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Russia31 August 2008

Ingush news website owner shot dead while held by interior ministry officials

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Journalist Magomed Yevloyev, one of the creators of the Ingush news website Ingushetiya.ru (http://ingushetiya.ru), was shot dead today while held by interior ministry officials in Nazran (in the southern Russian republic of Ingushetia). He was arrested as he disembarked at Nazran airport from a flight which Ingush President Murat Zyazikov had also taken. He was admitted to a hospital an hour later with a gunshot wound to the head and died on the operating table.

“We are outraged by the death of Yevloyev, who repeatedly demonstrated his courage and determination by reporting independent news in Ingushetia, although he and his family were harassed and threatened,” said Reporters Without Borders. “His death must not go unpunished. It is vital that the international community, especially the European Union, should demand to know what really happened and who was responsible. The explanations given by the Ingush authorities make no sense.”

The Ingush interior ministry said Yevloyev was killed “accidentally” while resisting arrested. But government opponent Magomed Hazbiyev, who had gone to the airport to meet him, insisted that government agents deliberately shot him while he was in their car.

Yevloyev had been the target of serious threats and, in October 2007, he accused President Zyazikov on the website of hiring hit-men to kill him. His family has also received threats from Ingush politicians. Fearing that her life was in danger, the website’s editor, Rosa Malsagova, left Russia earlier this month and sought political asylum in the European Union.

A Russian court ordered Ingushetiya.ru’s closure on 26 May for publishing “extremist” articles. The only Ingush-language news portal, it has been the target of repeated smear campaigns. The Ingush authorities created a website in March with a similar address to combat its news reports.




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