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Be held accountable

Russian generals do as they please. Therefore, it is important that one of them is convicted of murdering Fatima Bazorkina's son.


[Chechnya] July 27, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg handed down a ruling in a preliminary outstanding case: «Fatima Bazorkina vs. Russia »is the first case of abductions in Chechnya. The complaint that teacher Fatima Bazorkina delivered as early as 2000 was one of the first of its kind.

The fact that Fatima accepted that the Russian authorities should be held responsible for the son's disappearance and death is also unique, and it is very important. For the first time, it has been established, after an international legal process, that specific military officials (with first and last names) have violated Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights ("right to life"). Of course, this is important for Fatima Bazorkina itself, as well as for the mothers and fathers of hundreds of people who have been abducted in Chechnya. Here, however, it is appropriate to point to yet another outstanding feature of the ruling.

It is true that generals are not punished in Russia, even though they are killers. They cannot be prosecuted, they are sinless and do just as they please.

And they did with Jandiev. On February 2, 2000, Fatima watched the Russian television news, which showed a report on the ongoing fighting in Chechnya. Then her son appeared on the screen. He was standing by a bus. A general shouted the following to Jandiev: "Send him to hell, kill that scum… Get started, take him away, kill him, shoot him, damn it."

Later, Fatima found out that the general was Aleksandr Baranov, chief of staff of the Chechen army. Fatima grabbed the raw film and sent it to the Human Rights Court. The court also received testimony from the driver of the bus Jandiev was thrown in. Shortly after the bus left the scene, the officers ordered to stop and Jandiev was taken out with force. Everyone who knows the realities of the Second Chechen War understands what happened: Unknown shoulders with stars on their shoulders executed General Baranov's order.

When the verdict was handed down, the Human Rights Court demanded that Russia should conduct a proper investigation into Jandiev's disappearance. As for General Baranov, the European Court of Human Rights has in practice made him a war criminal. Putin, on the other hand, gave him the order "Hero of Russia" after the storming of Grozny in the winter of 2000. From being chief of staff he has risen in the ranks. After serving in Chechnya, he became commander-in-chief of the Ural / Volga military district, which is important in Russia.

It was not until 2004 that the general was questioned about what is shown on the video. Baranov refused for almost everything. He insisted that Jandiev be an aggressive rebel soldier rude enough to be cruel to him, the General.

The investigator who conducted the interrogation was very pleased with Baranov's statements. The record shows that he did not come up with a single supplementary question, and Baranov received the respect that befits a general. A few months later, Baranov, still suspected of war crimes in Chechnya, was given an even more prestigious position. It is as if he was encouraged, as if he confirmed that he was acting correctly, from the state's point of view. Thus, Baranov is now nothing short of commander-in-chief for the North Caucasus military district.

Thank goodness does not apply to Russian legal-hierarchical perversions in Europe. Generals do not have immunity in Strasbourg. Therefore, the decision of the European Court of Human Rights can transform General Baranov's life into something à la Ratko Mladics. The three-month appeal period has been granted, but when the verdict comes into force on October 27, Baranov risks becoming persona non grata everywhere except in Belarus and North Korea. An old Russian saying goes: The thread can spin and spin, but sooner or later it stops spinning. It hits the nail on the head, like all popular wisdom.

Translated by Jardar Østbø

Anna Politkovskaya was a journalist at the Novaya Gazeta in Moscow and wrote exclusively for Ny Tid.

The text was published in Ny Tid on August 4, 2006

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