Monday, September 9, 2019

Supporting Those in Prison and Their Families Now ‘Unifying Idea’ in Ingushetia, Chablin Says

Paul Goble

            Stauntоn, September 5 – The Ingush people came together a year ago to oppose Yunus-Bek Yevkurov’s decision to give Chechnya 26,000 hectares of their small republic to Chechnya. Now, they are increasingly united by their commitment to support those the Yevkurov regime arrested for protesting that September 2018 decision and their families, Anton Chablin says.

            Not only does this support for the prisoners and their families show the growing cohesion of Ingush society, a unity far greater than in most other larger nations in the Russian Federation; but it also helps keep at the center of attention the original purpose of the protests – recovering Ingush land Chechnya with Moscow’s backing has taken away. 

            At present, most of the 30 plus Ingush incarcerated are in jails outside the republic, making it difficult for their family members and attorneys to stay in contact with them. And all but one – Zarifa Sautiyeva – are males and the primary breadwinners for their families. As a result of the arrests, many families are now in dire need.

            Chablin, a journalist who covers the North Caucasus on a regular basis, is clear about how important this assistance is: “humanitarian and human rights assistance to the political prisoners … has become a unifying idea for the Ingush people” (ингушетия-сплотилась-для-помощи-узни/).

            Initially, assistance to the prisoners and their families was haphazard, the work of families and friends. But the effort has become ever more organized. In July, activists set up the Ambulance Group, notified people about the needs of prisoners and their families via Facebook and Instagram, and began collecting money via Sberbank and PayPal.

            The money is being used to purchase food, medicine, and personal hygiene products for the prisoners and to cover the needs of their families. Local restaurants are providing food, and activists have arranged to pay for the school supply needs of the children of the prisoners. 

            In addition, Ingush activists have established a Flashmob through which hundreds of people “”not only in Ingushetia but in other cities of Russia” are able to “write letters to Ingush activists” and encourage them to remain strong with the knowledge that they and their cause have the complete support not only of the Ingush nation but of many others as well.

            People are also sending the prisoners books, and volunteers are now providing assistance with babysitting and other tasks around the home for their families

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