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Attack on Oleg Orlov, Head of “Memorial” Board and journalists from REN TV in Ingushetia

25.11.2007    source:
This attack and abduction would appear to indicate a serious escalation in pressure on human rights groups and the media – silence now will be carte blanche

Around midnight from 23 to 24 November, men in masks and camouflage uniforms burst into the “Assa” Hotel in Nazran. They took away the Head of the Human Rights Centre “Memorial” Oleg Orlov and journalists from REN TV, flinging their things into a sack. The assailants spoke Russian without an accent and threatened members of the management with interrogation, saying they’d shoot them using their silencers.

Oleg Orlov and the journalists were taken to a place they didn’t recognize, beaten and ordered to get out.

Orlov, who according to his account, suffered less than the others, and the journalists, in their underwear and barefooted, managed to get to the police station in the village of Nesterovskoye. One of the journalists still had his telephone which Orlov used to contact the press and his colleagues.

From there they were taken to the Sunzhenkoye Police Station where they made a formal report of what had happened and made phone calls. The police officers gave the victims tea.

24 November 12.30

In the morning, Oleg Orlov and REN TV journalists Karen Sakhinov, Artem Vysotsky and Stanislav Goryachikh were taken to the Nazran Police Station where they gave reports.

According to members of the “Memorial” office in Ingushetia who came to Nazran, after taking their stories, the police refused to release the victims.  They said that they had received an order not to do so.

It was only around 11.30 that Oleg Orlov, who is represented by a “Memorial” lawyer was released.

Orlov reports that Artem Vysotsky and Stanislav Goryachikh were badly beaten and need medical aid. The doctor called to the police station recommended that Vysotsky be hospitalized however the police officers refused to allow this.

Member of the “Memorial” Board Svetlana Gannushkina has reported the incident to the Head of the Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation Ella Pamfilova, phoned the Prosecutor on duty and the Prosecutor of Ingushetia. When she demanded in the Prosecutor’s office that Artem Vysotsky be examined in a medical establishment, she was told that representatives of the prosecutor’s office had gone to the Nazran Police Station and would deal with the situation.

The police officers claim that they received information about the abduction at only 4.30 on in the morning of 24 November. However the Director of the “Assa” Hotel maintains that he not only telephoned to report from had happened immediately after the abduction, but went himself to the police station in the city to confirm this.

At 12.30 the journalists were still in the police station. The police have concentrated their efforts on ensuring that the opposition rally planned for 24 November does not get media coverage.

At 13.00 the journalists were allowed to go to a hospital.

We would point out that the Human Rights Centre “Memorial” addressed an open appeal several days ago to the Ingushetia authorities and the rally organizers. “Memorial” called on them to take measures to ensure that the rally was held in full accordance with the law. The appeal read: “Calling people out onto the street, you bear responsibility for their safety. Many people in the republic, without understanding the situation, could be exposed to danger to their life and health”.

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