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Ingushetia’s Opposition Leader Abducted

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Reports are coming in that Magomed Khazbiev, the leader of the popular opposition movement in the Republic of Ingushetia in Russia’s volatile North Caucasus, has been abducted, according to Ingushetiya.Ru. Several opposition and human rights activists, including Ingushetiya.Ru’s founder, Magomed Yevloyev, and opposition leader Maksharip Aushev, have been killed in recent years in Ingushetia.

Earlier in the day, Magomed Khazbiev and his two brothers took part in a major demonstration in the centre of Nazran against the wave of abductions and extrajudicial killings that has continued to plague Ingushetia. The demonstration was organised by the relatives of Ilez Gorchkhanov, abducted by armed men in Nazran on 21 March 2011. Riot police broke up the demonstration with truncheons and warning shots.

After the demonstration ended, Megomed Khazbiev’s bullet-proof car was shot at. Khazbiev and his brothers escaped unscathed and drove back to their house. Shortly thereafter, several dozen armed men raided the house, beat the men up, and drove off with Khazbiev and his brothers, Murad and Berd. Novaya Gazeta managed to call Khazbiev at Nazran’s main police station. The police denied any knowledge about the arrest.

The latest reports say that Khazbiev and his brothers are being cruelly beaten and tortured at the police station. Human rights activists both in Russia and the EU have contacted authorities in both Ingushetia and Moscow, expressing severe concern about the fate of Magomed Khazbiev and his brothers. Khazbiev is the coordinator of Russia’s opposition Party of Popular Freedom (PARNAS) in Ingushetia.

Soon after the arrest, armed men again appeared at the Khazbiev family house. They said they were from the republican interior ministry and traffic police. The officers took away Khazbiev’s car that was shot at earlier. When the family protested and demanded for an official order for the confiscation, the police officers said they were acting on the direct orders of Ingushetia’s president, Yunus-bek Yevkurov.

The Caucasian Knot reported that Magomed Khazbiev and his two brothers were severely beaten at the police station. The men are still being held there. Khazbiev told a correspondent of the online newspaper by telephone that he had suffered a serious head wound and that he was in a serious condition. Ingushetiya.Ru reported that an ambulance was called to the police station.

Earlier in February 2011, Magomed Khazbiev was apparently poisoned ahead of a press conference that was to be held in Moscow on the situation in Ingushetia. The event was postponed until 21 February 2011 because of Khazbiev’s sudden illness. During the press conference, Khazbiev told of the continued abductions, extrajudicial killings, and planned opposition demonstrations in Ingushetia.

Heidi Hautala, chair of the European Parliament’s Human Rights Subcommittee and deputy chair of the Finnish-Russian Civic Forum, expressed alarm at Khazbiev’s kidnap and arrest. In a statement, Ms Hautala said the targeting of opposition activists in Ingushetia was simply unacceptable. “In a region full of grievances, accountability is an absolute precondition for security and safety,” she stated.

<a href=" http://ingushetiyaru.org/news/22140.html” target=”_blank”>Ingushetiya.Ru reported later that Magomed Khazbiev and his two brothers were not released, but would have to spend the night at Nazran’s main police station. No charges were brought or grounds for arrest were presented against the three men. They are being held in a room with no other furniture than a few chairs. All three require urgent medical care, which was, however, denied from them.

The Ingush opposition website reported that Khazbiev and his two brothers, Murad and Berd, were severely beaten up by police officers during their arrest and on the way to the police station. They were pushed into the trunk of police cars with plastic bags placed on their heads. Magomed suffered an open head wound from being hit with the butt of an automatic rifle; Murad had his jaw broken and ear torn.

An ambulance called to the police station did arrive, but the doctors only diagnosed a cerebral concussion on Magomed Khazbiev. The station’s police chief refused to allow the doctors to issue any medical documents or to take the Khazbiev brothers to hospital. Representatives of Ingushetia’s human rights ombudsman visited the police station but failed to take any concrete action.


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