Russia: latest attack on a Memorial human rights activist condemned

‘For too long we have observed a lack of action by the Russian authorities in response to attacks’ - Denis Krivosheev

Today’s brutal assault on Sirazhutdin Datsiev, the head of the Human Rights Centre Memorial’s office in Dagestan, North Caucasus, is the latest in a spate of troubling attacks on individuals associated with Memorial, Amnesty International said today. 

According to an eyewitness, Mr Datsiev was outside his house in the Dagestani capital Makhachkala when he was approached from behind by an unknown man. The man delivered a severe blow to Datsiev’s head and then kicked him once when he was on the ground. Datsiev had to be taken to the neurosurgery department of the area’s main hospital by ambulance. 

Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia Deputy Director, said:

 
“This ferocious attack continues the string of assaults on the staff and property of Human Rights Centre Memorial in the North Caucasus. 

“The frequency and severity of these assaults, and the total impunity for those who commit them, point to the Russian authorities’ negligence and begs the question of their possible complicity.

“For too long we have observed a lack of action by the Russian authorities in response to attacks against rights defenders in the North Caucasus - in Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia and the neighbouring Krasnodar Region.”

String of attacks on Memorial and other human rights groups

Human Rights Centre Memorial -  a frontline human rights group in Russia, and particularly in the North Caucasus - has been the focus of a string of disturbing attacks in recent years, with its offices in Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia all coming under attack or being burnt down multiple times.

In 2009, Natalia Estemirova from Memorial’s Grozny office in Chechnya, was abducted near her home and killed; her attackers were never found. 

On 9 January this year, the head of Memorial’s office in Chechnya, Oyub Titiev, was arrested on trumped-up charges of illegal drug possession. Shortly after, the office of Memorial in Nazran, Ingushetia, was burnt down. The perpetrators have not been identified.  

Late the same, month, on the night of 23 January, a car used by members of staff of Memorial in Dagestan was burnt, followed by anonymous threatening text messages promising further reprisals. 

Meanwhile, in another disturbing attack on a human rights activist, Andrei Rudomakha, Coordinator of the NGO Environmental Watch for the North Caucasus, was severely beaten by three men on 28 December, receiving head injuries. His assailants have not 

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