– Russia Ordered to Pay Compensation for Murdering Ingushetia Residents
The Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights on January 17 ordered Russia to pay 109,150 euros (around $160,000) in damages and court costs to seven relatives of two residents of Ingushetia, Khalid Khatsiyev and Kazbek Akiyev, who were killed by gunfire from Russian military helicopters in Ingushetia in August 2000. According to Srji.org, the website of the Russian Justice Initiative, the Dutch-registered organization that represented the two victims’ relatives, the incident took place on August 6, 2000, after two military helicopters fired a non-guided missile at a group of men working in fields on the hills surrounding the village of Arshty. When the missile exploded, the workers ran to their cars and drove down the hill, after which the helicopters disappeared. However, as the men were driving home for lunch a short time later, the helicopters reappeared and attacked the car with automatic gunfire, killing Khalid Khatsiyev and Kazbek Akiyev. In its submissions to the Court, the Russian government did not deny the killings, but claimed the men were armed and had attempted to drive away from the helicopters despite several warning shots. The case is the first in which the Russian government has been found guilty of the deaths of citizens in Ingushetia.
– Chechen Prosecutor Wants British NGO Office Closed
Kommersant reported on January 15 that Chechnya’s chief prosecutor, Valery Kuznetsov, has asked Russia’s Supreme Court to order the closure of the Grozny office of the Center for Peacemaking and Community Development, a British non-governmental organization, for alleged tax and accreditation violations. The chairman of the Memorial human rights group, Oleg Orlov, told a Moscow press conference on January 15 that the move against the British NGO was politically motivated. “It’s completely obvious why they are being closed down—political games surrounding the aggravation of relations between Russia and Britain,” Kavkazky Uzel quoted Orlov as saying. “It is known why: the non-extradition of [Chechen separatist emissary Akhmed] Zakaev, the murder of [dissident Russian security service officer Alexander] Litvinenko and so on. Now the [Russian] authorities are recouping their losses at the expense of humanitarian organizations that are to the benefit of Russian citizens. It’s terrible.”