Chechen editor reports ongoing harassment

New York, August 6, 2004—The campaign of harassment against the independent weekly Chechenskoye Obshchestvo (Chechen Society), which is based in Ingushetia’s capital, Nazran, continued this week, according to the publication’s editor.

Editor Timur Aliev told CPJ that on August 2 and 3, the paper’s Web site was down, and that some e-mails and phone calls were not coming through. “What’s strange is that all of this stopped on the 4th, a couple of hours after I wrote an article about [the technical problems]” for the Web site of the Moscow-based Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, he said.

Aliev said he believes that Russian security services caused the technical difficulties in retaliation for his reporting. Aliev added that the government printing house in Nazran was still refusing to print his newspaper, citing unspecified orders from “the leadership.”

Conflicting reports
The interior ministries in Ingushetia and neighboring Chechnya continue to provide conflicting information about the harassment of Chechenskoye Obshchestvo.

“A letter came from the Chechen [Interior Ministry] asking us to close the paper…we’re just implementing that order,” Madina Hadzieva, a press officer at the Interior Ministry in Ingushetia, told CPJ. “We can’t ignore that request.”

The Chechen Interior Ministry, however, denied requesting the closure of Chechenskoye Obshchestvo but said the newspaper should not be working in Ingushetia.

“The Interior Ministry of the Chechen Republic does not have any issues with [Timur Aliev],” Ruslan Atsaev, a press officer at the Interior Ministry in Chechnya, told CPJ. “His newspaper is registered here in Chechnya, so why is he working and distributing the newspaper in Ingushetia?”

Chechnya’s Interior Minister Alu Alkhanov is the Kremlin-backed candidate favored to win the republic’s August 29 presidential election.

For more information about the campaign of harassment against Chechenskoye Obshchestvo, see CPJ’s July 29 alert.