Mothers of Missing in Russia's Islamic Region of Dagestan Stage Protest, Declare Hunger Strike

August 3, 2007

Author: Arsen Mollayev

Source: The Union-Tribune

Wire Service: AP

MAKHACHKALA, Russia – About 50 women occupied a central square in this provincial Russian capital on Friday, declaring a hunger strike and vowing not to leave until authorities tell them what happened to their missing children.

Police tried to break up the protest, staged by a group calling itself the Mothers of Dagestan, but the women refused to disband, said Svetlana Isayeva, one of the protesters. She said they will not eat until their demands for information and a meeting with the region's president are met.

Police tried to break up the protest because the protesters did not have a permit for the central square, Shamil Guseinov, a senior Dagestani police officer, told The Associated Press. Authorities approved the demonstration for another part of the city, he said.

The president of Dagestan, Mukhu Aliev, admitted last month that 76 people have been kidnapped so far this year in Dagestan. In six of those cases, the abductors wore camouflage uniforms similar to those worn by law enforcement officers.

At least 20 young men and women are believed to have been kidnapped by uniform-wearing armed men since April alone, Isayeva said.