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Desperate Mothers Of Missing Chechens Ask European Rights Groups For Help

The mothers of several missing Chechen men have turned to European rights groups for help in finding their sons amid fears that some may have been killed by authorities in the southern Russian region.

RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service on August 10 obtained a copy of a letter signed by 10 Chechen women who wrote that their exhaustive attempts to find their sons by appealing to Russian officials have been fruitless.

They implored "all European human rights organizations" to help them.

The independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported in July that 27 people in Chechnya might have been executed without trial in January after they were arrested over clashes with police in December.

The newspaper reported that relatives were forced to sign papers saying that the missing people had left Chechnya and that they have no grounds for filing claims with authorities.

Novaya Gazeta has irked Kremlin-backed Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov with a series of reports alleging grave abuses, including torture and executions, by the law enforcement and paramilitary forces he oversees.

These have included reports containing evidence of a campaign of sometimes deadly violence targeting gay men in the region.

Chechen officials have denied the reports, but other media outlets published reports that appear to partially corroborate them.