Mass graves in Chechnya

Russian troops burying corpses in a trench in Chechnya

In Chechnya, mass graves containing hundreds of corpses have been uncovered since the beginning of the Chechen wars in 1994. As of June 2008, there were 57 registered locations of mass graves in Chechnya.[1] According to Amnesty International, thousands may be buried in unmarked graves including up to 5,000 civilians who disappeared since the beginning of the Second Chechen War in 1999.[2] In 2008, the largest mass grave found to date was uncovered in Grozny, containing some 800 bodies from the First Chechen War in 1995.[1] Russia's general policy to the Chechen mass graves is to not exhume them.[3]


In a March 2001 report, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has documented eight unmarked graves in Chechnya, all of which were discovered in 2000 and 2001; HRW has also documented eight cases in which dead bodies were simply dumped by roadsides, on hospital grounds or elsewhere. The Memorial Human Rights Center also has documented numerous cases. The majority of the bodies showed close-range bullet wounds, typical of summary executions, and signs of mutilation (examinations of some of these bodies by doctors have revealed that some of the mutilations were inflicted while the detainees were still alive,[4] indicating that the victims were also severely tortured). On March 29, 2001, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR), Mary Robinson, called for a thorough investigation of the mass grave sites in Chechnya. In a statement given to the 57th session of the UNHCR, Robinson stated that the mass graves "must be followed up and thoroughly investigated."[5]

In 2003, residents and human rights campaigners alleged that fragments of blown-up bodies were being found all over the war-ruined region. The critics alleged that rather than put a stop to the human rights violations, the military appeared to be doing its best to hide them.[6] Families were reported to be paying ransom to Russian troops for bodies.[7] On March 31, 2003, the Russian government's human rights commissioner Oleg Mironov called on the authorities to open the mass burial sites in Chechnya to identify the bodies and establish the reasons for their deaths, "and then bury them as humans deserve." At the same time, Mironov rejected the proposal by Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to establish an international tribunal to investigate alleged war crimes committed in Chechnya.[8]

On June 16, 2005, the local pro-Russian government announced that there were 52 mass graves in Chechnya.[9] The chairman of the Chechen government committee for civil rights, Nurdi Nukhazhiyev, was quoted by ITAR-TASS news agency as saying that the graves have not been opened, so the total number of dead was difficult to determine.[10] By 2005, AI estimated that up to 5,000 people who had disappeared since 1999, out of the population of roughly one million, were still missing.[11]

As of 2008, exhuming and identifying the bodies in almost 60 identified but unopened mass burial sites remains a problem. European human rights organizations are financing the construction of a laboratory to identify the bodies.[12] It is not unusual for reconstruction crews in Grozny to run across collections of bodies, and some of them have been quietly moved to make room for the rebuilding.[3] According to the pro-Moscow Chechen government, 4,825 people disappeared, without a trace, in the republic from 1994 to July 2008.[6]

Selected discoveries

(The dates often relate to the media reports, not the discoveries themselves.)

