Journalists covering torture assaulted at Chechnya border
March 15, Moscow: The International Press Institute (IPI) has called on authorities in the Russian republic of Ingushetia to hold accountable those responsible for yesterday's attack on six Russian and foreign journalists investigating human rights abuses in the north Caucasus region.
According to reports, around 20 masked men wielding knives and clubs ambushed the journalists in their minibus as they attempted to cross from Ingushetia into neighbouring Chechnya together with representatives of a Russian anti-torture NGO. The attackers, believed to be from Chechnya, are said to have accused the group of being terrorists before beating them and setting their bus on fire.
Both foreign journalists involved, Swedish Radio's Maria Persson Lofgre and Øystein Windstad, a reporter for the Norwegian daily Ny Tid, were hospitalised with non-severe injuries.
Ny Tid Editor-in-Chief Truls Lie told IPI in a telephone interview that Windstad, who received stitches in three areas and suffered several broken teeth, was expected to return to Norway tomorrow. Lie said that Winstad was in the Caucasus in part to follow up on a previous investigative story about Chechen asylum seekers in Norway who claimed to have been brutally tortured in the troubled republic. The paper felt Winstad's trip would be safe given the large group size, the presence of Western reporters and the participation of a well-known NGO, Lie added.
Ingushetia's Interior Ministry stated that a search operation was “currently underway for establishing the persons who committed this attack”, according to Russian news sources. The Ministry reportedly said it would initiate a criminal investigation for “hooliganism” and “deliberate damage of property”.
IPI joined international observers in condemning the incident.
The Oslo Times