Police Violently Break Up Protest in Nazran

Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 8 Issue: 59

On March 23, an unauthorized demonstration was held in Ingushetia’s main city Nazran, during which protestors demanded that the republican authorities ascertain the fate of Ilez Gorchkhanov, a resident of Nazran’s Plievsky municipal district who had disappeared. Witnesses said the demonstrators, including friends and relatives of Gorchkhanov, held signs reading “Return Ilez!” and expressed the view that the special services were behind his disappearance.

A source told the Kavkazsky Uzel website that members of Ingushetia’s OMON police special tasks unit arrived at the scene of the demonstration along with members of other Special Forces units, fired in the air and then began to beat the protesters, including the father of Gorchkhanov, who was thrown to the ground and beaten with truncheons. Witnesses said that the head of Nazran’s police department, Movsar Tambiev, arrived at the scene of the demonstration in the city, along with Ingushetia’s Deputy Interior Minister, Isa Gireyev, and the acting secretary of the republic’s Security Council, Bekkhan Atigov, and that Tambiev was in charge of the operation to break up the protest.

On March 23, the day the demonstration took place in Nazran, several dozen armed men wearing camouflage uniforms and masks burst into the home owned by the father of Ingush opposition activist Magomed Khazbiev, who had taken part in the demonstration. The raiders beat Khazbiev and his two brothers, Murad and Berd, and then took them away. The raiders also seized Magomed Khazbiev’s car. Khazbiev was subsequently able to communicate with Kavkazsky Uzel, telling the website that he and his two brothers were being held by the Nazran police and that he had sustained a serious head wound from beatings at the hands of the police and that he was asking to be taken to the hospital.

Khazbiev’s sister, Khadi Khazbieva, told the website that his younger brother, Ali, was hospitalized with a broken nose and a closed cranio-cerebral injury. She said the raiders said that they were acting on the orders of the head of Ingushetia – i.e., the republic’s president, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov – and that they planned to seize all the family’s property and shoot the brothers. The Nazran police, for its part, reported on March 23 that it was seeking to charge Magomed Khazbiev as the organizer of the unsanctioned demonstration in Nazran.

The head of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Lyudmila Aleksyeva, said that after she was told about the detention of Magomed Khazbiev, she appealed to Russia’s human rights ombudsman, Vladimir Lukin, who promised to contact Ingushetia’s leadership and to do everything possible to secure Khazbiev’s release. Aleksyeva said she did not believe Yevkurov gave the orders to attack Khazbiev because the Ingush leader understood he would be blamed if something happened to the opposition activist.

In February, Magomed Khazbiev claimed he was poisoned in Moscow on the eve of a press conference he was planning to hold there on February 16 concerning the subject of recent disappearances, extra-judicial killings and planned protests in Ingushetia. The press conference was postponed due to Khazbiev’s illness and held on February 21 (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, March 23).

On March 24, the Ingush interior ministry said that Magomed Khazbiev was the organizer of the unsanctioned demonstration in Nazran the previous day and that he had been detained for instigating mass disturbances. That same day, Magomed Khazbiev and his brother Berd were each sentenced to 10 days of administrative arrest while five other participants in the demonstration were each sentenced to five days of administrative detention. The two brothers were supposed to be transferred from the Nazran police headquarters to the city’s remand prison but, according to their sister, they were taken to an unknown destination. Meanwhile, Ingush President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov was quoted as saying: “There is no worsening of the situation in the republic, but there are rogues who, by organizing a so-called demonstration, tried to call attention to themselves and resisted the law-enforcement bodies.” Kavkazsky Uzel, for its part, quoted witnesses who said the demonstration was peaceful and did not disturb public order.

Also on March 24, police searched the home of Zurab Tsechoev, an activist with the Ingush human rights group MASHR, in the village of Troitskaya in Ingushetia’s Sunzha district. Tsechoev said he was convinced that the search was connected to the fact that he had participated in the March 23 demonstration in Nazran (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, March 24-25).