Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Ingush Increasingly View Prosecutions for March 2019 Meeting as Political Not Judicial Acts

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 28 – One year after the mass protest in Magas against Yunus-Bek Yevkurov’s give away of 10 percent of the land of their republic, Ingush residents view the actions of the police on that day and of prosecutors and courts since then as politically motivated rather than judicial actions (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/347622/).

            Dozens of participants were detained and 44 were charged with crimes, Memorial reports. Charges against three were subsequently dropped and ten have been released after serving their sentences. But that means that “no fewer than 30 Ingush remain behind bars a year after the meeting.”

            As of yesterday, 22 of the activists have been found guilty and sentenced to terms between four and 23 months in jail. One case is currently in court. The remaining detainees are still be subject to preliminary investigation, including eight of the most prominent for involvement in the formation of “an extremist organization.”

            The vast majority of those against whom charges have been brought maintain their innocence. Some have admitted to the specific acts the prosecutors mention but not to the political motivations the authorities insist were behind them.  Significantly, the courts have typically excluded any reference to motivations in the sentences they have handed down.

            Mustafa Vyshegorov, who was detained for his participation in the Magas protest from May 2, 2019, to February 21, 2020 says that the arrests were entirely political. He and others tried to leave the scene peacefully but they were blocked by the siloviki.  He said his prosecutors told him that failure to obey orders to disperse was enough for the charges against him.

            Yunus  Azhigov, another participant, said that the siloviki attacked the demonstrators first and that those taking part had been punished for expressing their political views.  His view was echoed by Said-Magomed Nalgiyev who was kept in detention between April 29, 2019, and February 7, 2020.

            Nalgiyev added that the authorities were acting against their own interests. By arresting the protesters, they have only created a situation in which even more Ingush are angry at the powers that be, although with the leaders in jail, there are few who are ready to assume responsibility for organizing them.

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