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Helsinki Commission Calls for Added Protection in North Caucasus after Four Murders This Week

WASHINGTON – 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) issued the following statements today upon learning of the killings of four people in three days in Russia’s North Caucasus region. Aid worker Zarema Sadulayeva and her husband Alik Djabrailov were kidnapped and killed Monday in Chechnya. Criminals today also shot and killed Abdulmalik Akhmedilov, a journalist, in Dagestan and Construction Minister Ruslan Amerkhanov in Ingushetia.

Chairman Cardin said:

“Our deep condolences and sympathy go to the friends and families of those killed in this most recent round of senseless violence in the Caucasus. These murders suggest that no one is safe in the North Caucasus and this volatile region is drifting toward chaos.

“The execution of independent journalists and human rights activists is creating a black hole of information and violence in the region. These latest high profile murders, coming less than a month after the assassination of Natalya Estemirova, are merely the tip of the iceberg on human rights violations committed by a variety of actors in the Caucasus.

“If Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov is serious about his disgust for the crimes that he has called ‘inhuman,’ then he should provide meaningful security protection for human rights advocates, aid workers, journalists and others in Chechnya and demonstrate he has a viable strategy to put an end to the violence and impunity that is ravaging his republic and the whole North Caucasus.”

Congressman Hastings said:

“The recent murders of humanitarian workers strike at the heart of Chechnya’s viability as a self-governing republic. I call on Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to immediately launch a thorough prosecution of these heinous murders and ensure that all those responsible are brought to justice. Given the growing list of what appear to be politically motivated killings, it is particularly important to look into accusations of official involvement in these crimes.

“We are literally losing our ability to understand wider problems in the North Caucasus because on an almost daily basis independent voices are being eliminated for speaking truth in the region. Groups that exist to aid children, increase the flow of information and build a more stable society should not have to function in constant fear for their lives.”

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