North Ossetia, the republic in the Caucasus where Norway’s award-winning illegal alien Maria Amelie was born, was dominated by criminal organizations in the 1990s. According to people who know the country well, the situation is much different today and Amelie could be sent back safely.
During the 1990s the Russian government had relinquished power in the region. Criminal gangs, not least from Chechnya, dominated the Northern Caucasus, writes newspaper Aftenposten. This situation has to some extent changed for the better, say experts familiar with the region that was home to Amelie and her family before they fled more than 10 years ago. They have lived illegally in Norway since 2004 and Norwegian authorities are now considering deporting Amelie despite massive public protests.
Igor Dulayev, a social scientist who has lived for the past 12 years in Vladikavkaz, the capital of North Ossetia, told Aftenposten that the general situation in the republic is much better than it used to be. Compared to Dagestan and Chechnya, North Ossetia is in another league, he claims.
Valery V Kabolov, head of the North Ossetia Society in Moscow, agrees. Without knowing Maria Amelie herself, he says that her father, Khetag Salamov, belongs to a highly respected family in Ossetian society. Her uncle, Kaurbek Salamov was a famous surgeon and professor in Moscow and a friend of Kabolov. Another close relation, Semfira, is married to Yevgeny Shaposhnikov, the last Minister of Defense in the Soviet Union.
“Countless business people got into trouble with the mafia and criminal organisations. Khetag Salamov may well have been among them,” says Kabolov to Aftenposten.
Nevertheless he does not think that Amelie’s family would encounter any difficulties if they were to return to North Ossetia.
“That there could be some sort of mafia that threatens the lives of the family today is of course possible, but I can honestly say that I have not heard of any such incidents in recent years,” adds Kabolov.
If and when Amelie is sent out of Norway it would most probably be to Moscow, where she has several contacts who would be able to offer her various assistance, including a place to stay.
The Russian Embassy in Oslo would issue Amelie an emergency passport which would get her into Russia and which she could use to apply for an ordinary passport, says embassy spokesman Vladimir Isupov.
After being freed from the Trandum detention centre earlier this week, Amelie must report daily to the police, bringing a suitcase in case the authorities are ready to deport her. Until such time, she is free to go where she wants after a ruling Wednesday by the Norwegian Supreme Court.
He lawyer, however, says Amelie, whose real name is said to be Madina Salamova, remains frightened by her pending forced return to Russia and felt unable to face more questions from the media.
“The family fears that there may be people who want to harm them,” lawyer Brynjulf Fisnes told Aftenposten. “Maria Amelie was very young when her family fled and she probably lacks full knowledge of the dangers that she faces in Russia.
“She is very anxious and feels a strong aversion to the idea of returning to what she feared as a child.”
Views and News from Norway/Sven Goll
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