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Chechnya’s ombudsman: Attack at journalists "planned action with political overtones"

March 10, 16:42 UTC+3 GROZNY
Nurdy Nukhazhieyev does not rule out that the action on the border between Chechnya and Ingushetia was organized so that "the news goes beyond the country’s borders and is put in political context"
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Nurdy Nukhazhieyev

Nurdy Nukhazhieyev

© TASS/Alexey Nikolsky

GROZNY, March 10. /TASS/. The attack at the group of human rights activists and journalists in Ingushetia is a planned action with political implications, Chechnya’s ombudsman Nurdy Nukhazhieyev told reporters on Thursday.

"The attack is certainly outrageous and requires a thorough investigation. Talking about the essence of what happened, one should probably ask himself a question — who benefits from it? My personal opinion is that is looks more like a planned action with political overtones. And those who benefit from it are those who organized this action and paid for it," Nukhazhieyev said.

The ombudsman said that this is not a coincidence that journalists and human rights activists were attacked on the border between Chechnya and Ingushetia. "I am confident that someone else is behind this, and he aimed, unlike the participants of the ‘raid’, to sow the seed of discord, suspicion and distrust between our peoples once again," he noted.

Nukhazhieyev does not rule out that the action was organized so that "the news goes beyond the country’s borders and is put in political context."

Attack at journalists in North Caucasus

On Wednesday member of the Russian presidential council on development of civil society and human rights, chairman of the Committee on torture prevention Igor Kalyapin said that a group of human rights activists and journalists were attacked near the border between Ingushetia and Chechnya. "Approximately at 7:15pm, a group of unidentified persons moving in three vehicles attacked a group of human rights activists from the Free Mobile Group and journalists on the border between Ingushetia and Chechnya. Journalists and human rights activists were beaten up. Cellphones were seized from the two of them. The car of human rights activists was damaged and set on fire," the website of the Russian presidential council on development of civil society and human rights cited Kalyapin as saying.

It was reported that around 20 unidentified persons attacked the group of human rights activists and journalists heading for Chechnya. Six people were injured in the attack, and four of them sought medical aid. Among those injured are a citizen of Sweden and a Norwegian journalist.

The criminal case has been opened in Russia’s North Caucasus Republic of Ingushetia over Wednesday’s attack at the mini-bus with human rights activists and journalists in the city of Sunzha, the republic’s Interior Ministry told TASS on Thursday. "The search operation is currently underway for establishing persons who committed this attack," the Interior Ministry said adding that the criminal case was opened on charges of "hooliganism" and "deliberate damage of property."

Kremlin reaction

Earlier on Thursday presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin was angry over the attack on a bus that was carrying journalists and human rights activists in Ingushetia.

"It was an absolutely outrageous act of hooliganism," he said. "As far as we understand, people’s lives were at risk there - judging by the information that we have."

"We do expect the republic’s law enforcement agencies to take the most effective measures to search for and track down those responsible for the attack in order to properly ensure the security of human rights activists and mass media, those involved in the incident, and everybody else," Peskov said.

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