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Helsinki Commission Briefing and Documentary Screening on North Caucasus

WASHINGTON­— U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission), and Co-Chairman Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) announced today they will hold a briefing:

“In the Eye of the Storm: Chechnya and the Mounting Violence in the North Caucasus”

Wednesday July 21, 2010

10:00 a.m.

340 Cannon House Office Building

A year after the leading Russian human rights defender, Natalya Estemirova, was abducted near her apartment building in the Chechen capital Grozny, transported to the neighboring republic of Ingushetia and brutally killed, rights abuses and a continuing climate of fear prevails in Chechnya and elsewhere in the North Caucasus region of the Russian Federation.  While some leaders suggest that the situation in Chechnya is normal, there has been a marked increase in extrajudicial killings and politically motivated disappearances in Chechnya as well as in neighboring Ingushetia and Dagestan. 

Earlier this month Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, the Republic’s Kremlin-backed president, publicly labeled independent journalists and rights activists as “traitors and enemies of the state.”  Kadyrov reportedly praised the perpetrators of recent paintball gun attacks on the streets of Grozny targeting women for not wearing headscarves. 

This briefing is part a series of Helsinki Commission events focused on developments in the restive North Caucasus.

Panelists Scheduled to Appear:

Igor Kalyapin, Chair, Committee Against Torture

Elena Milashina, Investigative Reporter, Novaya Gazeta

Raisa Turlueva, victim whose son was abducted in Chechnya by security services

Immediately following the briefing there will be a public screening of “Victims Take the Floor”, a 30-minute documentary by the respected Russian human rights organization Memorial, featuring testimonies by family members of victims of human rights abuses in Chechnya and neighboring republics in the North Caucasus.

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