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Chechnya: Group Protests Russian Beating Of Reporter

Moscow, 8 September 2000 (RFE/RL) - The journalists' rights group Reporters Without Borders today called on Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev to discipline soldiers accused of beating a Chechen reporter. A Reporters Without Borders official said Sergeyev must identify and punish the Russian troops who earlier this week detained Ruslan Musaev, an ethnic Chechen who covers Chechnya for the Associated Press. Musayev said he was detained and beaten before being released on Wednesday. He said he was forced to give $600 and a gold watch to a Russian officer.

ITAR-TASS quoted military officials as denying anyone by the name of Ruslan Musaev had been detained or arrested. And the office of the Kremlin's spokesman on Chechnya, Sergei Yastrzhembsky, has said Musaev is not an officially accredited correspondent with Associated Press. Russian military officials say it is too soon to cancel strict security measures in Chechnya, even though the crackdown was originally supposed to end today.

Lieutenant-General Ivan Babichev late yesterday said the security measures will remain until military positions are no longer threatened by suicide bombings.

Babichev said the crackdown was the reason why Chechen separatists did not initiate suicide bombings on Wednesday, the ninth anniversary of Chechnya's self-proclaimed independence from Russia.

Chechnya's capital Grozny--and the second city Gudermes--have effectively been under a state of curfew since Tuesday. All civilian vehicular traffic has been banned and special security units are deployed on key roads throughout the republic.