Staunton, August 17 – As part of the Kremlin’s effort to present the recent Moscow protests as “mass disorders,” its siloviki are trying to find links between those who have taken to the streets in the capital in defense of their democratic rights and activists in the North Caucasus where there really have been “mass disorders” as the Russian authorities understand them.
Novaya gazeta journalist Irina Gordienko details what is known about these efforts including the raid on the Moscow office of the Legal Initiative Foundation, a group that works to defend people in the North Caucasus against official arbitrariness and abuse (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2019/08/17/81638-kruche-gor-tolko-sobry).
The raid took place, the journalist says, because the Russian authorities cannot imagine that Russians are standing up on their own for their rights but assume that some outside force – the West in one or another guise or the North Caucasians – must somehow be behind what is taking place in Moscow.
Olga Gnezdilova, a lawyer for Legal Initiative, says that her group has “no relation” to the Moscow protests and is too busy with its own responsibilities even to participate in them. She notes that the Russian authorities not only don’t believe that but ar going after other organizations involved with the situation in the North Caucasus.
Yesterday, for example, in Pyatigork, the SOBR raided the office of the General Lebed Peace-Making Mission in search of evidence for the Kremlin’s assumptions. Aleksandr Mukomolov, the head of the group who is a member of the Presidential Council on Human Rights, said they found nothing because there is nothing to find.