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Home News Top Russian rights activist pelted with eggs in Chechnya

Top Russian rights activist pelted with eggs in Chechnya

Published on 17/03/2016

Masked men threw eggs, flour and disinfectant at a prominent Russian rights activist in Chechnya in an attack that sparked widespread condemnation on Thursday.

Igor Kalyapin, the head of the Committee to Prevent Torture rights group was ordered to leave his hotel on Wednesday evening and then targeted by a group of “young men in civilian clothes and black masks”, a lawyer for the group said.

“They threw eggs, cake, flour and green disinfectant,” Dmitry Utukin said.

Utukin posted a photograph on Facebook of Kalyapin standing with his face and jacket coated with flour and eggs and bright green disinfectant.

Kalyapin, a veteran activist, has publicised abuses by the Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov. His group, which oversees rights activists in Chechnya, is one of the few still active in the region.

The Kremlin rights council, an advisory body to President Vladimir Putin of which Kalyapin is a member, said it was “outraged and concerned” at the attack, which it condemned as “a disgrace.”

The rights council said it wrote to Russia’s interior minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev asking him to take personal control of the probe into the incident, which it said should be treated as the criminal offence of hooliganism.

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists that “an attack on a member of the presidential council… is a very dangerous trend, which undoubtedly prompts concern. This is unacceptable.”

Peskov linked the attack to the crime-prone situation in the region, dismissing a suggestion that it could affect whether the Kremlin extends Kadyrov’s mandate next month.

Human Rights Watch’s Europe and Central Asia director Hugh Williamson said “the attack on Igor Kalyapin shows again that it’s open season on human rights defenders in Chechnya.”

Earlier this month, masked attackers beat up foreign journalists and support staff and set fire to their minibus as they were driving to Grozny on a press tour organised by Kalyapin’s group.

Kalyapin said a group of men entered his hotel room and ordered him to leave, citing his criticism of Kadyrov.

Outside a group of women shouted at him, asking how he dared to “speak badly of Ramzan,” he said.

Kalyapin was visiting Grozny to meet journalists and a Chechen rights activist, his group said.

Chechnya’s interior ministry said it was looking into the incident.

Last year the group’s office in Grozny was attacked by masked men after it criticised Kadyrov’s call to destroy the houses of relatives of suspected Islamists.

Kadyrov supporters have shouted slogans condemning Kalyapin at officially-organised demonstrations.

Kadyrov is accused by rights activists and the opposition of running the region as his personal fiefdom with a private army, with wide use of kidnapping and torture and little oversight from Moscow.