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Zarema Yangulbayeva, the mother of a prominent human rights lawyer, was taken from her apartment in Nizhny Novgorod on the evening of January 20 by masked men who introduced themselves as Chechen police officers. (file photo)

The United States is calling for the immediate release of all people who are being “unjustly detained” in Russia's North Caucasus region of Chechnya, citing “dozens of reported abductions and arbitrary detentions in recent weeks.”

"In addition to cases within Chechnya, there have been numerous instances of individuals being detained in other parts of the Russian Federation and forcibly transferred to Chechnya,” State Department's spokesman Ned Price said in a statement on January 27.

Price cited the case Zarema Yangulbayeva, aka Zarema Musayeva, the mother of human rights lawyer Abubakar Yangulbayev, who was taken from her apartment in Nizhny Novgorod on the evening of January 20 by masked men who introduced themselves as Chechen police officers.

Rights Activist's Mother Seized By 'Chechen Police' In Raid Far From Chechnya
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Russian and international human rights groups have for years accused Chechnya's Kremlin-backed authoritarian ruler Ramzan Kadyrov of overseeing grave human rights abuses including abductions, torture, extrajudicial killings, and the persecution of the LGBT community.

Kremlin critics say Putin has turned a blind eye to the abuses and violations carried out in Chechnya because he relies on the former rebel commander to control separatist sentiment and violence in a region that went through two devastating post-Soviet wars and an Islamist insurgency.

The Untouchable: How Kadyrov Maintains His Tight Grip On Chechnya
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Price said the United States was “troubled by continuing reports of abductions and arbitrary detentions” carried out by authorities in Chechnya, including dozens of such cases reported in recent weeks targeting “the relatives of Chechen human rights defenders and dissidents.”

On January 21, Kadyrov said Yangulbayeva, 52, faces a "real prison sentence for attacking a law enforcement officer" and that Chechen authorities "will take care of" her son, while her entire family could find themselves "either in jail or underground."

Amnesty International described Yangulbayeva's detention as a "kidnapping" and urged Russia's federal authorities to act on the "lawlessness" that had "spilled out" of Russia's North Caucasus region.

Abubakar Yangulbayev told RFE/RL that his mother's lawyer has been unable to visit her and was not allowed to be present at a court hearing in Chechnya that decided on her pretrial arrest.

Belarusians In Long-Term Limbo At Swedish Embassy Say Stockholm 'Not Helping'
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Two Belarusians who have been sheltering at the Swedish Embassy in Minsk since September 2020 say the Swedish government has adopted "delaying tactics" to avoid helping them. Father and son Vital and Uladzislau Kuznechyk jumped over the embassy fence to evade arrest after joining mass protests against election fraud. In December, the UN Committee Against Torture ruled that Sweden must respond to a complaint they had lodged to prevent their removal from the embassy.

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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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