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Strasbourg court orders Russia to pay for Chechen disappearances

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The European Court of Human Rights has ordered Russia to pay 207,000 euros to the families of three people it ruled were abducted by Russian security forces in the North Caucasus republic of Chechnya.

The European Court of Human Rights has ordered Russia to pay 207,000 euros to the families of three people it ruled were abducted by Russian security forces in the North Caucasus republic of Chechnya.

Sporadic terrorist attacks and militant clashes are common in Russia's volatile North Caucasus republics, where Russia has fought two wars against separatists in Chechnya.

A statement published Thursday on the court's website said the applicants in the first case testified that their relatives, Said-Selim Benyev and Aby Zhnalayev, were kidnapped in September 2002.

According to the evidence in the case, armed people wearing masks abducted the two men from their homes. Their relatives chased the vehicles driving away with the two men, but stopped after a serviceman got out and told them that the vehicles belonged to the department of the interior of the Urus-Martan District in Chechnya and that they could be shot if they continued their pursuit.

Benyev and Zhnalayev have not been seen since.

Another Chechen resident, Artur Akhmatkhanov disappeared in April 2003. He had been shopping with his mother, when she realized she had to fetch a document she had forgotten at home. Reaching home, she heard shooting coming from a building nearby. The woman approached the site and saw it had been cordoned off by Russian military servicemen. Neighbors told her later they had seen Artur near the building and that a young man with a plastic bag over his head was put into an armored vehicle by the servicemen.

The court ruled that applicants had provided consistent accounts of the abductions and said that Russia did not disclose all the documents the court required.

It said the three missing persons should be considered dead as a result of an operation by Russian servicemen.

Strasbourg believes Russia violated a range of Convention on Human Rights articles, including the right to life, inhuman and degrading treatment, unacknowledged detention and the right to an effective remedy.

The court's decision is not final. Under the European Convention on Human Rights, Russia or the applicants have three months to appeal the ruling in the court's Grand Chamber.

PARIS, July 22 (RIA Novosti) 

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