Death of Ingush Boy Sparks Further Unrest

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 44

Ingushetian President Murat Zyazikov

A six-year-old boy was killed on November 9 by security forces during a special operation targeting a suspected member of an “illegal armed formation” who had allegedly taken refuge in the home of Ramzan Amriev in the village of Chemulga, located in Ingushetia’s Sunzhensky district. Kavkazky Uzel on November 9 quoted an unnamed Sunzhensky district law-enforcement official as saying that he did not have precise information about the incident because “federal power structures” had launched an operation in Chemulga that morning and kept local police away from the scene. The shooting, he said, took place inside the home of the Amriev family, during which Ramzan Amriev’s six-year-old son, Rakhim, was fatally wounded. Kavkazky Uzel reported that the site of the special operation was surrounded by personnel from Ingushetia’s branch of the Federal Security Service (FSB), who prevented anyone from entering or exiting Chemulga.

The following day, November 10, Kavkazky Uzel quoted the parents and relatives of Rakhim Amriev as saying they were convinced that the six-year-old boy was killed by a deliberate gunshot to the head and not because of a ricocheting bullet. According to Ramzan Amriev and his neighbors, the Amrievs’ home was surrounded by around forty members of the Magas-based “Anti-terror” directorate, who, through megaphones, demanded that the occupants exit the house one at a time. However, as soon as Ramzan Amriev came to the door, the door was smashed in and the entire Amriev family–Ramzan, his wife Raisa and their children: 17-year-old Luiza, 15-year-old Orshtkho, 11-year-old Laliska and 6-year-old Rakhim–laid down on the floor. The security forces then reportedly opened fire at the walls inside the home. After the shooting died down, it was discovered that Rakhim had been killed by a shot to the head, Kavkazky Uzel reported. His parents and neighbors then told a Regnum News Agency correspondent who arrived at the scene that they were convinced the security forces shot the child deliberately, not accidently. According to Regnum, security forces made the remaining members of the Amriev family, along with a group of neighbors, stand outside in bare feet: 22 people, only eight of whom are adults, were forced to stand outside without shoes for around a half hour. One mother was “roughly” prevented from putting socks on for he six-year-old child, the news agency reported.

In its account of the incident, Kommersant on November 12 quoted Ramzan Amriev as saying that three spetsnaz commandos had burst into his home, one of whom began shooting over the heads of the family members. The newspaper wrote: “At that moment, the Amrievs’ youngest son, six-year-old Rakhim, who was lying next to his mother ([and)] apparently frightened, jumped up. A bullet hit him in the back and he died on the spot. His mother, trying to shield her son, received a wound in the arm. After that, the spetsnaz forced the Amrievs outside and began to search the house. During the search, a Kalashnikov automatic rifle was found, but Ramzan Amriev contends that the weapon was planted. ‘They did that in order to escape punishment for the murder of a child: Rakhim supposedly accidently died during an exchange of fire,’ noted Mr. Amriev.”

The deputy head of the Chemulga administration, Aslan Amriev, told the Regnum News Agency that the security forces, who arrived in the village in six automobiles and two armored personnel carriers, had demanded that he tell villagers that someone had shot at soldiers from Ramzan Amriev’s house. Aslan Amriev said he refused to comply with the security forces’ demand despite the fact that they threatened to shoot him if he refused.

Kavkazky Uzel on November 10 quoted Ingushetia’s prosecutor, Yury Turygin, as giving his version of the incident. “Members of the special units blockaded the R. Amriev’s house and, according to them, they returned fire after they were fired on,” Turygin told journalists. “After that, during an inspection of the home, the body of the child was discovered with a head wound.” Turygin also claimed that it was Ramzan Amriev himself who was “a suspect in grave crimes” and the target of the special operation but that Amriev had not been found. Kavkazky Uzel also quoted the Ingushetian prosecutor’s office as claiming that security forces had found an automatic rifle and shell casings from automatic weapons of various calibers in the Amrievs’ home.

