Rights violations soar in south Russia -Amnesty

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MOSCOW, Oct 25 (Reuters) Human rights violations in the Russian region of Ingushetia have soared and a repeat of the systematic abuses in neighbouring Chechnya is unacceptable, Amnesty International said today.

Russian federal troops have fought Chechen rebels in two wars since 1994 and the violence has spilled over into neighbouring regions. This year the focus shifted to Ingushetia, where reports of gun attacks, bombs and murders intensified.

Developments in the south Russian republic show signs of the same disregard for the rule of law as in Chechnya, the London-based human rights group said in a statement.

''The Russian and Ingush authorities must not repeat mistakes made in Chechnya,'' Amnesty International said.

''An increasing number of enforced disappearances, abductions and other human rights violations mark the rapidly deteriorating situation in Ingushetia.'' Russia's interior ministry declined to comment.

Russia has tripled the number of soldiers stationed in Ingushetia, a small, Muslim republic of around 500,000 people near the Caucasus mountains, and fighting has subsided over the last month.

Amnesty said Russia should not use illegal tactics against the rebels.

''The often complete disregard for the rule of law by the Russian federal forces during the conflict in Chechnya and the impunity with which they abducted, tortured and disappeared members of the local population have scarred the lives of thousands of people and undermined Russia's international standing,'' Nicola Duckworth, Amnesty's Europe chief, said.

''A repeat of the same tactics in Ingushetia is unacceptable.'' Amnesty highlighted a raid on a village at which, witnesses said, Russian security agents abducted seven men. It said other men had been abducted and released after being beaten.

Amnesty said its human rights worries in Ingushetia also apply to the republic's armed groups and there were reports these groups had murdered Russian families.

REUTERS SYU VC1744

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