A Chechen journalist employed by Agence France-Presse has been kidnapped in Ingushetia. Unidentified gunmen seized Ali Astamirov on July 4 from the car of Radio Liberty journalist Aslambek Dadaev, who was giving his colleague a ride home. The gunmen stole the mobile phones of both journalists, but allowed Dadaev to leave the scene.
Human rights activist Ruslan Badalov told the Moscow daily Kommersant that the federal security agencies had taken a close interest in Astamirov and had even detained him several times. Last December the journalist was arrested and interrogated for two hours. On that occasion he said after his release that the authorities may have been trying to intimidate him.
According to Kommersant, Astamirov is the only representative of a western news agency who has spent the last two years continuously in the Ingush-Chechen war zone.