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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

50 People Rally Over Aid Worker

MTDick Erkel, the father of the kidnapped MSF aid worker, reading an appeal to President Vladimir Putin at the rally Wednesday.
About 50 people rallied Wednesday to demand that President Vladimir Putin work to win the release of a Dutch aid worker kidnapped in Dagestan.

Wearing T-shirts bearing Arjan Erkel's photograph, the protesters accused the government of inaction in the August kidnapping of Erkel, who heads the North Caucasus mission of Medicins de Frontieres, known in English as Doctors Without Borders.

"The lack of political will to resolve this case has left us with no choice but to address our demands directly to President Putin," MSF Secretary-General Rafael Vilasanjuan said in a statement.

After the protest -- joined by Erkel's father, Dick, and brother Diederik -- MSF representatives said they would deliver a petition with 300,000 signatures to Putin's office.

MSF spokesman Mark Walsh said the organization believed local investigators in Dagestan, which borders Chechnya, were doing their best but lacked support from Moscow.

"We believe that the presidential administration has the power to make a huge difference," Walsh said. "We think there could be a political dimension to the nonresolution of this case."

Some human rights organizations have blamed kidnappings of their workers in Chechnya on the military, but Walsh said MSF did not believe the authorities were involved in the abduction.

Aid organizations are in a position to see and document the situation in Chechnya. Often their assessments conflict with official statements.