Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 7 Issue: 40

Police in Nazran, Ingushetia, on October 16 violently broke up a demonstration by dozens of activists demanding that the federal authorities find the killers of journalist Anna Politkovskaya. “In Nazran the meeting was broken up with brute force and five people were detained by the police,” Oleg Orlov of the Memorial human rights group told the Reuters news agency. “A young activist had her nose broken by a policeman who hit her in the face. The police threw our pictures of Politkovskaya onto the ground and stamped on them.” Novye izvestia on October 17 quoted Memorial staffer Shamil Tangiev as saying he took the activist who was beaten up, Yektaterina Sokiryanskaya, to the hospital, were she was diagnosed with a broken nose and a concussion. Interfax quoted Ingush Interior Ministry Beslan Khamkhoev as saying: “There was an attempt to hold an unsanctioned meeting. For some reason, there was a disagreement between the members of the meeting, which turned into a fight. To preserve order and safety, policemen were forced to intervene.”

Kavkazky Uzel reported on October 17 that three participants in the Nazran demonstration – Fatima Yandieva, Zoya Muradova and Zarema Mukusheva, all of whom are Memorial staffers – were fined 500 rubles (around $18.50) apiece for “violating the established order for holding a picket,” while local journalist Ruslan Maisigov was released after being briefly held by police. The organizers of the demonstration – Magomed Mytsolgov, chairman of “Marsh,” a group made up of relatives of people who have disappeared, and Albert Khantygov of Memorial – were set to appear in court on October 17 on charges of organizing an unsanctioned demonstration.

Earlier in the day, the Memorial activists whose demonstration was broken up in Nazran had held a demonstration in honor of Anna Politkvoskaya in the capital of neighboring Chechnya, Grozny. “They gathered at midday on Mayakovsky Square, not far from the organizers’ office and a few steps away from the Chechen government complex,” Novye izvestia reported. “In addition to Memorial, other human rights organizations took part in the action – ‘Materi’ [Mothers], ‘Lam’ [the “Lam” Center for Research and Popularization of Chechen Culture], ‘Ekho voiny’ [Echo of War]. They held up portraits of Anna, for the most part from the special edition of Novaya gazeta [published after her murder] and with the slogan: ‘We demand an objective investigation of the murder of Anna Politkovskaya!’ Although the murder threw practically all of Chechnya into shock, no more than 50 people came to Mayakovsky Square. According to Memorial staffer Usman Baisarov, they themselves [the demonstration’s organizers] – out of concern for security – did not inform the public [about the demonstration], so as to avoid a large crowd of people.”

Novye izvestia also noted: “All of the speakers used the most moving words in remembering the deceased, recalling examples of her dangerous work in the republic, admiring her courage. Even the men, who by Caucasian custom should not demonstrate their grief openly, showed obvious emotion in their voices.”

Unlike the demonstration in Nazran, the Grozny demonstration in honor of Anna Politkovskaya received official authorization and passed without incident. As Nezavisimaya gazeta noted on October 17: “When you consider that not a single mass action can take place in the republic without the approval of Ramzan Kadyrov, you can conclude that the Chechen prime minister decided to disassociate himself once again from the accusation of involvement in Politkovskaya’s murder.”

Vigils and rallies honoring Anna Politkovskaya were also held in other parts of Russia, including Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Saratov and Krasnoyarsk, as well as London, Paris, Helsinki, New York, and Washington.