Staunton, June 8 – Sometimes Russian repression against one individual distracts attention from similar acts of repression against other individuals and groups. Sometimes it has just the opposite effect and ensures that the latter gain the kind of attention they might not otherwise get.
But what is especially important in either case is to connect the dots, to see how what Moscow is doing in one place informs or even defines what it is doing in another, lest some commentators by focusing on only one side minimize the threat or open the way for the Kremlin to win points by making concessions in one case but not in any others.
Almost the entire Russian opposition and many in the West have been outraged by the arrest of Moscow investigative journalist Ivan Golunov and the way in which the powers that be have planted drugs on him so as to be able to discredit him in the eyes of Kremlin supporters and to bring more serious charges against the journalist.
Unfortunately, as this has happened, Russian officials have adopted exactly the same strategy and for the same reasons against Martin Kochesoko, a Circassian activist and leader of the Khabze organization, arresting him and planting drugs on him because of his staunch support for freedom and the rights of his people (afterempire.info/2019/06/09/kochesoko33/).
What is even worse and more instructive about the nature of the Russian powers that be is that there is clear evidence that in Kochesoko’s case, the authorities plotted this well in advance and have embedded the charges against him into a larger campaign against all Circassian activists who dare to criticize Russian oppression.
Those who are defending Golunov should also be defending Kochesoko. They can find good reporting on his case at kavkazr.com/a/29988347.html, caucasustimes.com/ru/v-nalchike-arestovan-cherkesskij-aktivist-martin-kachesoko/, circassianprogress-rus.blogspot.com/2019/06/blog-post_8.html and afterempire.info/2019/06/09/kochesoko33/.
The actions taken against both are rooted in politics, not drugs. Golunov has exposed the criminal activities of Putin’s power vertical and the oligarchs; Kochesoko has taken the lead in declaring that “the constitution isn’t working, federalism is being destroyed, and the powers have distanced themselves from the people and thereby deepened the systemic crisis” (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/05/circassians-must-govern-themselves.html).
The case Russian officials have trumped up against the Circassian leader should spark just as much outrage as the one they have manufactured against Golunov. They deserve no less. (For background on Kochesko’s impressive activities all too often passed over in silence in Moscow, see kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/325671/).