World Bulletin / News Desk
A human rights group said could close its branch in Chechnya following what they say threats from Ramadan Kadyrov, Chechnya's Kremlin-backed president, a Russian news agency reported.
The head of Memorial human rights group, Oleg Orlov, said on Thursday that the statements made by the pro-Russian Chechen president could be considered as "a direct and real threat" because they might be interpreted by the republic's law enforcement as a call to action against human rights activists, according to RIA Novosti.
Memorial activists have repeatedly accused the authorities of serious abuses including house burning, extra-judicial killings, torture and illegal punishment.
Kadyrov told a TV broadcast in Grozny that journalists and Memorial activists "are well paid by the West" and they were "the enemy of the Chechen people, the enemy of the law and the enemy of the state."
Last year, a Memorial activist, Natalya Estemirova and her husband have been found shot dead and Orlov accused Kadyrov of her murder.
Amnesty International also said in its report on Caucasus last year that so-called the counter-terrorism operation that the Russian authorities declared there gave a green light to human right violations by government forces in Chechnya.
In 2008, high-level Chechen officials, including Kadyrov, made public statements stating that the families of insurgents should expect to be punished unless they convinced their relatives to surrender.
The Memorial suspended its work in Chechnya following the murders but resumed its activities in December.
Insurgent groups still kept their fight against Russian forces in Chechnya amid small clashes. But Kadyrov opponents say he has imposed a regime of fear and impunity.