Death of website publisher shows deterioration of media freedom in Russia
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Russian and Ingush human rights organizations, as well as OSCE (Organization
for Security and Cooperation in Europe), are asking for an investigation
into the circumstances of the murder of Magomed Yevloyev, the publisher of
ingushetiya.ru, an independent news website in Ingushetia region.
Yevloyev was a strong critic of Ingush President Murat Zyazikov. His website
had reported on alleged Russian security force brutality in Ingushetia, a
poor Russian region of about half a million people, mostly Muslims. Yevloyev
was detained on 31 August by local Interior Ministry officials at Magas
airport as he was returning to Ingushetia from Moscow and, according to the
police, he was accidentally shot in the head while driven in a police car.
“Evloev is a well-known figure, perhaps, the main oppositional figure in
Ingushetia. His death under such suspicious circumstances can’t but cause
questions,” said Tatiana Lokshina, deputy director of Moscow office of Human
Miklos Haraszti, the OSCE’s representative on freedom of the media, said
Yevloyev’s death “is the culmination of an orchestrated campaign by the
authorities of Ingushetia to silence the only critical voice in the region.
Similarly to the 2006 murder of Anna Politkovskaya, this assassination
represents a further deterioration of media freedom in Russia.” He also
stated that ingushetiya.ru had faced continuous pressure from the
authorities, adding: “Only two months ago, I protested against the legal
harassment of ingushetiya.ru and warned that official persecution of free
journalism could result in violence”. He also stated that Russia had to live
up to its OSCE commitments and support, “rather than repress,” free debate,
free reporting, and media pluralism.
The “Mashr” human rights organization which has conducted its own
investigation into the circumstances of Yevloyev’s death, commented: “If
the evidences of eyewitnesses that we have registered are true, there are
grounds to suspect President of Ingushetia Murat Zyazikov and Minister of
Internal Affairs Musa Medov of participation in Magomed Evloev’s murder.”
During Yevloyev’s funeral, on 1 September, an anti-government protest
started in Nazran. The Russian police and special forces dispersed the
demonstrators by firing warning shots and hitting the demonstrators with
batons. The demonstrators were asking for the resignation of Ingushetia’s
Kremlin-appointed governor, Murat Zyazikov, who has been many times
criticised by human rights groups and local activists for the disappearances
of several people in the region.
Human rights organizations demanded that the investigation of Yevloyev’s
death should be entrusted to the federal and not local investigators.
OSCE Says Yevloyev Killing the ‘Culmination Of Orchestrated Campaign’
Police ‘break up Ingush protest’ (2.09.2008)
Kremlin critic shot in Ingushetia (31.08.2008)
Russian police break up demo over Kremlin critic’s death (3.09.2008)
Zyazikov and Medov suspected of participation in murder (4.09.2008)