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Filmmaker flees city after assault by police; parents harassed, sued for defamation after discussing attack on their daughter

(RSF/IFEX) - The authorities in the Tatar capital of Kazan are harassing the parents of documentary filmmaker Natalia Petrova, who herself left the city after being attacked by police in September 2007, Reporters Without Borders said. Plain-clothes police arrested her parents at a polling station on 2 December, took them to a police station and did not release them until shortly before midnight.

"Now that Petrova's assailants in the Kazan police force can no longer get at her, the Kazan police are inflicting reprisals on her parents and taking them hostage," the press freedom organisation said. "It is now up to the regional authorities to call these police officers to order."

Her parents, Nina Petrova, 70, and Gennadi Petrov, 84, who are being sued for defamation for talking about the police attack on their daughter, were arrested by a plain-clothes policeman just after they entered Kazan voting station No. 161. At around 8:00 p.m. (local time), they were taken to a police station and questioned separately there. They were finally escorted home at around 11:30 pm (local time).

Natalia Petrova was assaulted by police on 6 September at the home she shared with her parents and two daughters. They all tried to intervene when policemen repeatedly punched and kicked her inside the apartment. They finally took her unconscious to a police station where the mistreatment continued.

After the attack, Petrova fled Tatarstan with her daughters fearing further reprisals.

She worked in Chechnya during the first war there. She has also worked in Abkhazia and Karabakh. Her films include "Abkhazia mon amour," "Children of Karabakh" and "Ancient land of the Chechens."

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