Maksharip Ausjev arbeidet for menneskerettigheter i Ingusjetia. Det betyr konflikt med myndighetene. I helgen ble han skutt og drept av personer i en forbipasserende bil. Han er den tredje prominente menneskerettsaktivisten som blir drept på kort tid.

Maksharip Aushev worked to publicize human rights abuses and organize rallies against Ingushetia’s deeply unpopular former president, Murat Zyazikov — activities which observers said made him powerful enemies.

Aushev died when several assailants sprayed his vehicle with automatic gunfire from a passing car. A woman traveling with him was badly wounded in the attack on a road in the neighboring province of Kabardino-Balkariya, police said.

Aushev’s murder follows the killing in July of Natalya Estemirova, a prominent human rights activist who was found shot in Ingushetia after being kidnapped in Chechnya. And in August, Zarema Sadulayeva, a Chechen woman who helped injured children, and her husband were kidnapped and killed.

«Sadly, the new killing … clearly shows an atmosphere of impunity in the North Caucasus,» Tatyana Lokshina, deputy director of Human Rights Watch, said Sunday, according to the Interfax news agency. «Civil activities, human rights and opposition activities have virtually become a form of suicide.»

Lokshina, who personally knew Aushev, said that he became involved in rights activities after his son and nephew were kidnapped in 2007. Aushev later got them released.

«He started working in human rights in Ingushetia and tried to combat abductions. He was a very brave man,» Lokshina was quoted by Interfax as saying.

Aushev had worked with Magomed Yevloyev, a journalist, lawyer and opposition activist who was detained and killed by police in August 2008. Police said at the time that Yevloyev was shot and killed after he tried to grab a weapon from one of the officers.

Following Yevloyev’s killing, Aushev for some time took over his Web site, which was critical of regional authorities and reported on abuses, abductions and killings plaguing the southern province.

Shortly after Yevloyev’s death, the Kremlin dismissed Zyazikov, replacing him with Yunus-Bek Yevkurov. Yevkurov, a former military intelligence officer, has vowed to end abuses against civilians and quickly became popular in the region.

Yevkurov pushed for an investigation into Yevloyev’s killing, and a court ruled last November that his detention by police was illegal.

Opposition activist killed in southern Russia