MENU
Documenting war crimes in Ukraine.
The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.

Similar articles

Crimean Tatar political prisoner sentenced to 11 years for "kitchen conversation" about religion and politics Fascism is here in Russia. Anti-war activities in Russia, 15-22 AugustNew Russian conveyor belt of repression targets Crimean Tatars, other Ukrainians abducted from mainland Ukraine Russia wants 64-year-old Crimean Tatar to die in prison for refusing to collaborate in occupied Crimea Abducted Crimean Tatar sentenced to five years in Russian-occupied Crimea on insane charges Russian invaders plan ‘trial’ of abducted Ukrainian volunteer on charge of ‘international terrorism’ Russia seeks 15-17 sentences against Crimean Tatar civic journalists who reported repression in occupied Crimea Russia kills and maims children in Kharkiv and claims it ‘destroyed mercenaries’Savage sentences in Russia’s religious persecution and plunder in occupied Crimea Russia "takes revenge’ for humiliating attack on Crimea military base by new mass arrests of Crimean Tatars Retired Ukrainian naval commander abducted, tortured and taken to Russian-occupied Crimea ‘for trial’Effective death sentence against veteran Crimean Tatar activist for opposing repression in Russian-occupied Crimea Three nuclear safety officials abducted from Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant which Russia is using to fire missiles at Ukrainian targets How are Russia’s missile strikes on civilians in Vinnytsia and Chasiv Yar not terrorism? Crimean Tatar sentenced to 19 years on "sheer fantasy" charges Russia copy-pastes first attack on Crimean Tatar activists after 4 years for new 13-year sentences After violently seizing Crimea, Russia accuses peaceful Crimean Tatars of ‘terrorism’ for defending political prisoners Belarusian rail partisans who helped save Kyiv from the Russian invaders threatened with death sentences Russian Prosecutor General given power to close media for ‘discrediting the army’ through truth about the war against UkraineRussia produces a variation of easily disproven lies about its horrific war crime in Kremenchuk

Critics call new Russian counter-terror law a return to collective justice

08.11.2013 | www.rferl.org
Tom Balmforth

Critics say a new law designed to quell the insurgency in Russia’s restive North Caucasus region revives the Stalin-era principles of collective guilt and collective justice. 

President Vladimir Putin signed the legislation on November 3, requiring "close relatives and acquaintances" of those who commit acts of "terrorism" to pay damages -- both material and moral -- resulting from those acts.

It also empowers authorities to seize property from friends and relatives of suspected militants and provides for prison sentences of up to 10 years for those convicted of receiving training "aimed at carrying out terrorist activity."

"This is absolutely not normal. It’s a return to the 1930s, when Stalin advocated collective responsibility for crimes which were carried out, " Mairbek Vatchagayev, a North Caucasus analyst for the Jamestown Foundation and head of the Paris-based Center for Caucasus Research, says. "Once again, we’ve ended up there when Putin regards himself a supporter of Stalin and the Stalin period."

The legislation comes just four months before Russia hosts the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, just a few hundred kilometers from the restive North Caucasus.

Fears that terrorism could mar the Sochi Olympics heightened last month after a female suicide bomber from Daghestan detonated explosives on a bus in Volgograd, killing six people and injuring 30 others.

Analysts say the law, which was entered into parliament before the Volgograd bombing and was passed rapidly in its wake, is part of the Kremlin’s hardening line in the North Caucasus. The authorities are also testing the DNA of conservative Muslim women in the region so as to identify them rapidly if they become suicide bombers, Reuters reports. 

The law signed by Putin effectively mimics at a national level the tactic of persecuting relatives that has long been in place in Chechnya under its pro-Kremlin leader, Ramzan Kadyrov. Vatchagayev said the tactic has made Chechnya "the most peaceful republic in the region" and in stark contrast to Daghestan and Ingushetia.  

Vatchagayev says the Kremlin is hoping to emulate this success regionwide.  "Vladimir Putin has decided to implement the experience of the Chechen Republic across the whole North Caucasus, " Vatchagayev says. "The law is almost entirely aimed at the North Caucasus against armed fighters."

Vatchagayev adds that the law is ambiguous because "relatives" and "close acquaintances" can denote a "whole clan" in predominantly Muslim republics like Chechnya.

Analysts say the law fits a hardening shift in how security forces are dealing with the insurgency ahead of the Olympics.

Andrei Soldatov, the founder of investigative website agentura.ru, which tracks the security services, says it signals an ongoing shift away from using incentives to get insurgents to lay down their arms.

"The tactics of the security services now are quite different than they were a year ago, " Soldatov says. "A year ago, they combined special operations with non-special operations -- like encouraging people to come [in] from the forest and all these commissions of rehabilitations. It seems now that these kinds of activities have stopped in almost every North Caucasus republic and they [use] only this hard approach."

Soldatov was nonetheless unsure the measure would yield the intended result across the North Caucasus because of varying local conditions.

"I think it depends on which republic we are talking about, " Soldatov says. "One thing is that in Chechnya everybody is scared by Kadyrov and his people. In this case, maybe the tactics would be effective in the short term. But I think the situation in Dagestan is completely different. There, the security services are losing the battle for the hearts and minds of the population. And this kind of measure might only add to the sense of disappointment."

 Share this