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Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov
A troika of top international human rights organizations have come together to urge the Austrian government to act swiftly to bring to justice those responsible for the killing of a Chechen man who alleged he had been tortured by Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov.

The statement was issued by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the Memorial Human Rights Center.

According to news reports, assailants shot and killed 27-year-old Umar Israilov on January 13 in Vienna, where he had lived in exile.

Israilov had stated publicly that he had been tortured by Kadyrov and had filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights in 2006.

Several days prior to the killing, Israilov complained to Austrian police authorities that he was being followed by unknown individuals.

“We are deeply alarmed about what appears to be another politically motivated killing of a critic of high-level Russian government officials,” said Oleg Orlov, director of Memorial.

“In light of the brutal retaliation inflicted on those who speak out on abuses in Chechnya, Israilov’s actions were particularly courageous, and his killers and those behind them need to be promptly held to account," Orlov said.

The Council of Europe today criticized as "highly regrettable" the decision by Azerbaijan to ban international radio stations from broadcasting on national frequencies.

The ban, which came into effect, ended radio broadcasts by the BBC, Voice of America, and RFE/RL's Azeri-language service, Radio Azadliq.

"When it acceded to the Council of Europe in 2001, Azerbaijan undertook to guarantee the freedom of expression and independence of the media, which are essential preconditions for the functioning of a democratic society," reads a statement signed by Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos and Lluis Maria De Puig, the president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

The statement urges Baku to reconsider its decision, which it says "cannot but create obstacles to pluralism of information in this country to the detriment of the interests of the Azerbaijani population."

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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