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Ingush sports and tourism minister 'alive and well' - spokeswoman

RIA Novosti

10:1417/07/2009 ROSTOV-ON-DON, July 17 (RIA Novosti) - An Ingush government spokeswoman refuted media reports on Friday that the Russian North Caucasus republic's sports and tourism minister had been killed in an attack.

Ruslan Balayev's car reportedly came under attack in the republic's Malgobek district at about 07:50 a.m. (03:50 GMT).

"The minister is alive and well. The attack targeted his deputy, Akhmed Chakhkiyev," Zhanna Almazova told RIA Novosti. "Media reports that Balayev has died as the result of an attack are false."

There is currently no information on Chakhkiyev's condition.

According to the Investigation Committee of the Russian Prosecutor General's Office, it has been established that Balayev was not in the car.

Russian investigators said however that two people were killed in an attack on their car in the same district on Friday morning. The bodies are currently being identified.

Russia's Ingushetia has seen a rise in violence in recent months, with the republic's president, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, badly injured in an assassination attempt on June 22. He is currently recovering in a top Moscow clinic.

A leading Chechen human rights activist, Natalya Estemirova, was shot dead in the republic on Wednesday.


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