Activist and Journalists Kidnapped and Beaten in Ingushetia

In Nazran, the capital of Russia’s southern republic of Ingushetia, three journalists and a prominent human rights activist are recovering from a violent attack. On the night of November 23rd, masked men seized them from their hotel rooms, violently beat them, then abandoned them near a small village. The victims were in town to monitor an opposition demonstration against rising crime, police brutality and lawlessness in the region.

Oleg Orlov, the head of Memorial, one of Russia’s leading human rights organizations, was one of the victims. The other three were a television crew from the Moscow-based REN-TV. Two of the crew members were hospitalized for their injuries.

Orlov described his assailants as armed and masked men who claimed to be part of an anti-terrorist unit. They burst into the Hotel Assa, where Orlov and the crew were staying, appropriated their property, including cell phones, laptops and money, then threatening to kill the men. They then put bags over the men’s heads, and pulled them outside.

“They kept us in a truck for several hours, then took us out of the truck outside the town and beat us. Then they drove away leaving us in a field,” Orlov told Reuters.

Orlov linked the event to security forces, who he believes were trying to intimidate participants of this weekend’s country-wide opposition demonstrations, named “Dissenter’s Marches.”

“It was a blatant action of intimidation, they get paranoid,” he said.

The following day, around 300 people gathered at a banned protest in Nazran to speak out against the Ingush president, and to denounce rising levels of corruption and violence. Militsiya and MVD (Ministry of Internal Affairs) operatives fired warning shots in an attempt to disband the protest, and demonstrators responded by pelting the officers with fruit, eggs and stones. Security forces then attacked protesters with nightsticks. According to, more than 100 people were detained, several were seriously injured, and one man was killed.

Tension are rising in the republic. Ingushetia, which borders Chechnya, has seen ballooning levels of organized crime and violence in recent months, targeted mostly at ethnic Russians. Earlier this month, a 6-year-old boy was killed in a raid by FSB forces, who then planted arms and staged a fire-fight in an attempted cover-up.

Protest Shut Down