Yevloyev, 37, owner of the popular news Web site Ingushetiya, was killed in police custody. Yevloyev died from a gunshot wound to the head sustained while being transported by Ingushetia police following his arrest at the airport in the regional capital, Magas. Ingushetia police immediately called the shooting an accident, saying Yevloyev had tried to take a gun from one of the arresting officers. Yevloyev's relatives, colleagues, and friends told CPJ they believe he was murdered to silence the Web site, one of the few remaining independent news sources in Ingushetia.
Yevloyev had just gotten off a flight from Moscow when he was arrested at about 1:30 p.m., according to a colleague who was
present at the scene but asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal.
Yevloyev, who lived in
Shortly before leaving the plane, Yevloyev sent a text message to Magomed Khazbiyev, a friend and local opposition activist, telling him that he had shared the flight with Ingushetia President Murat Zyazikov, the friend told CPJ. After the presidential cortege left the airport, six armored vehicles approached the plane, Khazbiyev said. A group of armed police officers approached Yevloyev and placed him in a UAZ van. "They did not handcuff him, and he did not resist them," Khazbiyev told CPJ.
The daily Kommersant reported that Ingushetia police said they had detained Yevloyev as a witness in a criminal investigation into an August explosion at the home of a regional administration official.
When they saw Yevloyev had been detained, Khazbiyev said, friends followed the vehicles in their own cars. After the police vehicles left the airport, they split into two columns and took different directions. Khazbiyev and Yevloyev's relatives and friends followed the group heading toward Ingushetia's main city, Nazran. "We followed them for about 20 minutes until we almost reached Nazran's city limits," Khazbiyev told CPJ. When the cars stopped, it became clear Yevloyev was not there. "We have no blood on our hands," one police officer told them, Khazbiyev told CPJ.
Ingushetia police said that shortly after the journalist was placed in one of their vans, Yevloyev tried to wrestle away a gun belonging to one of the arresting officers. The gun went off, police said, striking Yevloyev in the temple. Police brought Yevloyev to a Nazran hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Vladimir Markin, a spokesman with the investigative committee of Russia's prosecutor general's office, told journalists in September 2008 that a criminal case has been opened and the case has been categorized as "murder by negligence." The statement left unclear whether regional or federal prosecutors would be in charge of the probe.
Yevloyev's Web site was well-known to human rights and press freedom groups in Russia and abroad as a reliable source for information in the tightly controlled republic of Ingushetia in Russia's restive North Caucasus region. Ingushetiya had reported on governmental corruption, human rights abuses, unemployment, and a string of unsolved disappearances and killings in recent months. The site covered antigovernment protests and had called for Zyazikov's resignation.
On June 6, a district court in
In August, Ingushetiya Editor-in-Chief
Roza Malsagova fled Russia after enduring harassment, threats, and beatings at the
hands of Ingushetia authorities. Faced with a politically motivated criminal
case on charges of "incitement of ethnic hatred" and "distribution of extremist
materials," Malsagova sought asylum in
Yevloyev is survived by a wife and three young children.