Out of one corner of my eye, I have been trying to follow this controversy, which is building up to conflict between the Prosecutors Office in Dagestan vs Diana Gurtskaya. Here is the latest. Diana Gurtskaya, who is also a famous singer, is the Chairman of the Committee for Protecting the Family, Children, and Motherhood within the Parliament of the Russian Federation.
Recently, in the course of her governmental duties, Diana has come into conflict with the Prosecutors Office in the Russian (Federal) Republic of Dagestan. Diana read some reports that little girls are being genitally mutilated in remote Dagestani villages. For some backstory on this issue, I did this piece on it back in August. Recall that the controversy was started by the PRO-circumcision side, namely Mufti Ismail Berdiev. Who declared that (a) it was happening; and (b) this was a good thing. After the ensuing uproar, and a vigorous debate over whether female circumcision is or is not a component of the Islamic Shariah code, the pro-mutilation faction backed down and denied that this thing was even happening. An investigation ensued. Various human-rights organizations got involved. The issue became a big embarrassment for Russia, and for Dagestan in particular. This past week the Prosecutors Office of Dagestan delivered the findings of their investigation. The conclusion: They find no evidence that female circumcision is happening anywhere in Dagestan. The initial reports were just a red herring. It ain’t so, Shoeless Joe.
Gurtskaya, however, is not satisfied with the results of the investigation and suspects maybe they are just sweeping the problem under the rug. She characterized the investigation as an example of “khalatnost“, a Russian word which is difficult to translate, but means basically that they did a shoddy job of it. With implications sometimes that the negligence was in part deliberate.
Gurtskaya has filed a complaint with Russian Prosecutor-General Yury Chaika. In which she demands a “more objective investigation” into the matter. VZGLIAD reporter Alexei Toporov interviewed Gurtskaya on this issue.
TRANSLATION OF INTERVIEW
VZGLIAD: What made you decide that the Dagestan Prosecutor report was just a formality?
Diana: Why, because they didn’t address one single fact alluded to in the report of the human rights activists! They said that they didn’t possess any details. Well, what do they expect, this is a very delicate issue. It goes without saying that nobody is going to post public information about the little girls that this was done to. They needed to work together with the human rights people. All I saw in their report was a banal cover-up, and the desire to close out an inconvenient topic of discussion.
VZGLIAD: But what if the human rights activists were being non-objective and just trying to stir up this issue for political reasons?
Diana: Fine. If that’s the case then let the Prosecutor make the conclusion that the rights activists are incorrect. Let him prove that they are mistaken, let him explain the political motive for their incorrectness. There was nothing of this sort in the Prosecutor’s report.
VZGLIAD: Why does this topic touch you so much? Have you encountered such things in your past?
Diana: No, of course not. I grew up in Gruzia, and I can say that there, as in all the Caucasus, women are treated with quite a lot of respect. For example, I grew up surrounded by the love and care of my brothers, one of whom became my producer and devote his life to my career. How was I supposed to react when I heard that such barbarism was occurring in Caucasian villages? You must understand that we are talking about the inalienable rights of children, and about mutilations, about moral and physical violence inflicted on them. As a woman myself, as a mother, I cannot let this go.
VZGLIAD: What further steps do you intend to take, in order to learn the truth and to stop this practice of female genital mutilation; if it should turn out that it is taking place in the Caucacus?
Diana: For starters, I will await the response of the (Dagestan) Prosecutor’s Office. I still nurture a great hope that the issue can be addressed at that level, in spite of everything. And regardless what happens, I want to declare publicly that this issue is not going to go away. It is simply criminal to cover up for violence against children.