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Protests Continue In Karachaevo-Cherkessia

10 November 2004 -- The president of the Russian republic of Karachaevo-Cherkessia has said he will not step down in the face of demonstrators demanding his resignation over a multiple slaying blamed on his son-in-law.

Mustafa Batdyev's remarks come as protesters continue to occupy his office in the city of Cherkessk after hundreds of demonstrators yesterday stormed and seized the government building.

Russian Deputy Prosecutor-General Nikolai Shepel, who met with local leaders and protesters today, said a criminal investigation into the storming of the building has begun.

"I think achieving a goal by unlawful means is absolutely unacceptable," Shepel said. "And I am keeping my promise that a legal evaluation of the situation will be made, and I think we will conduct a full and comprehensive investigation of these circumstances."

The building's seizure came after last month's disappearances of seven businessmen and the recent discovery of seven bodies believed to be those of the missing.

Relatives of the disappeared blame Ali Kaitov, Batdyev's son-in-law, of involvement in the suspected killings.

Kaitov surrendered to police late last month, and is being held on abduction and murder charges. He denies any involvement in the alleged slayings.

(RFE/RL's Russian Service/AP/Reuters/Interfax)