Human rights activist abducted in Chechnya



GROZNY- Armed men abducted the leader of a human rights group and her husband in the troubled Russian republic of Chechnya Monday, leading members of two other groups said.
"Today, towards two o'clock, unidentified armed men got into the offices of Let's Save the Generation and abducted its leader, Zarema Sadulayeva, and her husband," said Alexander Cherkasov of Memorial, the Interfax news agency and Moscow Echo Radio reported.



Human rights activist abducted in Chechnya
"They have taken them away to an unknown destination. They came back into the NGO's office and took the mobile telephone and the car of the husband," he added.
They had no word on where they were, he added.
One of Memorial's own activists, Natalya Estemirova, was abducted and murdered in July, sparking an international outcry.
Another senior human rights worker and a former colleague of Sadulayeva told AFP earlier: "A gang came into her office around midday while she was working and then forced her into a car.
"There has been no news of her since," the colleague said, asking not to be named.
Cherkasov said the interior ministry and the Russian federal security service, the FSB, have been informed of the abductions.
Sadulayeva's husband, Alik Djibralov, had been jailed for four years for links to illegal armed groups, said Cherkasov. He had married Sadulayeva two months after leaving prison, he added.
But a police source quoted by Interfax said they were skeptical about the kidnapping, as "according to witnesses, Sadulayeva and her husband got into the car voluntarily and under no physical coercion."
Let's Save the Generation works with young people in Chechnya who have been marginalised, helping them get back on their feet to prevent them joining any of the armed groups in the unstable region.
"I thought that after Estemirova's murder there would be a pause -- but now it is obvious that violence against rights activists has become a standard practice," the head of Moscow Helsinki Group, Lyudmila Alexeyeva, said as quoted by Interfax.
The body of Memorial's award-winning activist Estemirova was found shortly after she was seen being bundled into a car outside her home in the Chechen capital Grozny on July 15.
In the wake of her killing, Memorial chairman Oleg Orlov accused Chechnya's pro-Kremlin leader Ramzan Kadyrov of being responsible for the murder, irrespective of who ordered the crime.
He refuted the allegation on Monday, saying in an interview with Radio Svoboda, the Russian service of Radio Free Europe: "Why should Kadyrov kill a woman who was useful to no-one?
"She was devoid of honour, merit and conscience," he added.
Kadyrov is praised by the Kremlin for restoring some stability to the Caucasus region but is detested by human rights activists who accuse him of letting his personal militia carry out kidnappings and torture.
Cherkasov said that Kadyrov's comments showed that "he does not believe it is necessary to guarantee the security of rights activists in Chechnya."
After her death, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev praised Estemirova for speaking "the truth."
Deadly clashes between government forces and Islamist rebels are common in Chechnya, a predominantly Muslim region in the North Caucasus mountains
The region was the scene of two wars between separatists and Russia's central government after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The insurgency has spilled over into neighbouring regions, taking a steady toll of lives.
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Monday, August 10th 2009
AFP
           


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