A chartered flight from Syria has landed in Chechnya’s capital Grozny, carrying 21 Daghestani and Chechen women and children.
The flight, which landed on 21 October, was the first of it’s kind from Syria. Previous families returned from the conflict had flown from Iraq. Among the 21 people returned, 11 are natives of Chechnya and 10 from Daghestan; 14 of them are children. The group was met by relatives and officials from both republics.
Daghestani Zamidat Abakarova returned to Russia with her three daughters. She says she plans to start anew upon her return home, finding a job and giving an education to her children.
A 10-year-old boy from Daghestan, Mukhammad Nurmagomedov, was also on board. Mukhammad’s family, who came from Astrakhan, moved to Makhachkala from where they traveled to Syria, where they were killed. After the death of his parents, Mukhammad was brought to a camp with women and other children where he was looked after by women from Daghestan.
In Grozny he was met by his grandmother and grandfather from Astrakhan. ‘When my son died, they left for Makhachkala. [Then] I found out that they had left for Turkey. But later I lost all contact with them. Literally yesterday I learned that Farida had died a year ago, and the child was with strangers’, his grandmother Pazilyat Nurmagomedova said in an interview with Grozny TV.
All the arrivals were examined by doctors at the airport, and officials took their testimonies and fingerprints, releasing some afterwards. In an interview with OC Media, Chechen human rights commissioner Kheda Saratova said the women from Daghestan were still in detention.
‘After all the necessary procedures and talks with the special services, the women were released. But the women from Daghestan were placed in an isolation ward, and they are still there. So much work has been invested in bringing them out of Syria. The plane was accompanied by Russian fighter jets, so that they would not be shot down. And now these unfortunate people cannot get home. After such treatment, would other women want to come back here and return the children?’ said Kheda Saratova.
Daghestan’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights, Marina Yezhova, told OC Media that only adults had been detained.
‘There were seven Daghestani children on board. The youngest of them is 3 months old, the oldest is 10 years old. I made sure that the children were taken home, some of them I drove personally. But their mothers are now detained — this is true. They were on a federal wanted list, and security services are working with them now,’ Yezhova said.
A source in Daghestan’s law enforcement told OC Media that if a criminal case is opened, the women will be charged with ‘participating in an illegal armed formation on the territory of a foreign state’, but that they may be released as they gave themselves up voluntarily.
[Read on OC Media: Wives and children of Islamic State militants return home]