The Russian president has ordered the Interior Ministry to clarify all the circumstances behind Wednesday’s attack on a group of reporters and rights activists on their way to the Chechen capital, Grozny, and “issue a legal appraisal” of this incident.
According to Vladimir Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov, senior Russian authorities considered the threat to the lives of journalists and rights advocates “absolutely unacceptable” and expected the law enforcers to find and detain all attackers in order to ensure the safety of human rights activists and representatives of mass media.
The attack on several reporters from Russia, Sweden and Norway, and representatives of the NGO ‘Committee Against Torture’, took place on Wednesday night in the Republic of Ingushetia near the border with Chechnya. According to the victims a large group of masked people armed with wooden truncheons dragged them out of their car and set it on fire. Four people, including two foreign journalists, sustained injuries in the process. The attackers reportedly accused the NGO members of supporting terrorists.
Ingushetia police are investigating the attack as the premeditated destruction of other people’s property and hooliganism. The top authorities of the republic have promised to hold the probe under special control.
The head of Russia’s Human Rights Council, Mikhail Fedotov, has told reporters that he considered it extremely important that this case is thoroughly investigated and solved and all its perpetrators are duly punished.
However, some officials expressed skepticism over the statements of those who suffered from the attack. Chechen Human Rights representative Nurdi Nukhadjiyev said in press comments that the crime could have been masterminded by “forces interested in destabilizing the situation in the region and in the state in general” and named the chairman of the Committee against Torture, Igor Kalyapin, as the likely figure behind the scheme.
“I am not accusing him, but I say that this looks like his trademark style,” Nukhadjiyev emphasized.
The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a comment on the incident in which it condemned the attack and expressed hope that its perpetrators would be found and punished. The ministry also said in the release that of the two foreign journalists who were injured, one was working in Russia without proper accreditation.
Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev ordered the head of the Ingushetia police and the head of his ministry’s directorate for the North Caucasus Federal District to take exhaustive measures to ensure that those involved in the attack on reporters are detained. The minister added that the appraisal of Wednesday’s events will be given after all details are disclosed and studied.