Dagestan: Cleansing in the Gimry village not finished

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Human Rights Center Memorial

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Apr 16, 2013, 9:29:41 AM4/16/13
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Dagestan: Cleansing in the Gimry village not finished
Residents aren't allowed to return to their homes

From 11-13 April 2013 nearby Gimry village, Untsukulsky district, Republic of Dagestan, which has a population of about 5,000 people, a special operation was undertaken, which, given its manner and extent, recalls the cleansing actions during the Chechen war. According to information, which has been published on the website of the Russian FSB National Anti-Terrorism Committee, officials of the Dagestan FSB office and the Russian MIA detected a group of armed boeviks in a mountain gorge in the surroundings of Gimry village. According to investigative information, among them was one of the persons, responsible for the killing of an eminent religious figure in Dagestan. The operation started, after the boeviks had opened fire on the siloviks. One FSB soldier was wounded. One boevik was killed by the return fire, another one was injured (http://nak.fsb.ru/). Then, as the media reported, the siloviks blocked the village and concentrated special force units, armors and helicopters in it. They suggested to the residents to leave Gimry for their own safety. Around 300 people left the village. After that a part of the boeviks broke out of the village but they were soon surrounded in the gorge, where three of them were killed (http://lenta.ru/news/2013/04/12/dagestan/).

On 14 April HRC Memorial members visited residents of Gimry village, who had settled down in a temporary camp two kilometers away from the village. They appealed to the human rights activists with a collective complaint, in which they detailed what had happened.

On 11 April, at 8am, the Gimry residents heard first shots outside the village. According to them, neither they, nor the head of the local administration had been warned about the upcoming special operation. The gorge close to the village was cordoned off by siloviks and the fire on it began. Around 2pm a great number of masked siloviks in camouflage on various military machines concentrated in the village and then the firing started. The residents started to leave Gimry in a hurry and in panic. School children, who were on their way home, scattered, screaming, crying and calling for help. Several women ran towards them and couldn't find them. All of them were in hysterics and panic. The teaching staff wasn't able to handle the panic, which was emerging under the senior students, who were ready to jump out of windows. Some older residents had a heart attack due to the shock, one of them got a stroke.

The village's mullah called in the residents to gather together on the square in the village's center. Around 4pm people came to the square. Many of them hadn't been able to take the most necessary things from their homes with them. They brought invalids, wrapped in blankets. Children and old people were sent away from the square with those, who had cars. They drove off under automatic gunfire. Most of the villagers went to the temporary camp by foot. Some of them went out through a tunnel and drove to relatives in Buynaksk and Khasavyurt. In the morning of 12 April the siloviks announced an evacuation. Through the head of the village's administration the siloviks passed on, that the women were allowed to collect documents and things from their houses. The women went to the village by foot and at that time no one was shooting. As the villagers reported, on 13 April the siloviks started to conduct searches. They turned everything in the houses upside down, broke doors and smashed technical devices.

The villagers are fearing, that the siloviks vandalize in the village, chop down fruit trees and slaughter cattle. The special operation wasn't finished in the evening of 15 April, and the siloviks didn't permit the residents to return into their houses. There are no articles of prime necessity and no clothes in the temporary camp, and also there's a lack of food. Up to eight families live in two rooms, together with children and older people. Men sleep in the mosque, in cars, in the kindergarten and in the school.

HRC Memorial is worrying not only about the fate of the residents of Gimry village but in general about escalations of armed opposition. The incident recalls  the cleansing actions during the time of the first and second Chechen war.

HRC Memorial sent a statement to the prosecutor's office of the Republic of Dagestan with the request to examine, whether the regime of the counter-terrorism operation in the territory of Gimry village was imposed and whether the actions of the power structures officers were lawful, as well as to call the guilty ones to account.

16 April 2013

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