10 August 2005, 21:07

Muslims degraded in Kabardino-Balkaria

Human rights defenders ask the Russian president's envoy to the South federal district to take measures for an objective investigation into the case of a pregnant Muslim woman beaten by police officers in Kabardino-Balkaria.

Torture and degrading treatment of Muslims in this North Caucasus republic are regular and promote their radicalisation, thinks Valerii Khatazhukov, Chairman of the Kabardino-Balkar Human Rights Centre.

In his letter to envoy Dmitrii Kozak, he reminded him of the story of 19-year-old Elena Gasiyev resident in Nalchik. The pregnant woman left home and went shopping wearing a burqa on 20 July. A man in civilian clothes stopped her next to her house and demanded that she should show him her ID. It turned out later he was a police officer. The woman tried to explain to him she had left her passport at home. He replied with obscenity, forced her into his car and took her to the police station where he demanded that she should sign some papers. When she refused, he struck her two strong blows on her back in the area of kidneys.

When the woman cried that she was pregnant, the policeman answered, "Then you will not see your child born." The republican prosecutor's office refused to open a criminal case, Radio Echo of Moscow says.

More about freedom of religion in Russia's N Caucasus:

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