Dozens protest forced disappearences in Grozny

Dozens of Chechen citizens in the Chechen capital Grozny protested Wednesday the alleged abductions of their relatives and what they call government indifference to the problem of disappearances in the war-scarred region, AP reports.

Demonstrators standing outside the Grozny mayor's office held photos of their missing loved ones and signs reading "Stop the waterfall of tears of our mothers!" and "Not a single state should allow the forced disappearances of people."

Chechnya, the site of two separatist wars and persistent violence since 1994, is plagued by disappearances blamed on rebel fighters, Russian military forces and Moscow-backed Chechen government forces.

The Memorial group said in January that since 2002, 1,799 Chechen civilians have been kidnapped, with about 1,000 of them yet to be found. The Interfax news agency on Wednesday quoted Chechnya's human rights commissioner Nurdi Nukhazhiyev as saying that in all, 2,736 people were registered as missing in Chechnya.

Chechnya's local security force, under the direction of the region's Kremlin-backed prime minister, Ramzan Kadyrov, is widely alleged to have committed abductions and other abuse of civilians.

Sultan Salmanov, a protest participant who works in Nukhazhiyev's office, said that "the cases remain unsolved in spite of hundreds of criminal cases opened with the names of federal troop officers and license numbers of armored personnel carriers."