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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rebel Web Site: Arsanov Tortured at Kadyrov Jail

Former Chechen rebel Vice President Vakha Arsanov was detained in Grozny last month, a Chechen rebel web site and Interfax confirmed Friday. The web site said he was being tortured in an unofficial prison run by Deputy Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov's security forces.

Kommersant, citing a senior FSB official in Chechnya, reported on Jan. 17 that Arsanov had been detained by Chechen OMON commandos. But the Chechen Interior Ministry, to which the OMON reports, denied any knowledge of it at the time, and the ministry's chief of staff described the newspaper report as "conjecture."

Rebel web site Kavkaz Center said Friday that Arsanov was detained in mid-January and transferred to the prison in the Kadyrov clan's home village of Tsentoroi. The web site said Arsanov is being tortured and being told to publicly denounce former rebel President Aslan Maskhadov and admit "the wrongness of the course of the Chechen people toward an independent state." Last week, Maskhadov called on Moscow to begin peace talks with the rebels.

Kavkaz Center said Arsanov's elder son went to Chechnya from Baku, Azerbaijan, in an attempt to assist his father and was also detained by Kadyrov's security force.

Interfax, citing "well-informed" Chechen law enforcement sources, said Arsanov was detained and that no arrest warrant had been issued for him beforehand. Chechnya's chief prosecutor, Vladimir Kravchenko, said his office was looking into the reports about the detention, Interfax reported. A spokesman for the federal troops in Chechnya, Major General Ilya Shabalkin, said he had no knowledge of the matter, while Chechen Interior Minister Ruslan Alkhanov and Chechen Security Council head Rudnik Dudayev declined to comment, Interfax reported.

Human rights groups said in late January that eight of Maskhadov's relatives who disappeared earlier in the month were being held at the Tsentoroi prison.

In October, Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov suggested detaining terrorists' relatives as a way to prevent attacks in the wake of the Beslan tragedy. Kadyrov said Sunday that he would consider suing human rights groups that accuse him of abductions, Itar-Tass reported.

Arsanov, who was elected vice president on the same ticket as Maskhadov in 1997, has reportedly been providing political support and protection to Chechnya-based religious extremists, who are widely believed to have undermined Maskhadov's authority in the waning days of the republic's de facto independence in the late 1990s. Maskhadov fired Arsanov as vice president in January 2001 for refusing to fight federal troops when the second Chechnya campaign started in 1999, Kommersant said.