See also


  1. 1 2 3 Russia: Chechen Mass Grave Found, Agence France-Presse, June 21, 2008
  2. Amnesty International Issues Reports on Disappearances, The Jamestown Foundation, May 24, 2007
  3. 1 2 3 A vexing reminder of war in Chechnya's booming capital, International Herald Tribune, April 29, 2008
  4. The "Dirty War" In Chechnya, Human Rights Watch, March 2001
  5. 1 2 Burying The Evidence, Human Rights Watch, May 2001
  6. 1 2 3 Mass Graves Discovered in Chechnya, The Jamestown Foundation, July 3, 2008
  7. Tracing the disappeared in Chechnya; Families often pay ransom to Russian troops for bodies, San Francisco Chronicle, July 8, 2001
  9. Russia: Pro-Moscow Chechen Official Confirms Atrocities, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 17 June 2005
  10. Chechen government admits civilians buried in mass graves, The Guardian, June 16, 2005
  11. Russian Federation: Russian police officer found guilty of crimes against the civilian population in the Chechen Republic, Amnesty International, 31 March 2005
  12. The brutal biography of Chechnya's Ramzan Kadyrov, Los Angeles Times, June 17, 2008
  13. Chechen 'mass grave' exposed, BBC News, 25 February 2000
  14. Russia investigates alleged Chechnya atrocities, The Guardian, February 25, 2000
  15. Mass grave video: The Russian view, BBC News, 25 February 2000
  16. Evidence of mass graves in Chechnya, AM, 26 February 2000
  17. Mass grave found in Chechnya, BBC News, 27 July 2000
  18. Rights Group: Russia Unlikely to Investigate Mass Grave In Chechnya, The Moscow Times, 19 March 2001
  19. Mass Grave Found in Chechnya; Russia Must Account for "Disappearances" in Military Custody, Human Rights Watch, 02/27/01
  20. Mass Grave Discovered in Chechnya, The Moscow Times, 26 February 2001
  21. 50 bodies point to Chechnya war crime, The Daily Telegraph, 05/07/2001
  22. Russia accused over Chechnya mass grave, CNN, May 15, 2001
  23. Russians refuse to check mass grave at Grozny, The Independent, Apr 3, 2001
  24. Kremlin 'was complicit in Chechen murders', The Independent, 10 November 2006
  25. Russia rejects mass grave blame, CNN, May 17, 2001
  26. Russia's Mass Grave Investigation "A Charade"; Human Rights Commission Urged to Back International Investigation, Human Rights Watch, 04/02/01
  27. Grozny Mayor Recants Over Mass-Grave Remarks, The St. Petersburg Times, April 13, 2001
  28. Widespread Torture in the Chechen Republic: Lack of Accountability, Human Rights Watch, November 13, 2006
  29. Russian 'torture cell' found in Grozny cellar, The Independent, 9 June 2006
  30. Mass Grave Discovered in Chechnya, Associated Press, April 24, 2001
  31. RUSSIA: NEW MASS GRAVE DISCOVERED IN CHECHNYA, Associated Press, April 24, 2001
  32. Russian squad finds mass grave in Chechnya, Associated Press, April 22, 2001
  33. Ten bodies uncovered in ditch near Grozny, The Daily Telegraph, 25 Jun 2001
  34. Rebels find mass grave in Chechnya, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, March 3, 2002
  35. Mass grave found in mountain cave, Prague Watchdog, April 9th 2002
  36. Mass grave found on Chechen border, BBC News, 9 September 2002
  37. Bodies of Missing Chechens Are Discovered in Mass Grave, The New York Times, September 10, 2002
  38. Grave points to Russian atrocities, The Age, September 11, 2002
  39. Four mass graves discovered in Chechnya, Associated Press, April 6, 2003
  40. Discovery of a Mass Grave in Grozny, Memorial, October 2004
  41. Discovery Of Mass Grave Reported, The Jamestown Foundation, December 1, 2004
  42. 57 Bodies Found In Grozny Park, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, April 3, 2006
  43. Mass grave discovered in Grozny contains bodies of guerrillas and civilians, Prague Watchdog, April 5th 2006
  44. Mass grave found in Chechnya, Interfax, 28.06.2006
  45. A parade of corpses before the decisive battle, Prague Watchdog, May 12th 2008
  46. Rights officials find mass grave in Chechnya, Reuters, June 20, 2008
  47. Burial of 800 persons found in Chechnya, Memorial, 20/6/2008
  48. Watchdog alleges mass grave in Russia's Chechnya, Reuters, 01 Jul 2008
  49. Ombudsman of Chechnya dissatisfied with search of mass burial, Memorial, 14/7/2008
  50. The "vanished" grave, Prague Watchdog, July 21st 2008
  51. Chechnya residents show a mass burial where Budanov's regiment was deployed, Memorial, March 27, 2009

External links

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