Activist, journalists kidnapped in Ingushetia

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NAZRAN, Russia, Nov 24 (Reuters) One of Russia's top human rights activists and a handful of journalists were beaten and briefly abducted from their hotel in the southern province of Ingushetia, a rights group said today.

Oleg Orlov of rights group Memorial said he and a film crew from REN-TV channel were taken from the hotel in Ingushetia's capital Nazran by a group of armed and masked people who said they were from the security forces, dealing with terrorism.

''They kept us in a truck for several hours, then took us out of the truck outside the town and beat us. Then they drove away leaving us in a field,'' Orlov told Reuters.

Ekho Moskvy radio station reported that one of the TV crew members had concussion.

Orlov said the kidnappers were from the security forces or the police, who he accused to employing scare tactics before a planned mass opposition demonstration across the country.

''It was a blatant action of intimidation, they get paranoid,'' he said.

The police were not available for comment.

Russia's opposition is planning to hold demonstrations across the country today to protest against a pro-Kremlin party's stranglehold on politics ahead of a parliamentary election next month.

Demonstrators were planning to protest in Nazran, but the action was banned by the authorities after organisers said over 10,000 people were expected to attend it.

Violence is not rare in Ingushetia, which borders Chechnya in Russia's turbulent North Caucasus region, with barely a day passes without a shooting, bombing or kidnapping.

REUTERS RJ BD1716

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