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Ingush head to be summoned as witness in attack on activists and journalists

16 May 2017

Ingush Head Yunus-Bek Yevkurov is likely to be summoned to court to testify in the case surrounding an attack on journalists and human rights activists in Ingushetia on 9 March 2016. Yevkurov’s testimony was requested by the victims’ lawyers.

Activists from Russian human rights group the Committee for the Prevention of Torture believe that Yevkurov may know who attacked them and the journalists during a press tour to Chechnya and Ingushetia on 9 March 2016. Russian daily Kommersant has reported that Yevkurov revealed that he knew their identities during a conversation with activists in 2016.

According to Igor Kalyapin, the head of the Committee for Prevention of Torture, Yevkurov told activists in a meeting in June 2016 that ‘the people who attacked your office and the bus on the road are not who you think they are. I can tell you now that they are not from Chechnya. So if you have firm convictions that the siloviki [security forces] arrived from Chechnya — no, not Chechnya.’

The attack occurred on the outskirts of the village of Ordzhonikidzevskaya, near Ingushetia’s border with Chechnya. Armed assailants attacked a minibus carrying journalists and activists from the Committee for the Prevention of Torture; all of them were beaten and the bus was burnt. Around the same time, the organisation’s Ingushetia office in the city of Karabulak was attacked by an unknown group.

An investigation was launched for hooliganism and deliberate destruction of property. Yevkurov labelled the incident ‘a provocation’, and Russian President Vladimir Putin called for a clarification of all the circumstances surrounding the incident.

However, in February 2017, lawyers for the victims claimed that the investigation had been suspended. The reason given was that no suspects had been identified. The victims now hope that the Ingush head will inform the investigation of his supposed awareness of their identity.

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