Rights Activist Says FSB Controls Ingushetia’s Law-Enforcement Agencies

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 38

Magomed Mutsolgov, head of the Ingush human rights group Mashr, claimed in an interview with Sobkor.ru website published on October 3 that the Federal Security Service (FSB) has essentially taken control of the local law-enforcement bodies in Ingushetia. By way of evidence for his claim, Mutsolgov said that there have been numerous cases in which staffers of the republic’s police department and prosecutor’s office have been fired for trying to bring to justice federal siloviki who have committed murders and kidnappings in the republic.

Mutsolgov cited the example of the firing of Akhmed Murzabekov, the head of the GOVD (Main Department of Internal Affairs) in the city of Karabulak, who together with members of the local OMON special police unit had detained the killers of Apti Dolakov (Chechnya Weekly, September 6). The killers, who turned out to be FSB officers, were subsequently freed and Murzabekov lost his job. According to Mutsolgov, a similar case involved the inspector of the village of Sukhakhi, Tamerlan Izmailov, who lost his job after demanding that special services officers who were trying to detain a suspect present documentation authorizing the detention. Izmailov’s intercession prevented the extra-judicial abduction, Mutsolgov said. “The impunity of FSB employees increases the number of militants in the republic,” Mutsolgov told Sobkor.ru. “These [militants] are people who want to take revenge for their relatives. Practically every family in Ingushetia has members who were kidnapped or murdered.”

Mutsolgov said that the national media is presenting sanitized versions of what is taking place in Ingushetia, and that there is no longer any free media left inside the republic. He claimed that more than 500 people have been killed in Ingushetia over the year, and that not one of the 157 people who have been abducted has been found. “I understand that the leadership of the republic is building kindergartens, hospitals; that corn is growing in the fields; but it seems to me that a much more important topic is the unsolved murders of peaceful residents, yet nobody is reporting on it.”

Kavkazky Uzel on October 2 quoted an anonymous officer with one of Ingushetia’s “power structures” as confirming that officials had been recently ordered not to inform the media about “terrorist” incidents. “Of late, we have been forbidden to cooperate with the media and report to them information about incidents that are terrorist in nature,” the officer told the website. “I don’t know what this is connected to or where such an initiative originated from. Personally, I received such instructions from my boss.”

According to Kavkazky Uzel, official representatives of various power structures have been refusing to comment on reported attacks, claiming a lack of information. The website noted that not a single agency had confirmed reports of an attack by gunmen on an oil refinery located on the outskirts of Karabulak on the evening of September 21, an attack on an Interior Ministry armored personnel carrier in Ingushetia’s Sunzha district on September 26 or the attack on the headquarters of the Nazran GOVD on the evening of September 13.

“According to some information, the ban on the dissemination of ‘negative’ information was taken by local authorities, who have on more that one occasion expressed their displeasure over the fact that the media reports only negative information from Ingushetia, which contributes to inflaming the situation in the republic,” Kavkazky Uzel wrote. “According to other information, such an order came from Moscow.” The independent Ingushetiya.ru website claimed on September 24 that Ingushetian Interior Minister Musa Medov had given verbal orders to police not to record incidents of gun attacks, explosions and other “terrorist acts” (Chechnya Weekly, September 27). Kavkazky Uzel noted that Ingushetian President Murat Zyazikov has criticized the media for what he sees as “non-objective” reporting on events in the republic.

Meanwhile, the Aushev brothers – residents of the village of Surkhakhi in Ingushetia who were kidnapped in the Chechen capital of Grozny, taken to Ingushetia and subsequently freed after relatives led a protest demonstration in Nazran – have written a letter addressed to Russian officials, Russian human rights groups and international organizations, stating that they feared for reprisals from siloviki and asking for protection. Kavkazky Uzel reported on October 2 that in their letter, the Aushevs described their kidnapping and torture by security agents. According to the website, the brothers said that one of their kidnappers had warned that they would be killed if they went public about their ordeal. Given this threat, they wrote, “We earnestly ask you to protect us with all possible means from the unlawful actions of special services employees, from their outrages, and to take all possible measures to punish the people who committed this crime against us.”

However, Kavkazky Uzel quoted Aslambek Apaev, a North Caucasus expert with the Moscow Helsinki Group, as saying that not only do the authorities in Chechnya and Ingushetia have no plans to investigate the kidnapping of the Aushev brothers, but that the Ingushetian authorities may launch criminal proceedings against the people who participated in the demonstration in Nazran to protest their kidnapping. Several people were injured in that demonstration, which took place on September 19 (Chechnya Weekly, September 20).

Newsru.com on October 2 quoted relatives and neighbors of another pair of Ingush brothers, Said-Magomed and Ruslan Galaev, who were killed during a special operation conducted by republican and federal security forces in the village of Sagopshi on September 27, as saying that, contrary to official claims, the brothers had no links to the rebels and did not resist security forces. Officials claim that Said-Magomed Galaev was the emir of the militants in Ingushetia’s Malgobeksky district who went by the nom de guerre “Abdul-Malik” and say that two policemen were injured during the security operation in which the Galaev brothers were killed. Relatives of the dead brothers told staffers of the Memorial human rights group that their home was surrounded by more than 100 troops who arrived in two armored personnel carriers and ten trucks and who then burst into the home, killing the two brothers and hurling grenades.