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Rights activist murdered in Ingushetia

A human rights activist from Ingushetia, a republic in Russia, was killed on 25 October when his car came under attack from another vehicle, reports ARTICLE 19.

Maksharip Aushev was a vociferous critic of former Ingushetian President Murat Zyasikov. Aushev became active in human rights work in 2007 after his son and nephew were abducted. He orchestrated peaceful protests and was able to secure their release. In 2008 he managed an opposition website after the murder of its former editor. After President Zyakidov was replaced in 2008, Aushev left his work at the website and continued his human rights activism.

"The violent death of Maksharip Aushev shows once again the great personal risks that those voicing critical opinions in the North Caucasus are exposed to," said ARTICLE 19. "The climate of fear and intimidation… is exacerbated by impunity for human rights abuses, as the state fails to bring perpetrators of such abuses to justice."

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), 17 journalists have been killed in Russia since 2000, and in only one case has the killer been punished. The most recent high-profile murder was of Natalya Estemirova in July. She was abducted as she was leaving her Grozny apartment in Chechnya and later found shot to death in the Ingushetia region. She wrote regularly for the Caucasus news Web site "Kavkazsky Uzel" and for "Novaya Gazeta", say ARTICLE 19 and CPJ.

ARTICLE 19 calls on the Russian government to stop attacks on journalists, human rights defenders and civil society activists in the North Caucasus and demonstrate a commitment to the right to freedom of expression.

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