Staunton, January 16 – Facing ever more challenges to the flimsy evidence they have for the charges they have made against Ingush protesters, Russian prosecutors have now added the charge of participating in an extremist group to the indictments of Barakh Chemurziiyev, Zarifa Sautiyeva, Ismail Nalgiyev, and Akhmed Barakoyev (fortanga.org/2020/01/5268/).
Such charges are easier for the prosecutors to maintain – any meetings of these people can be characterized as extremist – and have the additional utility from the point of view of the authorities of discrediting the protesters by denouncing them as extremists rather than merely Ingush concerned about their own republic’s fate.
There are indications that prosecutors plan to add similar charges to any Ingush protesters now in detention if they do not admit their guilt and that they are wielding the threat of longer sentences against those who now maintain their innocence and putting pressure on their relativbs as well (https://www.kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/344742/kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/344741/,
Meanwhile, there were two other developments on the Ingush front today. First of all, the Chamber of Notaries of the Republic of Ingushetia added its voice to those, including the Council of Teips and the republic lawyer’s association, urging republic head Makhmud-Ali Kalimatov to reappoint the current members of the republic Supreme Soviet (fortanga.org/2020/01/notarialnaya-palata-prosit-kalimatova-pereizbrat-dejstvuyushhij-sostav-ks-ri/).
And second, Marina Ken, a St. Petersburg activist who has conducted a series of individual pickets demanding the release of Ingush political prisoners, gave an extensive interview to the Fortanga news agency in which she discussed the state of play in Russia about support for the Ingush (fortanga.org/2020/01/my-imeem-prava-unyvat-i-opuskat-ruki-intervyu-s-uchastnitsej-piketov-v-zashhitu-ingushskih-uznikov-marinoj-ken/).
Ken said that her impression after the recent protests is that Russian society is “very polarized but that ‘defenders of the regime’ are in a clear minority, that good sense is quietly overcoming fear, and that this cannot but be an occasion to be pleased.” Whether this will lead to more actions, however, is unclear.
“People are tired of lies and divisions and therefore we ever more often hear sincere words of gratitude simply because we have stood up and shown that there are people who are not indifferent and that all is not yet lost … I ant to remind those [who may be losing hope] that there are very many people” who back the Ingush even if they haven’t demonstrated for them.