Russia pulls report on Chechnya tortures off the air

1st November 2011, Comments 0 comments

A national Russian television channel admitted Tuesday it pulled a report about tortures and abductions carried out by police in Chechnya, even after it had already been broadcast in Russia's Far East.

Television channel NTV -- controlled by state gas giant Gazprom -- did broadcast the documentary about the plight of Chechen Islam Umarpashayev who had been abducted by police from his own home in parts of the country but was then taken off the air.

The documentary was watched by Sunday evening viewers in the Far East of Russia -- eight time zones away from Moscow -- but was pulled by the time it was peak evening viewing in central Russia.

An NTV spokeswoman said the management decided the piece had to be reworked and some of the facts in the documentary double-checked.

"This is standard practice in the work of an information channel," spokeswoman Maria Bezborodova told AFP.

Chechnya is known for two bloody separatist wars that followed the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, and it continues to be plagued by a simmering Islamist insurgency and suicide bombings.

Kremlin claims that normalcy returned to the unrest-infested region and in 2009 ended the so-called anti-terror regime there, giving its youthful leader Ramzan Kadyrov a freer hand in the region.

Human rights activists say the Kremlin turns a blind eye to tortures and killings continuing in Chechnya as well as the current leader's heavy-handed tactics.

Kadyrov, a former insurgent who took power in Chechnya after his father Akhmat Kadyrov was killed in a blast in 2004, is widely thought to enjoy the full support of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Last month, Chechnya launched grandiose celebrations to celebrate Kadyrov's 35th birthday, with Hollywood actors Jean-Claude Van Damme and Hilary Swank participating in the festivities in the capital Grozny.

Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev personally congratulated the former rebel, Kadyrov's spokesman has said.

Swank said soon after her Chechnya visit she deeply regretted attending the controversial festivities.

© 2011 AFP

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