Chechen journalist beaten and detained by Interior Ministry troops

New York, February 28, 2003—Zamid Ayubov, a 40-year-old Chechen journalist for the local pro-Russian administration’s thrice-weekly Vozrozhdeniye Chechni, was beaten and detained by Interior Ministry forces in the Chechen capitol of Grozny on the evening of February 16.

Ayubov was assaulted when he approached an Interior Ministry unit and identified himself as a journalist researching an article about Interior Ministry units conducting night patrols in Grozny, according to Radio Svoboda, the Russian-language service of the U.S. government­funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

A CPJ source in Grozny verified that Ayubov suffered multiple heavy bruises after the troops—who belonged to the 2nd Operational-Investigative Bureau of the Leninski District—threw him to the ground and beat and kicked him in the ribs and back for about three minutes.

The journalist was then arrested and detained overnight without charge, despite having presented his press credentials and a document confirming that he is a resident of Grozny.

“This arrest and physical abuse of a journalist is outrageous,” said CPJ’s acting director Joel Simon. “We call on Russian authorities to investigate and prosecute the individuals responsible for this violent attack against our colleague.”

Ayubov was released the following morning and has filed a complaint at the military prosecutor’s office in Grozny.

Local journalists and foreign correspondents continue to face significant security risks in Chechnya, despite claims by the Kremlin that the war-torn republic is returning to peace.

In February 2002, Anna Politkovskaya, a war correspondent for the Moscow-based newspaper Novaya Gazeta, covertly visited Chechnya to investigate allegations of human rights violations. She was followed by Federal Security Bureau officers, arrested by Russian soldiers, detained overnight on a military base, and threatened by military officials for her journalistic work.

President Vladimir Putin also continues to maintain a tight information embargo on Chechnya, severely restricting the ability of Russian and foreign correspondents to report independently on the devastation of the ongoing war in the republic.

In October, Putin, angry with RFE/RL’s coverage of the conflict in Chechnya, revoked a 1991 decree that protected the radio station’s right to broadcast, making the station vulnerable to potential legal and regulatory harassment by the Media Ministry.