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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Official Blasts Russia Over Corridor

Federal forces in the Chechen capital, Grozny, have created a "living hell" by their refusal to open a safe corridor for some 40,000 refugees from fierce fighting in the city who have descended on a nearby village, Staraya Sunzha, a senior official of the Chechen government said in Moscow on Friday.


Isa Aliroyev, a deputy to Doku Zavgayev, told reporters at the Chechen government's Moscow representation that the commander of combined federal forces in Chechnya, General Konstantin Pulikovsky, "cannot shift the blame on to anyone else. He above all bears the responsibility for the death of innocent residents of Grozny."


Aliroyev's spokesman, Timur Muzayev, said federal forces had partially opened a safe corridor from Grozny north to Tolstoi-Yurt after the Moscow-backed government protested earlier this week.


However, he said, the corridor through Staraya Sunzha, some five kilometers from Grozny, was being used as a "filtration point" through which few male refugees were allowed to pass.


The 40,000 people stranded in Staraya Sunzha were a "second wave" of refugees from the fighting in Grozny, which began when separatist rebels stormed the city Aug. 6, Muzayev said.


A temporary hospital set up to treat wounded in the village had run desperately short of medicine, and food and water were running out for the homeless, he added.


"In these conditions it is utterly impossible to conduct a filtration of the refugees," Muzayev said. "Moreover, this area is completely controlled by Chechen law enforcement agencies. Rebel fighters do not penetrate the area, and our officials on the ground say it is obvious that the people there, suffering from hunger and thirst, are not fighters but refugees."


Aliroyev said the Chechen government's law enforcement agencies could have prevented the recent bloodshed in Grozny, but they were prevented from entering the city by federal forces.


Muzayev also repeated the Chechen government's charge that Russian soldiers were guilty of firing on and killing civilians in the capital and elsewhere.


The human rights record of federal troops in Chechnya, and of their leaders, will be the subject of an international, non-governmental tribunal to be held in December, Sergei Grigoryants, chairman of the Glasnost Fund, a human rights group, said in Moscow on Friday.


The tribunal, which will likely be held in London, will consider the Russian-sponsored assault by anti-Dudayev Chechen forces in November 1994, the federal assault on the city one month later, and a series of large attacks and bombing raids conducted in the course of the war.