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Russian Federation: Journalist in Dagestan at risk: Magomed Hanmagomedov

, Index number: EUR 46/027/2010

The safety of Magomed Hanmagomedov, an investigative journalist working for an independent newspaper in Dagestan, Russian Federation, may be at risk after he reported on the extrajudicial execution of four suspected armed fighters.

UA: 162/10 Index: EUR 46/027/2010 Russian Federation Date: 19 July 2010
The safety of Magomed Hanmagomedov, an investigative journalist working for an independent
newspaper in Dagestan, Russian Federation, may be at risk after he reported on the extrajudicial
execution of four suspected armed fighters.
Magomed Hanmagomedov is a journalist working for the independent weekly newspaper Chernovik in Dagestan, a
republic of the Russian Federation. On 9 July 2010, he published an article about an operation by Dagestani law
enforcement officials which took place in the town of Derbent on 16 June 2010, in which four suspected armed
fighters were killed. In his article, Magomed Hanmagomedov noted that two of the names of those killed were
initially reported wrongly by the police. He questioned the official version of the event: that four men in a car
refused to stop and opened fire at the police. He suggested instead that the driver and his three passengers may
have been led into an ambush and gunned down. He also suggested that people other than the suspected fighters
may have been present in the car.
Magomed Hanmagomedov has posted a video clip, apparently taken by one of the policemen who participated in
this operation, on the newspaper’s website alongside his article. The clip features the dead body of a young man
lying on the ground and covered in blood, and two other bodies inside a car. A voice apparently pleading not to shoot
can be heard at the beginning of the video clip followed by a number of shots fired, and the voice of a man
condemning the “borodachi” (“bearded men” – a reference to Islamic groups, although none of the three corpses
appear to have a beard).
Following the publication of his article, Magomed Hanmagomedov received phone calls from law enforcement
officials expressing indignation at his article, and a number of mobile phone text messages from unknown numbers
alleging that he was paid from abroad and working for militants. Magomed Hanmagomedov has been informed by a
confidential source that the local prosecutor’s office might be preparing a criminal case against him. The Russian
human rights group Memorial has expressed concern about the safety of Magomed Hanmagomedov.
PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in Russian or your own language:
Urging the Russian authorities to ensure Magomed Hanmagomedov’s safety;
Calling on them to ensure that journalists are able to do their work, including journalist inquiries and publication
of their findings, without intimidation, hindrance, harassment and interference;
Urging them to conduct a prompt, independent and impartial investigation into the alleged extrajudicial
execution in Derbent on 16 June 2010.
Minister of Internal Affairs of Dagestan
Ali A. Magomedov
Prospekt R. Gamzatova, 7
367000 Makhachkala
Republic of Dagestan
Russian Federation
Fax: +7 8722 994439
Salutation: Dear Minister
Minister of Internal Affairs of the
Russian Federation
Rashid Gumarovich Nurgaliev
Ministry of Internal Affairs
ul. Zhitnaia, 16
119049 Moscow
Russian Federation
Fax: + 7 495 237 49 25
Salutation: Dear Minister
And copies to:
Ombudsman of the Russian Federation
Vladimir Petrovich Lukin
ul. Miasnitskaia, 47
107084, Moscow
Russian Federation
Fax: +7 495 607 74-70;
+7 495 607 39 77
Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.
Date: <date>
The security situation in Dagestan has deteriorated significantly over recent years. Amidst a high level of violence and
lawlessness, human rights defenders and journalists have been threatened or killed, and disappearances and torture continue to
be reported. Amnesty International has also received reports of police brutality. In a letter to the Prosecutor General of Russia on
25 June 2010, the organization expressed concern about severe beating of a young female lawyer by police at the police station
in Khasavyurt on 17 June 2010, where she had come to see her detained client.
There are regular reports of ambushes by militants against police and other officials, as well as of operations against alleged
militants by members of law enforcement agencies, sometimes in violation of human rights safeguards. Questions have been
raised repeatedly about the credibility of official reports, particularly those resulting in killings of suspected militants.
In 2008, a criminal case was opened against Magomed Hanmagomedov, alleging that his publication had expressed extremist
views and incited inter-ethnic hatred. Although the investigation failed to prove this allegation and the case was dropped,
Magomed Hanmagomedov’s newspaper was forced to close. The newspaper Chernovik he currently works for has also been
subjected to pressure and similar allegations have been made by the authorities against several members of its staff.
The report Legal remedies for human rights violations in the North Caucasus Region, prepared by Dick Marty, Special Rapporteur
of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) on the human rights situation in the North Caucasus and published in
May 2010, notes that Dagestan has undergone “a fresh outbreak of terrorist acts which have unfortunately prompted responses of
the security forces which are not always lawful and productive.” The report specifically mentioned the town of Derbent as an
example of admirable age-old tradition of peaceable cohabitation of the Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities based on
mutual tolerance” which, however, “is likely to be imperilled by the rise of extremism and the inappropriate official reactions.
UA: 162/10 Index: EUR 46/027/2010 Issue Date: 19 July 2010

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