Oct 16, 2006

Ingushetia: Russian Police Forces Break Up Rally for Reporter

Police in Ingushetia on Monday allegedly arrested rights activists and violently broke up a rally in memory of slain reporter Anna Politkovskaya.

NALCHIK, Russia (AP) -- Police in the troubled North Caucasus region of Ingushetia on Monday arrested rights activists and violently broke up a rally in memory of slain reporter Anna Politkovskaya, a critic of Russian policy toward neighboring Chechnya, an activist said.

Security forces cordoned off a site in the center of Ingushetia's main city of Nazran as some 40 rights activists and others tried to gather, Natasha Estemirova, a Chechnya-based worker with the organization Memorial, told The Associated Press by telephone.

Police tore photographs of Politkovskaya from demonstrators' hands and beat at least one person. At least three people were detained, including the head of the Ingush Red Cross, she said. Ingush Interior Ministry spokesman Nazir Yevloyev confirmed that some rally participants had been arrested but declined further comment.

In Chechnya's capital of Grozny, about 50 human rights groups, journalists and others, including some whom Politkovskaya had written about, commemorated the 48-year-old Novaya Gazeta reporter who was gunned down in her Moscow apartment building Oct. 7.

"The bullets stopped the journalist Politkovskaya but no one has been able to stop the business that Politkovskaya was focused on, " rights activist Shamil Tangiev said. "Human rights organizations will not stop until the truth about the ongoing rights violation in our republic is brought before society."

Politkovskaya had repeatedly accused Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov's security forces of abducting, torturing and killing innocent people. Novaya Gazeta last week published her last story that described alleged torture conducted by Kremlin-backed Chechen security services.

"This murder is a reflection of our reality," said Aset Malsagov, head of the non-governmental group Rights Defense. "They have reminded us that even the life of a great person means nothing."