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Activist's Home Searched In Ingushetia After Protests Over Chechnya Border Deal

Authorities blocked of the street in Karabulak with armored vehicles and checkpoints manned by masked Interior Ministry police.

Security officials in Russia's North Caucasus region of Ingushetia have searched the home of activist Akhmet Pogorov, one of the organizers behind two mass rallies last month against a controversial border deal with neighboring Chechnya.

Ruslan Mutsolgov, the leader of the Yabloko party's regional branch in Ingushetia, told the online news agency MBKh Media that it was not immediately clear if Pogorov was at his home in the town of Karabulak when police and other security officials carried out the search on April 25.

Mutsolgov said the nearby homes of Pogorov's brothers were also searched and that authorities blocked of the street with armored vehicles and checkpoints manned by masked Interior Ministry police.

According to Mutsolgov, Federal Security Service (FSB) officers visited Pogorov's house on April 24 but the activist was not home at the time.

Pogorov, who is a co-chairman of the World's Congress of the Ingush People, was fined 20,000 rubles ($310) in early April for taking part in one unsanctioned rally in late March.

On March 27, police violently dispersed hundreds of demonstrators in Ingushetia's capital, Magas, who were staging an unsanctioned protest against the border deal reached by regional authorities in Ingushetia and Chechnya.

A day earlier, thousands attended a protest approved by authorities to protest land swaps with Chechnya. Demonstrators at that rally called for Ingushetia's leader, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, to step down.

Days after the rallies, regional police transported eight Ingush activists to Russia's neighboring Kabardino-Balkaria region, where they were charged with assaulting police and publicly calling for disorder during the March 27 protest.

Those eight activists remain in pretrial detention in Nalchik, the regional capital of Kabardino-Balkaria.

Several other Ingush activists also were fined or jailed for several days on charges of clashing with police during the March 27 gathering.

Protests over the border deal began in Ingushetia in September after Yevkurov and the leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, signed the agreement behind closed doors.

Yevkurov and Kadyrov said the agreement was approved by the parliaments of both republics several days later, despite protests over what critics describe as the illegal transfer of Ingushetia's territory to Chechnya.