EU-Russia Summit: Russia must avoid Chechnya mistakes in Ingushetia

On the eve of the European Union-Russia summit in Portugal on 26 October, Amnesty International is warning the Russian authorities not to repeat mistakes previously made in Chechnya in the neighbouring province of Ingushetia.

The appeal came as the Amnesty warned of an upsurge in the number of enforced disappearances, abductions and other human rights violations in Ingushetia.

Amnesty International Europe and Central Asia Programme Director Nicola Duckworth said:

"The often complete disregard for the rule of law by Russian federal forces during the conflict in Chechnya and the impunity with which they abducted, tortured and ‘disappeared’ members of the local population, have scarred the lives of thousands of people and undermined Russia's international standing.

“A repeat of the same tactics in Ingushetia would be unacceptable. When dealing with the volatile situation in Ingushetia, the Russian authorities must act in line with the law, in particular by ensuring that all detentions are carried out in accordance with Russian law and international human rights standards.”

Law enforcement officials in Ingushetia are reportedly conducting document checks and detentions without identifying themselves, and in some cases wearing masks. Incidents of particular concern to Amnesty International include:

* Ibragim Gazdiev, an ethnic Ingush, who was, according to witnesses, seized by armed men in camouflage, at 12.54pm on 8 August in Karabulak. He has not been seen or heard from since and according to unofficial information, might be being held in incommunicado detention in Ingushetia or in a neighbouring North Caucasus republic. The authorities however have officially denied that Gazdiev is being held. The prosecutor’s office is reported to have opened a criminal investigation into his abduction

* Three other men, still missing after being abducted in Ingushetia this year. A fourth man's whereabouts remain unknown after he went missing in March. Other men have been released, having been abducted - some of these have been ill-treated or held in secret detention, including in pits dug in the ground

* At least three men have been shot dead in the town of Nazran by law enforcement officers over the course of the year; while the authorities have stated the men had put up armed resistance, witnesses to the killings claim that the men were summarily executed. Similar incidents have been reported in the towns of Malgobek and Karabulak.

* In an apparently punitive raid on the village of Ali Yurt in July 2007, villagers were reportedly rounded up and beaten, while seven men were detained and taken to the building of the Federal Security Services in Magas, where some were reportedly ill-treated

* A number of other ethnic Ingush men are reported to have gone missing in neighbouring North Ossetia; their relatives believe they may have been detained by law enforcement officials and subsequently ‘disappeared’

Nicola Duckworth added:

"The Russian and Ingush authorities must put an immediate end to these human rights violations, and investigate all allegations effectively.

“The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Russia was responsible for grave human rights violations in the second Chechen conflict in 18 separate cases so far, and is due to consider many more. These violations must not be repeated with Ingushetia.”

Amnesty International is also concerned about human rights abuses reportedly committed by armed groups against civilians, including abductions.

The organisation has also received information that unknown gunmen are committing numerous attacks against civilians: members of ethnic Russian families have been killed and a bomb exploded at a funeral held for one of the victims, injuring several people; members of a Roma family, two Korean men and a Dagestani family have also been killed during such attacks. At the same time, armed groups have launched attacks, often fatal, against members of law enforcement agencies in Ingushetia.

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