Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Moscow Using Ingushetia as a Testing Ground for Suppressing Dissent, Sampiyev Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 11 – Protesters in Moscow and other Russian cities “must carefully follow what is taking place in Ingushetia because it is there where methods for suppressing protest are being worked out which will soon be applied to them and must be prepared to defend [not only themselves but] their relatives and property,” Ruslan Sampiyev says.

            The editor of the independent Ingush news portal Fortanga argues that the siloviki are seeking to suppress demonstrations in his republic by going after the relatives of those who lead protests and their property and predicts this approach will soon be applied elsewhere in Russia (fortanga.org/2019/08/mitingovoe-delo-v-ingushetii-eksperiment-dlya-strany-prodolzhaetsya/).

            The latest searches and detentions in Ingushetia have been directed against the brothers or other relatives of protest leaders, with the brother of Malsag Uzhakhov, the head of the Union of Teips of Ingushetia, and the relative of activist Idris Abadiyeva, Musa Abadiyeva, being the latest victims.

            And in another new development, Sampiyev says, the authorities are increasingly going after property owned by or rented to those in the opposition movement, thus depriving them of any possibility of income independent of the state and making their continued participation in protests against the authorities more difficult.

            The editor says it will be “no surprise” to him “if tomorrow the authorities begin to put pressure on not only Muscovite or Arkhangelsk activists but also on their relatives” and warns those involved in the protest movement of the need to be prepared for such moves and to publicize them as a means of self-defense.

            The failure of protesters in Moscow to pay attention to what is going on in the regions and republics of the Russian Federation is a serious problem, the Tallinn-based regionalist portal Region.Expert says, and unforgiveable given that the authorities are doing exactly the same thing there that they are doing in the capital (region.expert/the_same/).

                All too often, the portal says, “Muscovites forget to draw parallels between themselves and other regions. For example, citizens of Ingushetia are also demanding the observation of constitutional norms and free election of republic leaders. And for this they are subject to systematic persecution and repression with numerous criminal cases opened against them.”

                In yet other parallels between the two situations, it continues, the powers that be call the peaceful protests of the Ingush “’mass disorders’” and turn off the Internet when demonstrations are taking place in Magas just as in Moscow. Moreover, if anything, the arbitrary and brutal actions of the police and Russian Guard are if anything worse in Ingushetia than in Moscow.

            But in Moscow, police repressions against residents of other regions are “typically ascribed to ‘local excesses’ rather than being the basis for the expression of solidarity with those who are protesting there” and becoming victims. Had Muscovites supported the Ingush or the Pomors or the many others, such repression might have not reached the residents of the capital.”

            However, Region.Expert says, “Moscow takes note of government arbitrariness only when it encounters it directed against Muscovites” even though “as long as the empire is preserved, no free elections in its capital will be possible.” 

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