Memorial office torched in ‘terrorist’ attack in Ingushetia

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INGUSHETIA: Memorial says its office in Ingushetia has been torched in what a senior member of the Russian human rights group called a “terrorist” attack.

Oleg Orlov, a leading member of Memorial, told REF/RL on January 17 that unidentified assailants set fire to the office in Nazran, the North Caucasus region’s largest city, early in the morning.

According to Orlov, security cameras showed that two masked men arrived at the office at about 3:30 am local time, used a ladder to climb to the second floor, and broke into the premises through a window.

“Three rooms out of six in the building were seriously damaged,” Orlov said. “We consider it as a terrorist attack…as the apparent arson attack’s goal was to frighten ordinary people and damage [Memorial].”

Orlov linked the incident to the pressure Memorial has come under in neighbouring Chechnya, where the head of the rights group’s office was arrested on January 9 and is being held on a drug-possession charge.

“This attack is not random. A criminal case was fabricated against Oyub Titiyev and…massive pressure is being imposed on Memorial in Chechnya,” he said. “It looks like they consider Memorial an enemy that they want to remove [from the North Caucasus].”

Titiyev’s arrest has underscored concerns in Russia and the West about the tactics employed by security forces under Kremlin-backed Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.