Harassment and Intimidation Against Prominent Human Rights Defender in Ingushetia

Civil Rights Defenders is gravely concerned regarding the security infringements of Magomed Mutsolgov, a prominent human rights defender and leader of MASHR, an Ingush human rights organisation located in Ingushetia in the North Caucasus region of Russia. The concerns relate to a search on the 06thof November carried out by regional authorities on the office and home of Magomed Mutsolgov during which office equipment and documents were seized and subsequently confiscated.

“The latest search culminating in the confiscation of equipment and documents forms part of a regular pattern of continuous pressure against Magomed Mutsolgov and MASHR emanating from their human rights work and critical opinions against the authorities’ actions and policies,” said Joanna Kurosz, Programme Director for Eurasia.

“We urge the Russian authorities to stop the persecution against Magomed Mustolgov,” added Joanna Kurosz.

In the early hours on 6 November, officers of the Main Investigation Department of the North Caucasus Federal District conducted a rigorous search as witnesses looked on. They searched not only the office of MASHR but also the home of Magomed Mutsolgov.

All office and private equipment, accounting documents, the statute of the organisation MASHR, badges, business cards and a wide range of documents were confiscated during the search.

The reaction from the enforcement officers arose out of a ruling of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Ingushetia, which stated that ”Magomed Mutsolgov had acted in the interests of and under the order of foreign NGOs in order to implement subversive activities in Russia to encourage inter-ethnic conflicts in the North Caucasus, as well as distribute destructive opinion of the actions of Russias’ state authorities in relation to Ukraine, Georgia and Syria”. Security officials assured him that they were only acting on the basis of ”information received”.

“The legality of the actions of the authorities have raised questions as there is no on-going criminal case against Magomed Mutsolgov. Furthermore, the statement of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Ingushetia is written in language containing serious accusations on dubious grounds without any legal basis”, added Joanna Kurosz

Numerous articles have also been previously written in an attempt to discredit the organisation. Employees have been subjected to on-going harassment and intimidation by officials several of which have been kidnapped, beaten and tortured, and their homes repeatedly searched.

The authorities have failed to investigate a single case, often due to unofficial requests to shut down these cases.  In the past, Civil Rights Defenders has repeatedly expressed concern about the pressure put on Magomed Mutsolgov and other staff members of the human rights organisation ”MASHR”. These have included several attempts on his life and kidnapping attempts, illegal detention and torture as in evidenced against Mr. Zurab Tsechoev in 2008, Mr. Khamzat Tsechoev in 2010 and Mr. Murad Yandiev 2012,

Civil Rights Defenders urges the government of the Russian Federation to protect MASHR and Magomed Mutsolgov and to immediately contribute to an environment in which human rights defenders can work safely, in accordance with the 1998 UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

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