We’ve previously documented the shockingly long list of political murders of Kremlin enemies which have occurred on Vladimir Putin’s watch, with not a single mastermind of any such killing ever being brought to justice. Now, we can add yet another name to that horrible litany. The Moscow Times reports:
The owner of the embattled opposition web site Ingushetiya.ru was killed Sunday after being detained by police, and his supporters promised massive protests that could lead to a sharp escalation in violence in the restive region.
Magomed Yevloyev, a prominent opposition member and staunch critic of Ingush President Murat Zyazikov, was detained in Ingushetia’s main city of Nazran as he stepped off a plane from Moscow, his lawyer and friend Kaloi Akhilgov said by telephone. He said Yevloyev had flown in business class with Zyazikov, a retired general from the Federal Security Service, and suggested that the two might have quarreled during the flight. Ingush police said they had wanted to question Yevloyev in connection with an investigation into an explosion in Nazran earlier this year, Interfax reported.
Once inside the police car, Yevloyev, a Moscow-based lawyer and former investigator in the Ingush Prosecutor’s Office, attempted to wrestle an assault rifle away from one of the officers and was accidentally shot in the head during the scuffle, the police said.
Ingush opposition activist Magomed Khazbiyev said Yevloyev was found lying near a Nazran hospital with a bullet in his temple, Interfax reported. He died during an operation at the hospital, said Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for the Investigative Committee in the Prosecutor General’s Office. The Investigative Committee has opened an investigation into the death that might lead to charges being filed against the local police, Markin said, Interfax reported. Akhilgov said he was trying to pin down the details of what had happened but promised massive street protests. “He also has friends who can make those bastards in the local police pay for his death,” Akhilgov said.
Akhilgov said Yevloyev’s relatives took his body from the hospital on Sunday afternoon and were preparing it for the funeral. “There might be a civil war in Ingushetia after the relatives bury Yevloyev,” he said, without elaborating.
Ingushetiya.ru, known for its investigations into local government corruption, posted an appeal on the web site calling for “those who care about the fate of Ingushetia” to gather in Nazran. The web site has organized large street protests against Zyazikov in the past. Russia’s two most prominent human rights organizations, the Moscow Helsinki Group and Memorial, called on the authorities to investigate Yevloyev’s murder thoroughly and to punish those responsible.
Deadly attacks on law enforcement officials are common in Ingushetia, as are brutal crackdowns by police and security services onto critics of Zyazikov. Earlier in August, the Moscow City Court upheld a lower court’s decision in June to close Ingushetiya.ru on charges of carrying extremist content. The web site’s editor-in-chief, Rosa Malsagova, has fled Russia with her three sons and applied for political asylum in France, saying she and her family had received threats from Ingush officials. Prosecutors have also accused the web site of inciting ethnic hatred. Yevloyev, who also founded the web site, had said political pressure was behind the legal crackdown and insisted that Russian courts had no authority over the web site because it is registered in the United States.
The FinRosForum has this to say about the killing (they have ongoing coverage of the events following the murder):
The Finnish-Russian Civic Forum is shocked to hear about the killing today of Magomed Yevloev, the publisher of the Ingushetiya.ru website. Yevloev’s main contribution was to defend legality and the constitutional rights of all citizens of his republic. He stood away from the wave of violence raging in Ingushetiya. He was a man of peace in a region plagued by relentless and uncontrollable conflict.
Yevloev did not consider himself a dissident but said that it was only his duty to report events as truthfully as possible. Due to his extraordinary courage, Ingushetians were able to tell the world how flawed the election to thein Ingushetiya had been.
We remember Magomed Yevloev as a friend after he participated in the second Finnish-Russian Civic Forum in Helsinki in June 2008, speaking to the public and the press about the problems of censorship in today’s Russia. We send our most heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Magomed Yevloev.
Oborona says it is “shocked by the brazen assassination” which it believes was “carried out by the Ministry of Internal Affairs” and it “does not believe the absurd version” of the facts that the authorities are attempting to promulgate. It says the President of Ingushetia Murat Zyazikov bears “direct responsibility” for the killing, which was motivated solely by the desire to silence the reporter’s “stubborn and fearless desire to bring to residents of Ingushetia and Russia throughout the truth about the situation in his native republic.” It says that Russian president Vladimir Putin bears a share of the blame for the killing as well, having promoted the enviornment in which it occurred.