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ECHR rules that Russian security forces involved in 2007 abduction of former Memorial head and journalists

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled on the complaint of the former head of Russian Rights Center Memorial Oleg Orlov, who, along with three journalists from television channel REN, were attacked in the town of Nazran in 2007. After examining the evidence, the court found that their kidnappers were representatives of official government organs.

The ECHR noted that Russian law enforcement agencies and courts did not properly investigate the crime. European authorities, therefore, re-examined the case materials and the eyewitness and victim testimony. The Russian side failed to provide a reasonable explanation for how the kidnapping could have occurred without the government participation.

The court recognized that the victims were subjected to ill-treatment and unlawfully deprived of liberty. Their right to protect their private property was also violated. The ECHR awarded the victims 84,000 euros (approximately $89,300) in compensation collectively.

Orlov and the REN film crew arrived in Nazran in November 2007 to cover a rally taking place in light of the death of a six-year-old boy during a special operation. At night, armed people came to their hotel, kidnapped them, took them to a field and beat them. The kidnappers also confiscated their equipment and personal belongings.

According to the victims, the attack had been organized by Russia’s security structures to intimidate journalists and human rights activists. After the attack, a criminal case was initiated. The investigation was suspended shortly thereafter, however, due to a lack of suspects.

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