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Kadyrov Pledges To Ban Rights Activists From Chechnya

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov (file photo)
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov (file photo)

The leader of Russia's Caucasus republic of Chechnya has pledged to ban human rights advocates from the region after being repeatedly accused of overseeing systematic rights abuses.

In a video address to law enforcement officers on August 23, Kadyrov said he would impose "sanctions" against rights activists because they were "preventing our people from living in peace."

"They have only one goal: to do us harm," Kadyrov said, adding that human rights advocates would be banned from entering Chechnya after the trial of prominent rights activist Oyub Titiyev ended.

Activists have been visiting Chechnya to attend the trial of Titiyev, who runs the office of the Memorial Human Rights Center in Chechnya.

He was arrested earlier this year on suspicion of possessing drugs in a case critics say was politically motivated.

When asked to comment on Kadyrov's pledge to ban activists, the Kremlin on August 24 said his words may have been taken out of context.

"Here we need, of course, to distinguish between different human rights activists," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

"Many human rights activists serve very necessary functions and are deservedly respected."

Memorial has stirred the ire of Chechen authorities by monitoring disappearances and torture in the region.

Titiyev's predecessor, Natalia Estemirova, was kidnapped and shot dead in 2009. Nobody has been convicted in the case.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and Interfax

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