Saturday, April 27, 2019

Mass Arrests in Ingushetia Seen Triggering New Protests

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 25 – The continuing tide of arrests in Ingushetia among those who took part in the recent demonstration against changes in the referendum law, arrests that are being facilitated by video tapes and facial recognition technology, are almost certain to spark a new round of demonstrations in that North Caucasus republic, rights activists say.

                Tamirlan Akiyev, head of Memorial’s Ingushetia office, says that the arrests are not intimidating people but infuriating them.  People have told his colleagues, Oleg Orlov, Svetlana Gannushkina and Aleksandr Cherkasov, that they intend to continue their protests about the same issues that have animated them over the past year (

            “Mass arrests cannot lower protest activity, Gannushkina, head of the Civic Support Committee, says. “This always leads to the opposite result.” She said she and her colleagues will make that point with Yunus-Bek Yevkurov when they meet with him.

            Kalooy Akhilgov, a Moscow lawyer, argues that the arrests will lead to an intensification of the protests. A major reason for that is that young people form a larger share of those arrested now as opposed to last fall, and they are more likely to be radicalized by the experience of incarceration than are their elders.

            In another Ingush-related development, the Kremlin has rejected Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s call for the dismantling of all border posts in the North Caucasus, something he says will make everyone there feel part of a larger community rather than remaining in separate republics (

                Kadyrov’s plan is opposed by republic leaders who see the border posts as underscoring the importance of their federal subjects. But Moscow has now vetoed it because it believes the situation it the North Caucasus will continue to deteriorate and plans to use the border posts to isolate republics as necessary, Russian opposition leader Gennady Gudkov says.

            Aleksey Malashenko of the Dialogue of Civilizations Institute adds that the decision was made by the Kremlin and shows that there are real limits to what Kadyrov can ask for. He suggests that the Chechen leader, the top having made this decision, will stop raising the issue lest he provoke anger in the Kremlin. 

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