Ingush Police Battle Protesters in Nazran…

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 36

On September 19, security forces in Nazran, Ingushetia, clashed with demonstrators protesting the kidnapping of two brothers, reportedly by Federal Security Service (FSB) personnel. Usam Baisaev of the Memorial Human Right Center office in Nazran told Ekho Moskvy radio that the protestors were inhabitants of the village of Surkhakhi, two of whose residents, Marooned Osmanovich Aushev and Magomed Makharipovich Aushev, were abducted from the Chechen capital Grozny on September 18 and taken to Ingushetia. The protesters from Surkhakhi were joined by the relatives of other “disappeared” people: according to human rights groups, around 158 people have been abducted in the republic since 2002. Baisaev told Ekho Moskvy that according to the relatives of the Aushev brothers, the two were kidnapped by Federal Security Service (FSB) personnel. The brothers had arrived in Grozny from Astrakhan, where one of them had sought medical treatment and the other had submitted an application for a higher learning institute. They were in a taxi leaving the Chechen capital when they were kidnapped, Baisaev said. The Chechen Interior Ministry, meanwhile, said that none of the republic’s power structures was involved in the abduction. reported on September 19 that police attempted to break up the protest in Nazran but were met by stones hurled by the protesters, which injured several police, one of whom was hospitalized. RIA Novosti reported that the police then fired in the air, but the Regnum news agency reported that security forces in armored personnel carriers fired machineguns toward the crowd. The independent website reported that two protesters were wounded by the gunfire while Interfax quoted an anonymous law-enforcement source as saying the wounded protesters had not been hit by gunfire, but were taken to the hospital with minor injuries and bruises and then released. A deputy in Ingushetia’s parliament, Magomet Aushev, said that four people were wounded during the confrontation between the protesters and police and were in serious condition in the hospital. Aushev said the violence occurred when members of Ingushetia’s GAI traffic police along with several dozen members of the republic’s OMON special police unit arrived at the scene of the protest and demanded that the protesters disburse. The OMON then began to beat one protester with a truncheon, to which protesters responded with rock-throwing, after which the police began shooting over the protesters’ heads, Aushev said. The protesters lay down on the ground to avoid the gunfire, after which they responded again with rock-throwing, the Regnum news agency reported. Masked security forces then beat protesters with rifle butts, reported. The website quoted police as saying that Ingush President Murat Zyazikov had given the order to break up the protest. Zyazikov recently told Novye izvestia that he would not permit protest rallies in the republic (Chechnya Weekly, September 13).

The head of the Ingush human rights group Mashr, Magomed Musolgov, told Ekho Moskvy that more than 1,000 people participated in the protest and that nine members of the republican parliament’s commission for investigating human rights violations, as well as the republic’s Interior Minister, Musa Medov, had gone to speak to the protesters. reported that some of the protesters, mainly women, had tried to beat Medov, forcing him to leave the area.

Regnum reported on September 20 that the two abducted Aushev brothers had been freed and described their ordeal, reporting that their abductors had placed sacks over their heads and beaten them. The kidnappers spoke Russian and a language of “one of the peoples of the North Caucasus,” the brothers said, and forced them into a pit with rats. The brothers said they were later “dumped” in an unknown place, after which they made their way to Nazran. reported on September 20 that the protest in Nazran was continuing and that the Aushev brothers were expected to join it. reported on September 19 that members of Ingushetia’s parliament had sent a letter addressed to President Vladimir Putin, Prosecutor General Yury Chaika, Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliev and FSB Director Nikolai Patrushev, stating that the situation in the republic had sharply deteriorated following the abduction of the Aushev brothers and demanding that urgent measures be taken to find abducted people, ensure the observance of human rights guaranteed by the Russian constitution and stop extra-judicial killings and abductions. The republican legislators said that dozens of civilians had been abducted and killed without trials or investigations in Ingushetia during the past several years and that no proper investigations into such cases are being carried out. “Such deeds by the law-enforcement agencies discredit the federal authorities and cause fear and despair in society,” the letter stated, adding that the situation in Ingushetia could have unpredictable consequences and undermine efforts to stabilize the situation in the North Caucasus.