Moscow (AsiaNews) - Magomed Yevloyev, who was highly critical of the policies of the Kremlin, has been killed in police custody. The official explanation is that it was "an accident".
Magomed Yevloyev was founder and director of the website Ingushetia.ru, highly respected as a source of information in the region, and highly critical toward the president of Ingushetia, Murat Zyazikov, a close friend of prime minister Vladimir Putin and a former general of the KGB.
According to his website, Yevloyev was arrested on August 31 in Nazran (Magas), after arriving at the airport. President Zyazikov was on the same airplane. At the airport, Zyazikov ordered the police to arrest Yevloyev and to take him away in a car. His body was delivered to the hospital of Nazran with a gunshot wound to the head.
Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office, says it was "an accident": Yevloyev allegedly tried to take away the gun of a policeman, who shot him "accidentally". His colleagues and activists reject the explanation. The prosecutor has opened an investigation. Meanwhile, yesterday, in Nazran, around the coffin of the deceased, more than 1,000 people gathered in the main town square to call for Zyazikov's resignation.
With about half a million people, the majority of them Muslim, Ingushetia is one of the regions of the north Caucasus that has difficult relations with Moscow. In the past, it has been affected by the tensions between Russia and neighboring Chechnya. While Chechnya is now in a period of calm, in Ingushetia there has been an increase in clashes with guerrilla fighters and in pressure to secede from Russia.
The website Ingushetia.ru has long been a target for Russian authorities. Last June, it was ordered to shut down because it "disseminated extremist views". Last year, the site was blocked after it published protests against the local administration, which is accused of corruption.
Rosa Malsagova, editor in chief of the website, says she will seek asylum in France.
Russia seems to be one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists. Among the most important victims in this sector have been:
- Ivan Safronov, correspondent for Kommersant, who fell from the balcony of his home in March of 2007. The prosecutor blocked any investigation, and declared it "a suicide". Safronov had been investigating sensitive weapons sales.
- Anna Politkovskaya, a tenacious critic of then-president Putin, because of his abuses in Chechnya and the violence of the army. She was killed in front of her apartment in October of 2006.
- Paul Klebinov, editor of the Russian edition of the magazine Forbes, was killed on a Moscow street in July of 2004. He had published many reports on the shady dealings of the new Russian oligarchy.
- Yuri Shchekochikhin, deputy editor of Novaya Gazeta, was poisoned in July of 2003. It seems that he ingested radioactive substances that led to his death. He had gathered proof of the corruption of some high officials of the FSB, the successor to the KGB.