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Rights group sounds alarm over Chechnya’s role in soccer World Cup

MOSCOW/CAIRO (Reuters) – Human Rights Watch has mentioned world soccer’s governing physique should sort out rights abuses in Russia’s Chechnya area now that one of many groups in this 12 months’s World Cup in Russia has chosen Chechnya as the situation for its base camp.

Rights teams and Western governments allege that the authorities in Chechnya repress their political opponents, discriminate towards girls and persecute sexual minorities, all allegations that Chechnya’s leaders deny.

The area just isn’t internet hosting any World Cup matches, however the world governing physique, FIFA, mentioned that the Egyptian nationwide staff will use the Chechen capital, Grozny, as their base between matches.

“This suddenly makes Chechnya, which was not on the list of Russia’s World Cup regions, one of the World Cup sites,” Tatyana Lokshina, Russia Programme Director for Human Rights Watch, advised Reuters Television.

“Chechnya has been run by Ramzan Kadyrov, a ruthless strongman, who with the blessing of the Kremlin has been ruling it with an iron fist through brutal repression for over a decade,” mentioned Lokshina.

“FIFA must understand that the situation with human rights in Chechnya is indeed so dire that unless something gets done without delay it’s going to cast an ominous shadow on the World Cup,” she mentioned.

FILE PHOTO: Alvi Karimov, Press Secretary for head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov, is pictured in the Chechen capital Grozny, Russia May 31, 2016. REUTERS/Said Tsarnayev

Contacted by Reuters on Wednesday, a spokesman for Kadyrov mentioned the stance adopted by Human Rights Watch was unfounded.

“These conclusions are not based on anything, they are not grounded in the real situation in the Chechen Republic,” mentioned the spokesman, Alvi Karimov.

“I can state with full responsibility that the Chechen Republic is a more worthy location than all the places where World Cups have been conducted up to his point.”

FIFA didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

The Egyptian staff supervisor, Ihab Leheta, mentioned that the selection of Grozny was endorsed by FIFA, and that the town had the best amenities for the squad.

He advised Reuters any reservations about Chechnya as a venue must be addressed to FIFA and to not the Egyptian staff. “For us the place is good and calm, the people are welcoming us,” Leheta mentioned of the Chechen capital.

According to FIFA, the Egypt squad will keep in a newly constructed resort in Grozny and practice on the close by stadium, Akhmat Arena. It is known as after Chechnya’s former chief, and Ramzan Kadyrov’s father, Akhmad Kadyrov, who was assassinated in a 2004 bomb assault.

Additional reporting by Brian Homewood in BERN, Switzerland; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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