Slain Opposition Leader Explains (video)

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Magomed Yevloyev, an opposition leader from the Russian Republic of Ingushetia, presented at the FINROSFORUM 2008 in June, describing the immense pressure on independent news media in Russia.

Yevloyev, who was shot in the temple on August 31st after being detained by police in Ingushetia’s largest city, Nazran, died short afterwards at an area hospital. Police maintain that he was killed accidentally, but supporters said his death was intentional.Yevloyev was the owner of, one of the Republic’s few media outlets not connected with the state. The site was a frequent voice of criticism of Murat Zyazikov, the president of the Republic, and its administration, and was known for its investigations of corruption. Since it was launched in 2001, the site has faced a number of lawsuits, and was ordered shut by a Moscow District Court in June. Its editor-in-chief, Roza Malsagova, fled Russia to seek political asylum in France, saying she feared for her life.

Yevloyev was flying to Ingushetia from Moscow on the same flight as Zyazikov, and was detained quickly after he disembarked. Two of his supporters, Magomed Khazbiev and Maksharip Aushev, tried to free the opposition leader, chasing after the police motorcade in their own cars. Khazbiev acknowledged that the two beat up several militsiya officers and took away their arms and identification. Khazbiev and Aushev have now been charged for assaulting police and stealing weapons, charges that carry a maximum of 5 and 12 years jail time, respectively.

Zyazikov has maintained that he did not argue during the flight with Yevloyev, as was reported earlier. Still, a source within Russia’s presidential administration told the Vedomosti newspaper that the scandal may lead to Zyazikov’s resignation. “There is a bad situation with Zyazikov,” the source said. “We will keep thinking about it.”

Yevloyev’s family, meanwhile, has made calls to avenge his death, and police categorically refused to give the name of the suspect in Yevloyev’s killing, citing concerns for his safety.

Opposition activists in the region said Yevloyev’s death was not an accident, and accused Ingushetia’s Interior Minister, Musa Medov, of direct involvement. A criminal investigation has been started, on charges of manslaughter.

“Magomed was not killed accidentally,” said Kaloi Akhilgov, the attorney for “He did not put up any resistance during the arrest, knowing that there was no point in doing so. He couldn’t fight back in the militsiya car either. Consequently this was a deliberate killing, and we will press for the criminal case to be transferred under this article [of the criminal code].”

Vigils to honor Magomed Yevloyev’s memory have been held in Moscow (photos and video) and Finland (video).

Video transcript:

[Magomed Yevloyev speaking]

Hello. I just now heard Timo Kiravuo’s report on the topic of website blocking.. in Saudi Arabia, and came to the conclusion that just about the same formula is being used against the website at the present moment. So, a so-called stopping plug, though a little bit differently, is established on the routers. When a person opens the IP address of, a page appears that says it’s impossible to display the page. Certain providers do this. was created by me in 2001, in order to illuminate at least a little bit the situation of the Republic. In our Republic, only state-run mass-media outlets were operating. Two newspapers, one state television channel, and several small regional media outlets. We did not have any other media sources that could cast any light on the situation, that could speak about the cultures and traditions of the people of Ingushetia.

From the first moment the site was created, we adhered to a policy of objectivity. If something good happened, we would write about the good. If it was bad, we would write about the bad. But we displayed everything as it really happened in our Republic.

And we didn’t expect it ourselves.. When I was making the site I didn’t have any plan to make it such an well-visited resource, we wanted to make it an ordinary site which would display the situation. But from the very start, we became an actively popular site, and reached almost 40%– 30 to 40% of the population of Ingushetia. Because people didn’t just look at it on the internet, people would print the materials and distribute them on paper.

Starting in 2003, I was a person who had no relation, neither to human rights work, nor politics. I was engaged in a law practice. And then starting in 2003 I started sensing that speaking the truth about the country, and speaking the truth about the situation is accompanied by persecution, problems for business and everything. And all this, from 2003, the persecution started. They started to persecute me, and the site, accusing it of inciting ethnic hatred, of inciting..publishing extremist materials.

