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June 3, 2015

Hammer-wielding raiders storm human rights group offices in Chechnya

The Committee Against Torture is one of only two independent rights groups in region where leader Ramzan Kadyrov has been accused of widespread abuses

Masked men, some wielding hammers, stormed the offices of the Committee Against Torture in Chechnya during a protest denouncing its work, the human rights organisation said.

The Committee Against Torture is one of only two independent rights groups in region where leader Ramzan Kadyrov has been accused of widespread abuses

Masked men, some wielding hammers, stormed the offices of the Committee Against Torture in Chechnya during a protest denouncing its work, the human rights organisation said.

The group tweeted that its headquarters in Grozny, the capital of the region in southern Russia, had been damaged on Wednesday and police had not responded to calls for help. It said its offices have been raided in the past and its representatives beaten.

The Committee Against Torture is one of only two independent rights groups working in Chechnya – the turbulent, mainly Muslim region where the Kremlin-appointed leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, has been accused of widespread rights violations and heavy-handed tactics against opponents, which he denies.

Moscow fought two wars against separatists in Chechnya in the decade following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and is now fighting an insurgency which aims to create an Islamist state in the broader North Caucasus area. 

Tensions have risen sharply with Moscow since ethnic Chechens with links to Kadyrov’s security forces were charged with killing the Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov in the Russian capital in February. 

Relations are particularly tense between Russian forces – worried by Kadyrov’s growing autonomy and methods – and security groups loyal to him in Chechnya.

By theguardian.com

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