19 May 2008, 11:37

"Memorial" demands to investigate the crimes of "Vostok" battalion fighters in Chechnya

Human rights activists are concerned with the situation around the "Vostok" (East) battalion of the 42nd Motorized Rifle Division of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, deployed in Chechnya, and state that irrespective of the political context, the grave crimes revealed during the recent weeks shall be investigated.

The statement of the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial" named "On Situation around 'Vostok' Battalion: Criminals Shall be Punished" runs that when media made comments on the conflict, which had arisen between corteges of the President of the Republic and commander of one of the "Vostok" subdivisions, the accent was made on confrontation of the authorities of Chechnya with another federal power agency, while perceiving now made public crimes only as some background and pretext for a conflict.

The HRC "Memorial" notes that the Ministry of Defence has exhibited the same understanding of the situation as the mass media. It was reported on May 13 with reference to the Ministry about the forthcoming re-attestation of the staff of the "Vostok" battalion, since this subdivision (same as the other special battalion named "Zapad" (West)) "was created amidst combat actions and recruited in haste."

Thus, it has become known today that the prosecutor's check in relation to the officers who had left their service and stopped to appear in the premises of the battalion is conducted on the fact of their absenteeism for more than ten days, which under the law entails criminal liability. As to the battalion itself, it was decided at the expanded collegium of the Ministry of Defence that it will survive in the former status and under the former command.

In the opinion of the HRC "Memorial", this one-month-late reaction of the federal centre is in absolute disaccord with the current situation, since the command of the "Vostok" battalion was accused of extortions, kidnappings, "disappearances" and murders of people.

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