Police in North Caucasus Break Up Rally for Slain Russian Reporter

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Police in the North Caucasus region of Ingushetia on Monday arrested rights activists and violently broke up a rally in memory of murdered reporter Anna Politkovskaya, who investigated torture in neighboring Chechnya, a rights activist said.

Security forces cordoned off a site in the center of Ingushetia’s main city Nazran as about 40 rights activists and others tried to gather, Natasha Estemirova, a Chechnya-based worker with the human rights group Memorial, said 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 Grozny, meanwhile, about 50 human rights groups, journalists and others, including some whom Politkovskaya had written about, rallied, carrying signs and photographs of the 48-year-old reporter who was gunned down in her Moscow apartment building Saturday.

“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.”

In a somewhat ironic moment, rally participants unable to find an empty frames in which to place photographs of Politkovskaya were forced to buy portraits of Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov and his assassinated father, Akhmad, and mount the photographs in their frames instead.

Politkovskaya had repeatedly accused Kadyrov’s security forces of abducting, torturing and killing innocent people and the newspaper 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.”

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