Monday, June 17, 2019

Agora Hopes to Achieve in Daghestan What It Did in Ingushetia – and Authorities Likely Fear That

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 16 – Last year, Pavel Chikov, the head of the Agora International Human Rights Group says, he and his colleagues were able to secure the firing and imprisonment of numerous members of the force structures in Ingushetia for torture and other crimes. Now, he says, he hopes to do the same in Daghestan (

            But precisely because of what has happened in Ingushetia in the intervening period, the mass demonstrations against the regime, his efforts are likely to face more resistance in Moscow and Makhachkala where officials may conclude that only if they allow such illegal actions by the force structures will they be able to hold onto power.

            Chikov visited the Daghestani capital last week to talk about his group’s activities across the North Caucasus.  Over the last year, he said, victims of official abuse have received 190,000 euros in compensation by order of the European Court, and numerous siloviki officers have been charged and convicted of illegal actions against the population.

            “Of the republics of the North Caucasus,” the rights activist said, “the most problematic and difficult place is Ingushetia because there is a powerful civic opposition,” with dozens of people under arrest and charged with crimes that could lead to long jail terms. 

            At least part of the explanation for why the opposition movement could grow to such an extent in Ingushetia, Chikov continued, is that his group achieved some great successes in reining in the security services: “the entire staff of the center for countering extremism [in that republic] was put behind bars for torture and murder.”

            He added that at the time “no one believed” that the rights community could clean house in the force structures of the republic. Most of the lieutenant colonels and majors who worked there had been able to do whatever they wanted for years and were “absolutely sure” that they were beyond any punishment.  Agora proved them wrong.

            So far, he noted, “we have not been able to achieve such major successes in Daghestan,” where conditions are deteriorating because of problems at the Chechen border and in social conditions in various parts of the republic. But he expressed confidence that with time, Agora and its allies would be able to achieve successes equivalent to those in Ingushetia.

            That is something the Putin regime and its defenders fear and seem likely to try to do everything they can to prevent. 

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