WP: Ingushetian Activist Shot Dead By Police
- Russian Activist Shot Dead By Police
By Philip P. Pan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, September 1, 2008; Page A09
MOSCOW, Aug. 31 -- A leading opposition figure in Russia's volatile
Ingushetia province was shot and killed Sunday after being detained by
police, authorities said. His colleagues issued a call for protests in
response, and human rights groups demanded an investigation.
Magomed Yevloyev, a businessman and the owner of a Web site that
angered Kremlin-backed local leaders with its coverage of official
corruption and police abuse, suffered a gunshot wound to his head
while in a police car taking him to a station for interrogation, a
spokesman for the Russian prosecutor's office told the Interfax news
A posting on Yevloyev's Web site, Ingushetiya.ru, which the Russian
government has been trying to shut down, called for a mass
demonstration Monday in Nazran, the main city in Ingushetia and the
scene of anti-government protests earlier this year that ended in
violent clashes with security forces.
The local government issued a statement saying that Yevloyev was shot
after trying to seize a weapon from one of the police officers holding
him. But a lawyer for Yevloyev ridiculed the explanation and said
police dumped Yevloyev on a road after shooting him.
"It was in no way a mistake," the lawyer, Kaloi Akhilgov, told the
Reuters news agency.
Yevloyev had just returned to Ingushetia after an absence of several
months. He was seized by a large group of police officers after
disembarking from a plane arriving from Moscow, according to a
journalist at the scene who spoke on the condition of anonymity
because he feared reprisals. The journalist said the regional
president, Murat Zyazikov, happened to be on the same flight and
called police to the airport after recognizing Yevloyev in the
Zyazikov, a former KGB officer and ally of Russian Prime Minister
Vladimir Putin, has been struggling to contain a low-grade Islamist
insurgency in Ingushetia, perhaps the most volatile of the
impoverished ethnic republics of Russia's north Caucasus region since
the government crushed a separatist rebellion in neighboring Chechnya.
The Ingush insurgents have staged a series of deadly attacks against
security officers and local authorities, and the local opposition has
accused Zyazikov of exacerbating the situation by responding with a
campaign of abductions, unlawful arrests and killings.
Tensions have been running high since last November, when government
forces allegedly killed a 6-year-old boy in a raid. Journalists from
Moscow who traveled to Ingushetia to investigate the case were
abducted, forced into a car with black bags over their heads and
abandoned half-naked in a remote area, human rights activists said.
Yevloyev was perhaps the most prominent member of the opposition in
Ingushetia and one of Zyazikov's most vocal critics. In a posting on
his Web site last year, he claimed that Zyazikov had put a $50,000
bounty on his head.
Because of government restrictions on journalists who visit the
region, Ingushetiya.ru has been one of the few sources of independent
information about the simmering conflict for the outside world. A
Russian court ordered it to shut down in June, accusing it of
disseminating "extremist" views, and the site's editor in chief, Roza
Malsagova, fled the country in July with her family.
But Yevloyev resisted the order, calling it "an attempt to silence the
last independent voice" in Ingushetia and saying Russian courts had no
jurisdiction over the site because it was based in the United States.