October was not a good month for Russian human rights activists. On 7 October, Anna Politkovskaya, a well know journalist who regularly exposed Russian human rights violations in Chechnya, was murdered in her flat in Moscow. Six days later, on 13 October, the Russian Chechen Friendship Society (RCFS) of Nizhnii Novgorod was ordered closed by a local court, because the recently adopted NGO law makes it illegal for an organisation to be headed by a person convicted of "extremist activities". Amnesty International commented that Stanislav Dmitrievskii, Executive Director of RCFS, was convicted on "race hate" charges on 3 February 2006 for publishing non-violent articles by Chechen separatist leaders, and was -- in view of AI -- convicted for the peaceful exercise of his right of freedom of expression and should not have faced trial in the first place.
Only a few days later the military prosecutors in Chelyabinsk dropped their investigation of four army officials accused of failing to stop the hazing of army conscript Andrei Sychyov -- a case that received a lot of public attention earlier this year because of the violence and cruelty involved. While the person who beat him was sentenced on 26 September to four years imprisonment, no further action will now be taken against those in charge of protecting conscripts.
These three unrelated new items shed some light on the situation in Russia -- a situation which is getting worse, while Western leaders and businesses increasingly make deals with Russia. Chechnya, and the increasingly racist policy towards Caucasian citicens within Russia, is Russia's "war on terror", and the silence of Western leaders is the price paid for Russian cooperation in Bush's "war on terror". For us a peace movement, however, it is important to not be silent about Chechnya and Russian human rights violations, but to support peace and human rights activists in Russia and Chechnya.