MOSCOW – An Amnesty International researcher was abducted and beaten while reporting on protests in Russia's volatile North Caucasus region, the rights group said Monday.
Researcher Oleg Kozlovsky was in Ingushetia's regional capital of Magas this month to monitor protests against a hotly-debated land swap between the southern Russian regions of Ingushetia and Chechnya when he was approached by men who told him they were protest organizers and promised him an interview.
But then, in a car out in the countryside, the men said they were from Ingushetia's anti-extremist unit and threatened to kill him unless he agreed to cooperate, Amnesty said in a statement. It said the men took him to a field, stripped him naked and performed a mock execution, putting a gun to his head.
"When they couldn't get anything out of me, they began to threaten me so that I wouldn't speak about anything about what happened to me and threated to kill my children," he said on Twitter.
Kozlovsky said he agreed to do that and was released after that.
The researcher said he went to the police about the violent abduction but has not heard of any progress in the investigation. He has decided to leave Russia for now.
Protests in Magas have been going on for days after the leaders of Ingushetia and Chechnya signed the land swap deal. Many in Ingushetia thought it was hurting the region's interests, and speakers at the protests have been calling for the ouster of the regional leader.
The tensions over the land swap reflect deep-running distrust between the two mostly Muslim Russian regions, which share the same language but have been divided by land and other disputes. Chechnya and Ingushetia formed one republic during Soviet times but split after the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union.