Paying The Ultimate Price For Investigating Atrocities

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 5 Issue: 18

In both Chechnya and Ingushetia, one of the most dangerous things a local official can do is to investigate atrocities against civilians by federal military and security personnel. A May 3 article by Moscow correspondent Alex Rodriguez of the Chicago Tribune reported the heroic but futile efforts of Rashid Ozdoev, an investigator for the Ingush procuracy. Earlier this year Ozdoev submitted a formal report accusing Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) of human rights violations in Ingushetia. His father, a retired judge, pleaded with him to abandon his self destructive quest for justice – but the 30-year-old Ozdoev persisted. In March he submitted another report, this time to the FSB’s national headquarters in Moscow.

According to the older Ozdoev, his son told him: “You can hardly imagine what kinds of terrible things they are doing to innocent people….I am paid exactly for monitoring the situation with human rights at these agencies. I cannot, in front of Allah, bring home my pay without doing the work I have to do.”

On March 11 Rashid Ozdoev’s car was halted by three other cars in northern Ingushetia. Ten gunmen wearing masks covered his and a companion’s heads with bags and drove them away. He has not been heard from since.