Leading Rights Activist Meets with Zyazikov

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 9 Issue: 35

Lyudmila Alekseyeva

The head of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Lyudmila Alekseyeva, met with Ingushetia’s president, Murat Zyazikov, and other republic officials in Magas, Ingushetia’s capital, Newsru.com reported on September 16. Immediately after the meeting, Interfax quoted Alekseyeva as saying: “The meeting with Murat Zyazikov lasted more than two hours. He was very courteous. The conversation was very emotional. It was mainly the president of the republic who spoke during the meeting, and I listened. That’s what I came for—to listen.”

Alekseyeva said on September 16 that she had not yet drawn any conclusions based on her conversations with officials in Ingushetia, but confirmed that besides meeting with Zyazikov, she also met with the republic’s premier, parliamentary speaker, Interior Minister and chief prosecutor. She said that among the topics of discussion was the death of Magomed Yevloev, owner of the opposition Ingushetiya.ru, died on August 31 from a gunshot wound he sustained while in police custody. Ingush officials say Yevloev was shot accidentally when he tried to grab a gun from a police officer, but Yevloev’s relatives and associates insist that he was assassinated (North Caucasus Weekly, September 5). “The prosecutor of Ingushetia said that a criminal case has been launched and that an investigation is continuing,” Alekseyeva said in reference to Yevloev’s death. “I asked what explains a strange thing—that attacks in Ingushetia are targeted mainly at policemen and officials. They answered that a terrorist underground apparently exists. The leadership of Ingushetia talked about the socio-economic development of the republic and expressed pain and alarm about the situation of Ingush refugees who cannot return to North Ossetia’s Prigorodny district. The prosecutor of the republic [of Ingushetia] said people are living in difficult conditions and that this, in his view, is one of the factors that is causing tension.” (As Kavkazky Uzel reported on September 17, Zyazikov has denied press reports that tension is growing in Ingushetia.)

Alekseyeva also met with one of the leaders of Ingushetia’s opposition, Maksharip Aushev, as well as with representatives of human rights groups and other public organizations in the republic. “People complained about the violation of their rights by members of the power structures,” she said. “There were complaints about the detention and kidnapping of people in Ingushetia. It’s mainly young people who are disappearing, and this is very troubling.” Alekseyeva said she planned to have more meetings with opposition members, human rights activists and to meet with relatives of Magmoed Yevloev and well as ordinary citizens. Alekseyeva said that she would make public her conclusions drawn from her trip to Ingushetia by the end of September.

Kavkazky Uzel noted on September 17 that human rights activists in Ingushetia are concerned about the murder of Magomed Yevloev, the recent murder of Murat Zyazikov’s cousin (North Caucasus Weekly, September 11), and the “constant armed attacks” on members of the republic’s law-enforcement bodies and government officials. Gzt.ru noted on September 17 that while a delegation of members of Russia’s Public Chamber headed by Aleksandr Brod, director of the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights, recently visited Ingushetia and concluded that there is not, in Brod’s words, a “protest mood” in the republic, Lyudmila Alekseyeva said she was traveling to Ingushetia on what she called a “peacemaking mission.”

Meanwhile, police in Ingushetia carried out searches of the offices and homes of two Ingush opposition leaders, Maksharip Aushev and Magomed Khazbiev, on September 15. Aushev and Khazbiev, both of whom were close associates of Magomed Yevloev, are being investigated for allegedly using force against law-enforcement personnel in an attempt to seize their service revolvers. Kavkazky Uzel quoted Khazbiev as saying that the police officers who conducted the searches were probably looking for weapons and that during the search of his home, the area where he lives was completely blocked off by security personnel, some of whom arrived in armored personnel carriers and among whom were K-9 units. Aushev said that the security personnel who searched his home included K-9 units and men with metal detectors, and that his office in Nazran was also searched.

Khazbiev said that the case against him and Yevloev is fabricated. “In its accusations that we took away weapons, the [Ingush] ministry of internal affairs cited what I supposedly said in an interview with the newspaper Kommersant: that I and Maksharip Aushev really did take weapons off of two Ingush MVD employees—Albogachiev and Ozdoev,” Khazbiev told Kavkazky Uzel. “Yes, I gave an interview to the newspaper, but I did not say anything about taking away weapons … And I found out about the criminal case from news reports.”