March 22, 2005 Tuesday
COPENHAGEN March 22 (AFP) – Danish authorities on Tuesday rejected a
call by a Chechen advocacy group to arrest visiting Russian general
Anatoly Kulikov for alleged war crimes in Chechnya.
State prosecutor Birgitte Vestberg said that the war in the breakaway
republic was "an internal armed conflict" and Denmark therefore had
no jurisdiction in the matter.
Danish authorities could only prosecute those who had carried out crimes
in Denmark or crimes by citizens or residents of the Scandinavian country,
she added in a statement.
The Danish Chechnya Support Committee said in a letter to Denmark's
special prosecutor for international crimes earlier Tuesday that there
were "concrete suspicions (that Russian troops serving under Kulikov)
have perpetrated war crimes and torture against the (Chechen) population."
The group called for the arrest of Kulikov, 58, now a member of
the Russian Duma, or parliament, for his alleged role in a massacre in
the Chechen town of Samashki in April 1995, as well as for his decision
to block international aid organizations from entering the battle zone
throughout the first Chechen war of independence in 1994-96.
Kulikov was invited to Denmark by the state-financed Danish Institute
for International Studies to present Russia's perspective during a
conference on international terrorism.
Two left-leaning opposition parties, the Socialist People's Party
and the formerly communist Unity List, called on Justice Minister
Lene Espersen to explain why Kulikov was invited.
"We want to know why Kulikov has not been arrested like (Chechen
Deputy Prime Minister Akhmed) Zakayev was in Denmark in the summer
of 2002, following a request from Moscow calling him a terrorist,"
Unity List spokesman Frank Aaen told AFP.
"You cannot have two different scales. The minister must explain
herself," he added, insisting that strong evidence links Kulikov
to war crimes in Chechnya, where a second guerrilla war has raged
Danish Support Committee for Chechnya Press release
A Russian general, accused of war crimes in Chechnya, is going to deliver a paper in Denmark on 3/22. The Support Committee files a civilian indictment.
We have learnt that the Russian general Anatoliy Kulikov is planning to deliver a paper in Denmark on 3/22 with the title "Countering Terrorism". The paper will be delivered at DIIS, Danish Institute for International Studies.
General Kulikov was commander-in-chief of the Russian interior troops (MVD) during a period of the first Chechnya War, 1995-96; he has thus the supreme responsibility for the massive attacks on the Chechen civilian population at that time, and as a part of this, especially the attack on the Chechen provincial town of Samashki in April 1995.
The town was totally smashed and a great number of civilians was killed without having any chance of leaving the battle zone. The Russian troops committed several massacres by throwing hand grenades into basements with civilians and by burning other people to death with flame throwers.
The International Committee of the Red Cross was denied access to Samashki during the attack.
Several human rights organizations documented these atrocities already in 1995, among them Russian "Memorial", led by Sergei Kovalyov.
At that time, General Kulikov wiped away all these reports and witness accounts and declared in several statements to the press that "Kovalyov is a political prostitute". Furthermore, Kulikov made the following central comment with regard to the many Chechen victims: "In a war where the enemy hides among civilians, there will be civilian casualties. In wars like this, civilian casualties outnumber military ones."
A short time ago, the Human Rights Court in Strasbourg passed a principal verdict against the Russian state for its "warfare" in Chechnya. Russia was found guilty of violating the "right to life" through massive military attacks on densely populated areas full of civilians.
Therefore General Kulikov as the supreme commanding general bears the supreme responsibility for such and similar Russian attacks in 1995. The first Chechen war demanded the lives of 100,000 Chechen civilians.
At the Hague Tribunal on Ex-Yugoslavia, great legal stress is laid upon the responsibility of the supreme commanding generals for the individual "operations" and also upon the responsibility of those who were ministers at the time.
After the new verdicts in Strasbourg and according to previous practice in the legal dealing with war criminals, General Kulikov's responsibility for possible crimes must thus be examined by a court.
Therefore, on Tuesday, 22/3, the Support Committee for Chechnya will file a civilian indictment against General Kulikov at "The Special International Crimes Office", in order to achieve a legal evaluation of his actions.
Besides this, we are very surprised how an institution like the DIIS can arrive at the idea to invite a guest like General Kulikov, and in this context we recall Foreign Minister Per Stig M