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Amnesty Report – Russia

Amnesty International published its annual report today. The Russia Summary makes depressing reading. I’ve posted them both below for comparison, but the only real changes I could pick out were negative.

The number of Chechen refugees in Ingushetia is down, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing when you consider that their return was forcible. And the news that the Chechen administration, led by the recently assassinated Akhmad Kadyrov, has made a name for itself as a heavy handed abuser of human rights is perhaps the most frustrating of all. If his regime was so incompetent that it couldn’t even manage to shift the blame for human rights abuses away from itself and onto the Russian troops in Chechyna, it had no chance whatsoever of persuading the people of Chechnya of its legitimacy.

I was disappointed by the minimal coverage given to human rights abuses carried out by Chechen rebels who, by and large, treat the rights of ordinary civilians with as much disdain as their opponents.

Conditions in Russian jails are as bad as ever. Minorities still face discrimination and the constant threat of racially motivated attacks. Life’s not so good if you are a Russian woman, either, by the looks of things.

Here is the executive summary for 2004.

Russian security forces continued to enjoy almost total impunity for serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed in the ongoing conflict in the Chechen Republic (Chechnya). Chechen forces loyal to the pro-Moscow administration of Akhmad Kadyrov also committed serious human rights abuses as did Chechen fighters opposed to Russian rule. An increasing number of bomb attacks took place, not only in Chechnya itself, but in other parts of the Russian Federation. There were reports that the military raids which spread so much fear in the civilian population of Chechnya were now taking place in neighbouring Ingushetia, with the participation of Russian federal troops as well as pro-Moscow Chechen security forces. Tens of thousands of internally displaced Chechens remained in Ingushetia and were reportedly subjected to intense pressure from the authorities to return home. Elsewhere in the Russian Federation there were continuing reports of torture and ill-treatment. Conditions in pre-trial detention centres and prisons were often cruel, inhuman and degrading. Members of ethnic minorities faced widespread discrimination. Those responsible for racist attacks were rarely brought to justice. Violence in the home continued to claim the lives of thousands of women.

And here is the summary for 2003.

Russian security forces committed serious human rights violations and breached international humanitarian law in the continuing conflict in the Chechen Republic (Chechnya), with almost total impunity. In the wake of the hostage incident in Moscow in October, law enforcement agencies cracked down on Chechen civilians throughout the Russian Federation. Chechen armed groups committed serious human rights abuses. An estimated 110,000 internally displaced Chechens lived in harsh conditions in neighbouring Ingushetia. They reportedly faced forcible return to Chechnya, in conditions where their security and dignity could not be assured. Elsewhere in the Russian Federation there were continuing reports of torture and ill-treatment. Prison conditions were often cruel, inhuman and degrading. Members of ethnic minorities faced widespread discrimination and racist attacks were often carried out with impunity. Refugees and asylum-seekers were sent back to countries where they faced human rights violations.

Looks like the folks over at Amnesty are going to have to delve deep into their thesaurus when they write next year’s report. I can’t see things changing significantly for the better.

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