Chechen ‘Black Widows’
“My mother is dying,” Fedyantseva said she told her captor.
She said Svyeta replied stonily: “It doesn’t bother my conscience. If I see [you] again, I’ll shoot.”
Commonly called “hell on Earth,” Chechnya has been the site of one of the murkiest insurgencies in modern history since Russian troops first entered the Muslim-dominated southern Russian state in 1994 to quash a separatist movement…
But even the most seasoned Russian experts were horrified by the sight of the “widows of the war” calmly announcing their intention to blow up the famous Moscow theater in a videotaped message, which was aired the Arabic satellite TV network al Jazeera just hours after the rebels seized the theater….
“I was shocked, very much so,” said Sebastian Gorka, a fellow at the Virginia-based Terrorism Research Center. “For those familiar with mainstream Chechen society — which to put it bluntly, is a conservative society — the concept of front-line Chechen female combatants is unusual, it’s a novelty…”
The hostage-taking in Moscow is a dreadful reminder of the unsolved situation in Chechnya,” said Judith Arenas, a spokeswoman for the human-rights group Amnesty International. “The situation there affects every single person, but women are particularly vulnerable to violations that include arbitrary detention, torture and rape.”
Rights groups have charged that the fear of rape by Russian forces in Chechnya is pervasive, causing many families, particularly those with young women and girls, to flee and motivating desperate attempts to hide female family members. More than 150,000 Chechens have been living in camps in the neighboring region of Ingushetia since the second Russian military operation was launched against the separatists in September 1999…