Despite Turygin’s comments, Kommersant reported on November 12 that the republic’s law-enforcement structures in fact had no claims against Amriev and had raided his house on November 9 in order to detain a certain Makhauri, who was on the republic’s wanted list for allegedly being a member of the “illegal armed formations.” Ramzan Amriev, for his part, told Kommersant: “Makhauri is our distant relative, but he lives in the village of Assinovskaya and has never stayed with us.” Amriev said he believed someone slandered his family and that the federal security forces targeted his home without verifying the accusation.

Kommersant quoted Bamatgiri Mankiev, a deputy in Ingushetia’s People’s Assembly, as saying that incidents in which federal siloviki target ordinary citizens without cause are becoming systematic. “The siloviki feel their impunity and therefore permit themselves such lawlessness,” he told the newspaper. Mankiev, who also heads the Ingush parliament’s commission for investigating human rights abuses, said that members of the republican parliament will make a special statement concerning the incident in Chemulga. “We will put before the federal authorities the issue of the responsibility of siloviki for violating the rights of local inhabitants,” he said, adding that the parliamentarians might demand the resignation of Ingushetia’s prosecutor, Yury Turygin. Mankiev asserted that Turygin was “clearly unable to handle the situation” and “rose in defense of the siloviki who killed the child.”

Kavkazky Uzel reported on November 10 that in the wake of the killing of six-year-old Rakhim Amriev, residents of Ingushetia are planning to hold a protest in Nazran on November 24. An organizing committee for the protest posted an appeal on the independent website stating that the aim of the protest is “to discuss the situation that has developed in the republic and appeal in the name of the people of Ingushetia to the president of Russia.” “Inhabitants of Ingushetia, fellow citizens, adults and youth, men and women, everyone who is not indifferent to the fate of our people, it is impossible to tolerate what is going on any longer,” the appeal stated. “Terrible things are happening here, but we are silent. The innocent are murdered – we are silent! Children are murdered – we are silent! The current leadership of the republic is busy only with enriching itself and is unable to end this lawlessness.”

Kavkazky Uzel on November 11 quoted one of the planned protest’s organizers as predicting that at least 10,000 people will participate. The website quoted Magomed Korigov, another organizer of the demonstration from the village of Sagopshi, as saying: “The republic’s current administration has completely discredited itself in the eyes of the people; it has no authority whatsoever. [(Ingushetian President Murat)] Zyazikov has brought so much harm to the people and the federal center has left so much vulnerable with its actions that the situation here is on the brink of a revolution.”

Kavkazky Uzel quoted Magomed Mutsolgov, head of the Ingush human rights NGO “Mashr,” as saying about the death of six-year-old Rakhim Amriev: “This is the most outrageous of all the cases of human rights violations that have happened in Ingushetia recently. A young child, who had only begun to live, suffered not during some sort of bandit settling of accounts or accidently as the result of ricocheting bullets, but from a direct gunshot to the head. It defies any explanation.” Mutsolgov added: “I believe that the leadership of the republic and country must immediately react to the incident. Those guilty must be taken into custody and called to account. The inhabitants of Ingushetia are indignant to the highest degree, and if urgent measures are not taken at all levels, a new wave of protests might begin in the republic, the consequences of which are hard to forsee.”

Kommersant on November 12 quoted Mutsolgov as saying that with the December 2 State Duma elections looming, the local authorities in Ingushetia will do everything possible to prevent the protest over the killing of Rakhim Amriev from taking place. If it does take place, Mutsolgov said, it will become a huge action against the administration of Ingushetia’s president, Murat Zyazikov. “The people are tired of the negligence of the authorities of Ingushetia,” he said.

Meanwhile, Kavkazky Uzel reported on November 14 that the United Nations Children’s Fund–UNICEF–released a statement stating its deep regret over the death of Rakhim Amriev and called on all sides to respect the lives of children, especially the right to life.