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Anti-Kremlin website owner shot dead in police custody

Ingushetian intrigue

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Russian police in the troubled region of Ingushetia shot dead a prominent web journalist on Sunday night, shortly after he was taken into custody.

Magomed Yevloyev was arrested after getting off a flight in Nazran, Ingushetia. Kaloi Akhilgov, a lawyer close to the Ingushetiya.ru website run by Yevloyev, said Yevloyev was taken away by police in a car.

"As they drove he was shot in the temple... They threw him out of the car near the hospital," Akhilgov said. Yevloyev received treatment at a local hospital but doctors were unable to save his life.

Local police claim that Yevloyev attempted to seize a policeman's gun as he was been taken away for questioning. He was shot in the head during the ensuing struggle.

A criminal investigation has been opened up into the case but local critics of the Kremlin already fear a whitewash.

Comments published on Yevloyev's website said his death is part of a genocidal campaign by Russian security forces against the Ingush people, the BBC reports. Others said the actions of Russia's para-military forces are increasing calls for Ingushetia to secede from Russia.

Yevloyev has been a long-term critic of Ingush President Murat Zyazikov, a former KGB general who maintains a pro-Moscow policy. The Ingushetiya.ru site regularly ran allegations of brutality by Russian forces in Ingushetia, a small Muslim-dominated province of half a million bordering Chechnya that's one of the poorest regions of Russia.

The region has been the centre of a low-level insurgency featuring ambushes targeting police and other members of the security services. Earlier on Monday two policemen were killed and another wounded following an ambush near a police station. ®

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