Staunton, November 7 – Two Ingush participants in the March 2019 protests, Maksharip Batygov and Amirkhan Begov, have been found guilty by a Russian court and sentenced to 12 months and 11months in the camps and then immediately released because of time already served (fortanga.org/2020/11/batygov-osvobozhdenie/, kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/356188/ and fortanga.org/2020/11/bekov-osvobozhdenie/).
Both were charged with hitting policemen during the protest and doing so for political reasons. Both acknowledged they had struck siloviki during the demonstration, both denied that they had done so as the prosecutors have insisted and the Russian court agreed, but both have been in jail for months while the investigation ground on.
This is an increasingly common pattern not only in Ingushetia but elsewhere. The authorities charge someone, put them in pre-trial detention, keep them there for months, hold a trial that finds them guilty of whatever the authorities have dreamed up, and then releases them because of an established formula that equates time served to time sentenced.
The authorities try to present this arrangement as a kind of mercy, but in fact, the use of pre-trial detention as a form of intimidation and punishment violates the spirit if not the letter of Russian law and thus is becoming an increasingly used weapon in the arsenal of Putin’s “law enforcement” agencies.
It should be recognized for what it is: punishment inflicted before any finding of guilt is made, a human rights violation even if after conviction, the individual is allowed to go home because of the time he has already been forced to spend behind bars