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Russia Refuses Forensic Lab For Chechnya

Tatyana Golikova
Russia's Health and Social Development Ministry has refused to allow Chechnya to set up its own laboratory for identifying exhumed bodies.

A letter has arrived in the republic signed by Health and Social Development Minister Tatyana Golikova saying that the creation of such a laboratory would not be cost-effective, a correspondent of RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service reports.

The issue of people being abducted or disappearing on the territory of Chechnya has been discussed repeatedly at all levels of government.

Chechen human rights ombudsman Nudri Nukhazhiyev has proposed the creation of such a laboratory in order to help resolve a key aspect of this problem -- the identification of recovered bodies. Currently, genetic material from such corpses is sent to various cities in Russia, which produces significant delays in identifying them.

In a new letter addressed to Golikova, Nukhazhiyev expressed confusion about the reasoning behind the rejection of his idea.

"The problem of establishing the location of abducted and missing citizens is being constantly raised not only by citizens of the republic, but also by international organizations that accuse Russia of a lack of will to resolve it," the ombudsman wrote.

At least 5,000 people are officially listed as missing since the beginning of the conflict in Chechnya.