Ingush Opposition Leader Killed

Maksharip AushevOne of the leaders of the popular opposition in Russia’s Republic of Ingushetia, Maksharip Aushev, was shot dead near Nalchik, the capital of neighbouring Kabardino-Balkaria, at around 9:30 AM on 25 October 2009. Mr Aushev was survived by his wife and five children.

According to local law enforcement officials, unidentified men in a silvery VAZ-2112 car drew alongside Mr Aushev’s black Zhiguli car and fired with submachine guns. Mr Aushev died on the spot, while a woman riding with him was severely injured and taken to hospital. More than 60 cartridges were found on the scene of the crime.

A criminal case has been initiated under Articles 105 (murder) and 222 (illegal possession of arms) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Ingush President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov paid a visit to the family of Maksharip Aushev, saying that he had taken personal control of the investigation.

Maksharip Aushev was one of Ingushetia’s most prosperous businessmen until four of his relatives were arbitrarily detained and one killed during an “anti-terrorist” operation carried out by the FSB in June 2007. Mr Aushev turned to human rights organisations, including Memorial and Mashr, for help.

The FSB entered Surkhakhi, the native village of the Aushev family, on 17 June 2007, blocking the two houses belonging to the Aushevs and ordering everyone out. They fired a shot from a grenade launcher at the attic of one of the houses, thus killing Ruslan Aushev. Four men, Isropil, Khasan, Khusen, and Magomed Aushev were taken away.

Isropil, Khasan and Khusen were taken to the FSB headquarters in Ingushetia where they were interrogated but then released. Maksharip Aushev’s nephew Magomed was taken to the FSB headquarters in Vladikavkaz, capital of neighbouring North Ossetia. He was taken to a shooting ground, had an armoured vest put on him, and then used as a shooting target. He was also subjected to torture.

To stop the torture, Magomed agreed to sign an agreement to collaborate with the FSB, after which he was released. The following day, 18 June 2007, the FSB demanded that he meet them at the bus station, threatening to kill his brother and abduct him again if he failed to show up. The FSB agents then drove him back to Ingushetia, dumping him on the road.

Maksharip Aushev and other members of the family immediately turned to the prosecutor’s office demanding to open a criminal case and detain the officers who met Magomed at the bus station. However, the information was leaked from the police, and the FSB agents learned of the report on them. Maksharip Aushev sent Magomed to Astrakhan for medical treatment.

On 17 September 2007, Maksharip Aushev’s son Magomed Aushev and the nephew of the same name, were travelling by train from Astrakhan to Grozny. On arrival in Grozny, they were abducted. Maksharip Aushev learned that the two men were being kept in a secret prison in the village of Goyty in Chechnya. Following massive protests in Ingushetia, the two men were released.

The investigation by Maksharip Aushev uncovered evidence that other missing people had been kept and killed in the secret prison in Goyty. Mr Aushev pushed for an investigation into the activities of the secret prison and for bringing the FSB’s death squad of some fifty people to trial. The authorities did not, however, follow through with the investigation.

During the campaign for the release of his family members, Maksharip Aushev got acquainted with Magomed Yevloyev, owner of the independent news portal, Ingushetiya.Ru. Mr Aushev became active in mobilising protests against the lawlessness in Ingushetia. He was the main organiser of all protest rallies, while Mr Yevloyev was in charge of media coverage.

Maksharip Aushev was abducted in February 2008. A house belonging to his brother Musa was set on fire in Surkhakhi. Mr Aushev first arrived at the scene in a convoy of several cars, but returned later in one car. His car was then blocked in the village of Ekazhevo, and he was taken to a prison in Nalchik. He was only released after four months, following widespread public protests.

Mr Aushev became the owner of the opposition news portal, Ingushetiya.Ru, after the killing of the site’s founder, Magomed Yevloyev in August 2008. After Moscow replaced Ingushetia’s hugely unpopular president Murat Zyazikov in November 2008, Mr Aushev relinquished the site, which then sided with the new president, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov.

Mr Aushev had hoped that Yevkurov’s appointment was the best of possible options. The Aushev family voiced their public support for Yevkurov. Nevertheless, members of the family were subjected to arbitrary reprisals. Adam Aushev, 21, was shot dead in his car in Surkhakhi on 21 April 2009. In August 2009, there was an attempt on the life of Maksharip Aushev in Nazran. He managed to escape through a neighbouring house.

On 15 September 2009, masked men (presumably federal FSB agents), moving in armoured vehicles, tried to abduct Mr Aushev. The incident occurred outside the Ingush capital, Magas, just after Mr Aushev’s meeting with the the former secretary of Ingushetia’s Security Council. The abduction failed, however, as traffic police and people at the scene intervened.

Maksharip Aushev was a member of the Expert Council of the Ombudsman of the Russian Federation. There are reports that two other Ingush activists in the council, Magomed Mutsolgov, chairman of the human rights organisation Mashr, and opposition leader Magomed Khazbiev, owner of Ingushetiya.Ru, have also received death threats.

Oksana Chelysheva

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