Staunton, October 29 – The Russian Supreme Court, without yet explaining why, has left in force a lower court order that the seven leaders of the Ingush protest movement be charged not in their home republic as they and their lawyers have sought but in courts elsewhere to which it will be more difficult for their supporters to come.
Two of the seven, Akhmed Barakhoyev and Malsag Uzhakhov, addressed the court via video links, with the first demanding that Moscow follow its own constitution and allow the trial to take place in Ingushetia and the second saying that it is clear the Russian authorities want to try to show that “there is no civil society” (fortanga.org/2020/10/podsudnost-verhovnyj/).
He said that the Ingush had demonstrated and will continue to show that civil society in the republic is very much alive, albeit under attack from the powers that be.
These two men, plus Musa Malsagov, Ismail Nalgiyev, Zarifa Sautiyeva, Bagaudin Khautiyev, and Barakh Chemurziyev are charged with using force against representatives of the authorities and organizing or taking part in an extremist community. All seven deny these charges.
Zarifa Sautiyeva, one of their number, sent a letter from jail calling on Ingush to take care of elders and children in the face of the pandemic, saying that Russian news was completely unreliable so she feels she is cut off, and declaring that she had ignored “thanks to Allah,” she had ignored the pompous commemoration of Ingushetia’s union with Russia.
The only woman among those accused and someone widely recognized as a political prisoner says that she is studying English and reading the Koran, which is a source of comfort. With the release or sentencing of most of the protest leaders, she describes those left as “the Tsarina and the Six Heroes” (fortanga.org/2020/10/sautieva-zapiski/).
Sautiyeva concludes by thanking all those who have written to her or otherwise helped her with food and medicine, saying that she and her colleagues remain strong and confidence, and expressing the hope that all of them will soon be able to be with the other members of the Ingush nation in the future.
Because this week marks the 28th anniversary of the Prigorodny conflict between Ingush and North Ossetians, Fortanga interviewed Elberd Darbazanov, the head of Daymokkh, the Ingush National Cultural Society in North Ossetia about what his group has been able to achieve and the obstacles it still faces (fortanga.org/2020/10/darbazanov-intervyu/).
Before the 1992 war, he says, there were about 70,000 Ingush in the Prigorodny district of North Ossetia. Now, there are only 28,000 left. Of these only about 1500 are of student age, and only ten to 12 of these actually attend higher educational institutions in that republic. “People are afraid to send their children” to such schools, Darbazanov says.
The authorities and the population blame the Ingush for anything that goes wrong, he says. This isn’t because Ossetians are Christians and Ingush are Muslims because in fact many Ossetians are Muslims too. There are a few mixed marriages. But the biggest change is now the two groups interact with each other not in their own languages but in Russian.
A few Ingush, like his parents, have been able to recover apartments the North Ossetians seized in the wake of the war, but most have not. Daymokkh tries to help with this and other problems, but while the regional government is not openly hostile, it isn’t helpful either, apparently responding to popular hostility to the Ingush.
Most of the time, “officials never prohibit anything or block it directly, but any excessive activity by Ingush isn’t welcomed.”