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Cablegate: Human Rights Watch Warns Gor On Violence In

VZCZCXRO7241
OO RUEHLN RUEHPOD RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #1862 1831301
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 011301Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8817
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS MOSCOW 001862

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREF PTER KDEM KJUS SOCI RS
SUBJECT: HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH WARNS GOR ON VIOLENCE IN
INGUSHETIYA

1. (SBU) Summary: In a June 25 press conference in Moscow,
Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned that if the Russian
government continues to use counterinsurgency techniques in
Ingushetiya and does not address previous human rights
violations, the situation there could deteriorate to the same
level that plagued Chechnya during the two Chechen wars waged
by the GOR. Ingushetiya's Human Rights Ombudsman
Kerim-Sultan Kokurkhayev attended the briefing and vehemently
denied that the situation in Ingushetiya was as bad as HRW
claimed in its report. End Summary.

2. (SBU) In a press conference held on June 25, HRW's Moscow
branch released its latest report on the situation in
Ingushetiya titled "As if they Fell from the Sky." Rachel
Denber, the New York-based Deputy Director of HRW's European
and Central Asian Division, joined Tanya Lokshina from HRW's
Moscow office and Aleksandr Cherkasov of the Moscow-based
Human Rights organization Memorial to present the report. It
details the worsening situation, characterized by a rising
level of violence, abductions and civilian deaths in
Ingushetiya in 2007 and early 2008. The report was based on
evidence acquired through a series of interviews conducted by
HRW staff in December 2007. Cherkasov reported 29 abductions
of civilians in 2007, and approximately 40 persons killed by
government security officials. Denber, who peppered her
presentation with comparisons to human rights abuses by
coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, cautioned that
Russia's counter-terrorism efforts are unnecessarily
worsening the human rights situation in Ingushetiya.
Lokshina described the situation there as "similar to
Chechnya, if on a smaller scale," and one in which young
people are the most affected. She added that the actions of
the government's security forces are undermining popular
support for the government.

3. (SBU) HRW called for reformed counter-terrorism
legislation to guarantee that detainees are either promptly
charged with an offense or released. HRW also urged the
government to improve access for journalists and
international monitors.

4. (SBU) The press conference ended with a fiery
intervention by Ingushetiya Ombudsman Kerim-Sultan
Kokurkhayev. Indignant for not having received an official
invitation to the event, Kokurkhayev denounced HRW's
continued reliance on 2007 figures, contending that the
situation had improved and that in 2008 there had been no
abductions. Kokurkhayev dismissed the report as "American
propaganda" and asserted that Ingushetiya was in fact "no
worse off than any of its neighbors." He also pointed out
that federal, not local, forces had carried out most, if not
all, of the actions detailed in the report and that residents
of Ingushetiya were more likely to be abused in temporary
detention centers in North Ossetiya to which they were often
transported.

Comment
-------

5. (SBU) The events of the press conference highlight the
explosive nature of events of Ingushetiya and elsewhere in
the North Caucasus. HRW contended that the situation is
getting worse, while Ingush authorities asserted it is
better. The truth is somewhere in between. Kokurkhayev was
correct that the overwhelming majority of the report is based
on events from 2007; however within the document itself
evidence suggests that the situation is not as stable as he
alleges. According to statistics from Ingushetiya Interior
Minister Musa Medov cited in the report, there were 28
attacks against members of law enforcement from January to
March 2008. The rate of attacks in spring 2008 was similar
to that of fall 2007, with several occurring per week. The
official website of the government of Ingushetiya
corroborated Kokurkhayev's assertion that there have been no
abductions in Ingushetiya in 2008. Even the opposition there
asserted that the kidnappings and abductions stopped after a
string of protests organized by family members at the end of
2007. While there still is still a high level of violence,
as Lokshina pointed out, it is clearly not of the scale seen
during the two Chechen wars.
RUSSELL

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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