Over the course of two-three years, around 8 criminal cases were launched against me and against the people working with the site.

As it was, we didn’t have journalists. We had one employee who was considered a journalist, and two times, his building’s courtyard was pelted with grenades. His house was fired on.

There were other moments.. And the lawsuits, of course, started in 2004 and 2005. There were suits for the site’s closure.. on the closure.. on the cessation of its broadcast on the territory of Ingushetia. So, for the first time in all of Russia, the issue of filtering a web-site’s IP address was raised, I think, on the territory of Ingushetia.

In November 2007, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ingushetia obligated, not under the basis of the law or any kind of court decision, simply obligated all the providers, the three internet providers that work on the territory of Ingushetia to block access to the website. Which they did.

After the blocking system was introduced, our traffic across Ingushetia increased two times over. So, they gave us good publicity, and people started, people learned to get around the block using anonymizers, using… they started to buy.. the companies, the satellite companies that provide internet access.. these companies made a fortune in one month, because around 2000 satellite dishes were purchased to connect to the internet.

Ingushetia’s prosecutor’s office continued its battle with the site, and to legalize the blocking system used by local providers, won in a local court, the Nazran Regional Court, won a court decision on limiting access to our site.

Those judicial decisions were made in secret, without the participation of a representative of our site. There was a moment when we thought that the courts had taken our side, because Russia’s Supreme Court dismissed two appeals from the Ingush prosecutor on the site’s closure. However, the Ingushetia Prosecutor’s Office brought a lawsuit on my place of resident in Moscow, the Kuntsevo district of Moscow, and two weeks ago, well, a week ago, the Kuntsevo district court carried out a decision to close the website. The Kuntsevo district court in Moscow.

The decision hasn’t come into force yet. We have appealed it. But considering how boldly the Prosecutors are acting, and how the courts are behaving, who for some reason are very afraid. And depending on the Prosecutor’s Office, it seems to me that the decision on closing will be enacted.

And in Ingushetia, and those who know the site, and who watch it is a huge audience, and they all understand perfectly that the site’s prosecution is taking place for strictly political reasons. For the fact that it presents opposition forces, and raises problems, speaks the truth, and is absolutely not under the control of local authorities.

In practice, the people we deal with say that [authorities] are taking away a source of truth, and are pushing people, the people of the Republic into visiting more extremist websites, which can be freely opened in Ingushetia. That is to say, the rift between the public and the authorities is increasing. And people are pressed into actual extremism and other methods in the struggle for justice. To armed struggle, the departure of the youth to the mountains. That is to say, they are taking away the legal methods of learning the truth about the situation.

Even if we close the site, as they say, nature abhors a vacuum, I am absolutely certain that, because we have enough Ingush abroad, a site will appear which… for this audience who visited this site, well a site, а severely extremist site.

That’s why, essentially, the actions of the Ingush Prosecutor’s Office and the courts lead to, and I told this to the Kuntsevo court, lead to the growth of extremism and the escalation of the situation.

We also believe that the whole situation happening in the Republic: the explosions, the terrorist attacks, and at the same time the extrajudicial executions, the kidnappings. This whole situation, when it is displayed on only one internet resource, on ours. There is not a word, if you look now at the… there’s an official Ingushetia website. There is not one incident, not one fact of human rights violations, there is not one publication on that site.

That is to say, the government wants the people to know nothing about this, and wants to keep lining its pockets, because the corruption there is severe. And it thinks that by closing the site, the problem is solved. Well, I’m done.

To the question of which media outlets will remain if is closed, I’ll answer that if is closed, there will be not be any independent media left. But if the decision will go into effect, and I will be compelled to close it, I will write in the news column of the site, that the website is closed, and the court order is executed. And if it continues to operate, I will say, I will answer.. that I don’t know why it’s running.

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