Wednesday, April 24, 2019

‘If Ingushetia is Set Afire, Russia Will Burn,’ St. Petersburg Protest Placard Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 24 – A civic activist in the Northern capital carried a placard reading, “If Ingushetia is set afire, Russia will burn,” however much the powers that be think they can suppress the Ingush people by violence and keep others in the country from hearing about it by banning media coverage, according to Democratic Petersburg’s Olga Smirnova.

            In an 800-word broadside posted on various websites, she says that since last fall, Moscow and Magas have violated the constitution and the laws of Russia and that these violations have become more numerous since the protests of March 26-27 because now outside siloviki have been brought it as enforcers (

            Smirnova provides a list of 32 people now being held in administrative detention and 13 more that are already in jail.  She suggests that her list is incomplete and that the actual number incarcerated is growing every day.  Many keep being moved about so that no one can help them, and not all are being released when they are supposed to be. 

            She says that she and her activist colleagues are “infuriated by the arbitrariness of the authorities directed at the suppression of the will of the people of Ingushetia and also at attempts to hide what is going on from Russian society behind a curtain of silence and lies.”

            To counter this, Smirnova says, “we call all the citizens of St. Petrersburg who are not indifferent to the violations of human rights in out country and who consider unacceptable and dangerous for the country the Kremlin’s use of force to impose decisions on subjects of the Russian Federation which they by law have the right to make independently to show their solidarity by taking part in protests” against this policy.

            In reproducing Smirnova’s declaration, the editors of the Ingush opposition site Zamanho make an even more important statement: “Ever more residents of Russia are turning their attention to the crisis situation in our region and precisely to the continuing political repressions in relation to the population of the republic. Enormous thanks to all who are not indifferent.”

            “Many understand,” the editors continue, “that Ingushetia is a testing gorund where those who have power are applying forceful resolutions of problems under the name ‘people.’ If the powers that be will be able to suppress a peaceful, just and democratic protest, then in any other region they will do this with greater ease because they’ll already have experience.”

            “By demonstrating today solidarity with the Ingush,” they say, “representatives of other peoples of Russia are creating on their own territories protection for the rights and freedoms of man and citizen.  The leadership must reflect upon the fact that the people is not a bunch of alcoholics. The people is a group of individual personalities with moral and cultural values.”

            And they will be showing that “the multi-national people of Russia is too complex a mechanism to run by means of dictatorship, zombification, and repression.”

            Meanwhile, on the ground in Ingushetia, arrests, searches, and court cases continued to mount (,  and, the most important aspect being the increasing prominence of FSB and Russian siloviki rather than Ingush police, an indication the latter may be becoming unreliable.

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