa Aslambekova, Sleptovsk, Ingushetia, February 28, 2001.

88 Eight additional such cases are on file with Human Rights Watch.

89 Human Rights Watch interview with Baskhan Gairbekov, Nazran, December 5, 2000.

90 Two weeks before Musa Gairbekov was taken away, Baslan Gairbekov buried his other son, Isa. Twenty-six-year-old Isa Gairbekov had left the family home on September 26, 2000 to go to the central market. He did not return. The next day, at around 2:00 p.m., unknown people brought Isa's dead body to Shefskaia street. According to his father, he had been shot through the neck and heart but had not been tortured or ill-treated. The body of another, unidentified Chechen man was found at the same location.

91 Human Rights Watch interview with Zulai and Lecha Aziev, Nazran, December 7, 2000.

92 The door of the neighbor's apartment was broken open at the same time as that of the Azievs. According to Lecha Aziev, the masked men hit the female neighbor with a rifle butt and forced her down on her knees. Another neighbour, frightened by the noises ran to the Azievs' door but the masked men thrust her away.

93 Human Rights Watch interview with Lecha Aziev, Nazran, March 2, 2001.

94 Ibid.

95 Human Rights Watch interview with Rosa Yusupova, Nazran, December 6, 2000.

96 Human Rights Watch interview with Rosa Yusupova, Nazran, March 9, 2001.

97 Human Rights Watch interview with Tamara Satabaeva, Nazran, December 4, 2000.

98 For more on extortion of payment in return for information on the whereabouts or for release of detainees, see Human Rights Watch, "Welcome to Hell": Arbitrary Detention, Torture, and Extortion in Chechnya (New York: Human Rights Watch, October 2000), pp.77-82.

99 Human Rights Watch has a copy of the decision to close the criminal case against Yusup Satabaev and amnesty him, dated July 27, 2000, on file.

100 Human Rights Watch interview with Tamara Satabaeva, Nazran, December 4, 2000. Activists at Memorial's office in Nazran confirmed to Human Rights Watch on March 15, 2001 that Satabaeva was still looking for her son as of mid-March 2001.

101 Letter dated September 14, 2000 from R. Vakhaeva to Vladimir Kalamanov.

102 Memorial made a transcript of the undated interview available to Human Rights Watch.

103 One letter signed by the mothers of the four young men who "disappeared" from the Internat is dated September 16, 2000 and addressed to Aslambek Aslakhanov of the Russian State Duma. The other, also signed by the four mothers but undated is addressed to the Red Cross and Red Crescent society.

104 Letter dated September 14, 2000 from R. Vakhaeva to Vladimir Kalamanov.

105 Human Rights Watch has copies of these letters on file. One letter signed by the mothers of the four young men who "disappeared" from the Internat is dated September 16, 2000 and addressed to Aslambek Aslakhanov of the Russian State Duma. The other, also signed by the four mothers but undated is addressed to the Red Cross and Red Crescent society.

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