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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Activist Abducted in Chechnya

A Chechen activist who represented separatist rebels before the European Parliament has been abducted in Chechnya by armed men, Russian and international rights groups said, warning that his life may be in danger.

Vagap Tutakov is one of the most prominent Chechens to be abducted in the troubled North Caucasus region in some time.

Tutakov was a local lawmaker and envoy for Chechnya during the 1990s, when it had de facto independence and called itself the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. After the beginning of the second Chechen war in 1999, he left Russia and represented the separatist leadership before the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

On Sept. 12, Tutakov was forced into a car by armed men in camouflaged uniforms in Chechnya's southwestern Urus-Martan district and driven off, a statement signed by the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said Friday. The groups said his brother witnessed the abduction.

Tutakov has strongly criticized the federal military campaigns in Chechnya and federal policies in the entire North Caucasus. "There is reason to believe that Tutakov was targeted for this abduction due to his political ideas and affiliations," the groups said.

The Chechen Interior Ministry told Tutakov's brother that it was not involved in his abduction, the rights groups said.