Staunton, July 27 – In yet another indication that the arrest of Zarifa Sautiyeva, a curator and activist, is turning Ingush opinion sharply against the authorities in both Magas and Moscow, Khamzat Chumakov, one of the most popular and influential imams in the republic, has called on deputies and officials to work to free her (fortanga.org/2019/07/hamzat-chumakov-prizval-deputatov-pomoch-osvobodit-zarifu-sautievu/).
Not only is Sautiyeva the first Ingush woman to be arrested during the crackdown, a violation of expectations of how the authorities should act, but she is almost universally beloved in Ingush society because of her work to document the history of Stalin’s deportation of the Ingush during World War II.
The powers that be have few good options. If they continue to keep her behind bars, there almost certainly will be mass protests even before most opposition figures are slated to be released at the end of September; but if they don’t and decide to release her, many Ingush will read this as a concession to their growing power and make additional demands.
Meanwhile, immediately after his release from 32 months of confinement for the illegal possession of weapons and for insulting then Ingush head Yunus-Bek Yevkurov and after he declared he will now continue the struggle for justice in his republic, Magomed Khazbiyev was called in to the offices of the counter-extremism center “E” in Magas for “a conversation,” an indication the authorities have no plans to let him off the hook (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/338395/).