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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Killings in Chechnya Fall by 1/3

ReutersPolicemen standing guard under a portrait of Kadyrov in Argun on Saturday.
Killings and disappearances in Chechnya have dropped by more than one-third in the past year, human rights group Memorial said in an annual report. But the group cautioned that the fall might be due to a growing climate of fear in which people are afraid to report crimes.

The report documented 192 killings and 316 disappearances since August 2005, compared with 310 killings and 448 disappearances the previous year.

The report also expressed concern about continued abuses, particularly the destruction of four houses in the settlement of Borozdinovskaya during a raid to flush out suspected militants. An elderly man died, and 11 people vanished.

Reprisals are known to occur against Chechens who complain about abuses, said Ole Solvang, director of the Stichting Russian Justice Initiative, which helped Fatmia Bazorkina win a European Court of Human Rights lawsuit in July over the disappearance of her son in Chechnya. "People are turning to us less frequently. Those who are coming to us for help do seem to be more afraid, and it has become more difficult to get eyewitnesses to testify," he said.

The Memorial report said a clear improvement was the reconstruction of destroyed infrastructure and housing.

On Saturday, Argun residents celebrated the end of the rebuilding of their city. Streets were decorated with portraits of Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov reading, "We Are Proud of You!"