(8 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
Ruslan Khautiyev, the deputy editor of the Ingushetiya.ru web site announced on Sunday that the site’s editor, Magomed Yevloyev, had been killed by Russian police. Khautiyev said that police arrested Yevloyev after arriving on a flight to the Ingushetiya province in Russia, took him away, and later dumped him on a road with a gunshot wound to the head. He died later in a hospital. However, an article from the BBC says that “local police said Yevloyev tried to seize a policeman’s gun when he was being led to a vehicle. A shot was fired and Yevloyev was injured in the head.”
The Russian government hasn’t been able to clear up the confusion:
In Moscow, Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said in a statement that Yevloyev was detained by police and died in an “incident” while being taken to police headquarters for an interrogation. Markin did not elaborate, saying that a check to clarify the circumstances of Yevloyev’s death had begun.
A Moscow court had ordered the Ingushetiya.ru web site be shut down in June, and the Russian government had filed charges against the site in July asserting that it was carrying extremist content and incited ethnic hatred. Yevloyev responded by calling the ruling unlawful and that the court didn’t have the authority to shut the site down because it was registered in the United States. On August 13th the Moscow City Court upheld the decision to shut down the site, but Yevloyev defied the court order and the site has remained in operation.
(Note — Ingushetiya.ru is a Russian-language site. It has an English version that does not appear to have been updated since November 2007.)
Ingushetiya is a province that borders the country of Georgia and the Russian provinces of North Ossetia and Chechnya. It’s population is mostly Muslim, and it has oil and natural gas reserves like other provinces in the region. Yevloyev frequently used his site to criticize the Russian government, its policies regarding Ingushetiya, and Ingush President Murat Zyazikov. The site frequently accused President Zyazikov of corruption and using local police to torture and kill local residents with suspected ties to Islamic rebels. The province has seen some of the same unrest as Georgia, Ossetia, and Chechnya, described in the BBC article as a “low-level insurgency, with regular small-scale ambushes against police and soldiers.”
Whatever the true circumstances of Magomed Yevloyev’s death turn out to be, it seems Russia is continuing to deal forcefully with dissent, especially in Muslim areas that have oil resources. A former editor of Ingushetiya.ru, Roza Malsagova, recently fled Ingushetiya to seek asylum in Europe, saying she had received threats against her and her children from “men dressed in camoflauge.” The proximity of Ingushetiya to the conflict between Russia and Georgia suggests that Yevloyev’s death, and the pressure on the dissenting Ingushetiya.ru web site, are part of a broader plan by Russia to assert tighter control over the region. Ingushetiya’s President Zyazikov is also a close ally of Vladimir Putin, and given the complaints against Zyazikov within Ingushetiya, may well owe his continued hold on power to Putin. No evidence of any role by Putin in Yevloyev’s death has been alleged at this point. But taken with Russia’s bold action into Georgia, “incidents” like this one may not be isolated.