A central tactic in the war, activists say, is forced disappearances - the brazen snatching of young people from their homes or off the street, often by gangs of masked men who move freely, even in areas heavily patrolled by Russian military and police. The pace of forced disappearances has doubled in the past year, following a spike in militant attacks on police and authorities, including suicide bombings, ambushes and assassinations.
The lucky ones are brutally interrogated and released. Some turn up dead, their bodies bearing the marks of torture. Other families face the anguish of never knowing the fate of a father, brother or son.
But critics say the kidnappings have aggravated rather than reduced tensions along Russia's southern border.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
But the young man's kidnapping in the outskirts of Ingushetia's largest city bears the hallmarks of what rights activists call Russia's "policy of state terror," a shadow war against violent Muslim separatists in the North Caucasus, a strategic crossroads of Europe and Asia.