The head of a regional office of one of Russia's biggest human rights group has been beaten up in an attack condemned by Amnesty International and that the group, Memorial, said was linked to his work.
In a statement, Memorial said Sirazhutdin Datsiyev, who manages its office in Daghestan, had been struck hard on the back of the head with an unidentified object by an attacker shortly after leaving his home in the city of Makhachkala on March 28.
It quoted a witness as saying his attacker had jumped out of a car with tinted windows.
"We consider that the attack on Sirazhutdin Datsiyev was linked to his professional activity,” Memorial said, adding the police were looking into the incident.
Amnesty International said it was just the latest in a string of attacks targeting individuals associated with the human rights group.
"This ferocious attack continues the string of assaults on the staff and property of Human Rights Center Memorial in the North Caucasus. The frequency and severity of these assaults, and the total impunity for those who commit them, point to the Russian authorities’ negligence and begs the question of their possible complicity," said Denis Krivosheyev, deputy director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.
The attack took place two months after a car belonging to Memorial's Daghestan office was torched by unknown attackers.
Moscow-based Memorial called that "an arson attack" and part of a "terror" campaign to chase the respected rights group out of the North Caucasus following the arrest of Oyub Titiyev, the chief of Memorial's office in another North Caucasus region, Chechnya
Titiyev was detained on January 9 by police who said they found marijuana in his car. Titiyev and Memorial said the drugs were planted.
Eight days after Titiyev's arrest, Memorial's office in the neighboring Ingushetia region was torched by unknown assailants.
Oleg Orlov, a leading member of Memorial, called the attacks targeting his group in Chechnya, Ingushetia, and Daghestan "parts of the same chain," adding that the organizers of the attacks "must be sought in the Chechen Republic."
Western governments and international organizations have voiced concern about Titiyev's case and called for his release.
The Kremlin-backed leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, called Titiyev a "drug addict" and branded all human rights defenders "people without kinship, ethnicity, and religion."