Prominent Caucasus activist beaten by police: family

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A top Ingush rights activist was Wednesday brutally beaten and taken away by police in Russia's volatile North Caucasus region of Ingushetia after participating in a rally, his family said.

The beating of Magomed Khazbiyev follows a string of attacks on prominent opposition activists in a region where Russian authorities are fighting an Islamist insurgency.

"Magomed and his brothers were about to drive out of the driveway when 30 masked men fired gunfire into the air," Khazbiyev's sister Leila said on popular Echo of Moscow radio.

"They beat the brothers with gun butts in front of the entire family," she said, adding Magomed and one of his brothers were taken away in a police car.

A spokeswoman for Ingushetia's interior ministry said Khazbiyev was detained by police for disobeying authorities and attempting to "organise disorder".

Earlier in the day Khazbiyev participated in a rally in the regional city of Nazran that brought together some 60-80 people, spokeswoman Madina Khadziyeva told AFP.

"Khazbiyev himself was brandishing a stun gun," she said, adding protesters pelted police with stones.

In 2009 Natalya Estemirova, an award-winning campaigner who investigated human rights abuses in Chechnya, was abducted in the Chechen capital Grozny.

Her corpse was later found with gunshot wounds to the head and chest in neighbouring Ingushetia.

In 2008 another opposition figure, activist and journalist Magomed Yevloyev, was shot dead in bizarre circumstances in a police car after being arrested on arrival at Ingushetia's airport.

Deadly bombings and gunfights are an almost daily occurrence in Ingushetia and other Caucasus regions where the Russian authorities are battling an Islamist insurgency.

© 2011 AFP

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