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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chechen Government Presses Interior Ministry Over Torture

Federal law enforcement units continue to torture detainees in Chechnya, the Chechen government said, warning of a wider social unrest if it continues.

Speaking at a government meeting Friday in Grozny, regional lawmaker Ibrahim Khultygov said members of a unit known as ORB-2 routinely abducted relatives of detainees and tortured or used them to pressure the detainees themselves. The unit is affiliated with the Interior Ministry's southern branch.

The government later approved a resolution calling on Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov to do more to deal with the problem.

Officials with the Interior Ministry's southern branch refused to comment on the allegations, which echo those made in a March report by the Council of Europe's torture prevention committee.

Following the report's release, Kadyrov complained about the treatment of inmates at a detention facility controlled by ORB-2 in the town of Urus-Martan, saying they were "systematically subjected to torture."

Some observers speculated that the allegations leveled at the federal authorities are aimed at bolstering Kadyrov's standing among Chechens and helping him assert greater control over law enforcement actions in the republic.

Russian and international rights groups have also long accused authorities in Chechnya, including Kadyrov, of torture and rights abuses.

In another development, Kadyrov has ordered that most cafes and restaurants be closed after 8 p.m., ostensibly to prevent drunk driving.

In explaining his decision, he compared drunk drivers to Chechen rebels, saying: "What difference does it make at whose hands people are killed in the republic? Statistics tell us that more people actually die in road accidents than as a result of armed clashes," according to the Prague Watchdog, which tracks the situation in Chechnya.