Relatives demand Maskhadov's body

Several of Russia's top human rights activists have called on Moscow to return the body of slain Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov to his relatives for burial.

    Maskhadov's family has appealed to the West to intervene

    Maskhadov, a 53-year-old separatist chief who at one time had been chosen as Chechnya's president in a widely-recognised election, was killed on 8 March in a village north of the capital Grozny.

     

    Russia, which had branded him a "terrorist", said his body would not be released for burial to his family because current legislation calls for "terrorists" to be buried in unmarked graves.

     

    Burial is one of Chechnya's most sacred traditions and Moscow's refusal to return the body of Maskhadov - whom a court has never convicted on terrorism charges - has sparked dissent even from the pro-Kremlin government in Chechnya.

     

    Voice

     

    On Monday, rights activists added their voice to the controversy.

     

    "We think it shameful the refusal to return the remains to relatives for burial," said a statement signed by several leading human rights groups including Lev Ponomaryov of For Human Rights.

     

    "We think it shameful the refusal to return the remains to relatives for burial"

    Human rights groups

    "We support Maskhadov's relatives' claim for his body," said the statement.

     

    Following his death, Maskhadov's wife and two children appealed to the West to try and pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin to return the body for burial.

     

    News reports on Friday said Maskhadov's body was currently in Moscow for further identification.

     

    Maskhadov, who was elected Chechnya's president in January 1997 in an election called free and fair by European observers and recognised by Russia, was the only major separatist chief who advocated negotiations to end the current war in Chechnya, which Moscow launched in October 1999.

    SOURCE: AFP


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Daughters of al-Shabab

    Daughters of al-Shabab

    What draws Kenyan women to join al-Shabab and what challenges are they facing when they return to their communities?