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Page last updated at 12:14 GMT, Tuesday, 2 September 2008 13:14 UK

Police 'break up Ingush protest'

Magomed Yevloyev (photo from Russian news website lenta.ru)
Yevloyev's website is said to be one of the most visited for Ingush news

Security forces in Russia's volatile Ingushetia region are reported to have broken up an anti-government protest in the main city of Nazran.

The protest started during the funeral of Magomed Yevloyev, the owner of an opposition website who died after being shot in police custody.

Reports said protesters were dispersed by baton-wielding officers.

But an Ingushetia interior ministry official denied the police had forced the demonstrators to leave.

Magomed Mutsolgov, from human rights group Mashr, said police officers arrived early in the morning to disperse a crowd of about 50 men in the main square in Nazran.

Police and military vehicles were then deployed to block access to the main square, he added.

His account tallied with a report on Russian Ren TV from one of its correspondents in the city.

But an interior ministry press officer insisted the protesters had left peacefully.

"We didn't even have to make any arrests," the official said.

Investigation

Mr Yevloyev was arrested and later shot after getting off the same flight as the local, Kremlin-backed leader two days ago. He died in hospital.

Ingushetia map

Police said he was shot after lunging for an officer's gun, but his supporters and human rights groups said they did not believe that explanation.

Russian prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into the death.

Mr Yevloyev was a thorn in the side of Ingush President Murat Zyazikov, a former KGB general.

Mr Yevloyev's website, ingushetiya.ru, reported on alleged Russian security force brutality in Ingushetia, an impoverished province of some half a million people, mostly Muslims.

There is a low-level insurgency, with regular ambushes of police and soldiers.

In the latest incident in the region, on Monday, two policemen were killed and one wounded in an ambush at a police station in the village of Achaluki, Interfax reported.

Mr Yevloyev was the most high-profile Russian journalist to be killed since assassins shot investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya at her Moscow apartment in October 2006.

Earlier this year, the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists described Ingushetia as "a lawless zone where enemies of the press can attack journalists with impunity".


SEE ALSO
Regions and territories: Ingushetia
12 Mar 08 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Russia
28 Aug 08 |  Country profiles

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