Page last updated at 16:27 GMT, Wednesday, 25 June 2008 17:27 UK

Russia 'abuses Ingush minority'

Ingushetia map

Russian security forces have carried out widespread human rights abuses in the southern province of Ingushetia, a campaign group has claimed.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) says it has documented dozens of arbitrary detentions, disappearances, acts of torture and extra-judicial executions.

Russia has been fighting Muslim rebels in the area for several years.

The Kremlin has not yet commented on the HRW report, but local officials have dismissed it as biased.

'Brutal' policies

The predominantly Muslim province borders Chechnya and has suffered from overflowing unrest.

There is a low-level insurgency, with regular small-scale ambushes against police and soldiers.

The report claims that heavy-handed attempts to curb the insurgency have resulted in persecution of peaceful Muslims and government critics.

Opposition groups are marginalised, independent media stifled and rallies are violently dispersed, it said.

The US-based group said in a statement that Russia's "brutal counter-insurgency policies" were antagonising local residents.

"Far from ending the insurgency, 'dirty war' tactics are likely to further destabilise the situation in Ingushetia and beyond in the North Caucasus," the report said.

But Ingush officials disputed the report's claims.

Tamara Khautiyeva, deputy speaker of the Ingush parliament, told Russia's Interfax news agency that rights activists had exaggerated the problem.

"If there are certain cases of violations of human rights by law enforcement agencies, they are being investigated and assessed in order to prevent them in the future," she said.

Ingushetia's human rights ombudsman Karimsultan Kukurkhayev said crime levels in the region were falling.

"There has not been a single abduction or case of torture this year," he said.

Regions and territories: Ingushetia
12 Mar 08 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Russia
18 Jun 08 |  Country profiles

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