Russia Urged to Rein in Kadyrov as Families of Chechen Rebels Targeted
Freedom House is deeply disturbed that Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov is escalating his counterterrorism campaign by vowing to target the families of suspected rebels. The Russian government has a responsibility to ensure that Kadyrov's government upholds the laws of the Russian Federation by not harassing citizens without proof of their involvement in illegal activity.
Kadyrov withdrew an amnesty policy for the separatist rebels following a suicide attack May 15 that killed two policemen in Grozny. Over the weekend, he expanded his campaign by telling a local television station that family members of rebels would "not be left alone" if they refuse to cooperate with authorities. Kadyrov added that he would no longer accept the notion that parents are unaware of the location of their missing sons.
"The culture of impunity we have seen develop under Kadyrov is clearly worsening, leaving the population more vulnerable to abuse," said Jennifer Windsor, Freedom House executive director. "With this public endorsement, Kadyrov is demonstrating his utter disregard for Russian and international law, and his eagerness to punish anyone associated with the rebels."
The tactic of harassing and intimidating suspected rebels’ families is nothing new in Chechnya. In 2008, the human rights organization “Memorial” reported over a dozen incidents in which the houses of rebels or that of their relatives were burned by masked assailants.
Chechnya ranks in the bottom tier of the world’s most repressive regimes, earning it a place in Freedom House’s annual Worst of the Worst: The World’s Most Repressive Societies 2009 report.
Chechnya is ranked Not Free in the 2009 edition of Freedom in the World, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Not Free in the 2008 version of Freedom of the Press.
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Freedom House, an independent nongovernmental organization that supports the expansion of freedom in the world, has been monitoring political rights and civil liberties in Chechnya since 1998.
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