Monday, April 6, 2020

Ingush Protests that Brought Down Yevkurov Mark ‘New Page’ in History of Russian Civil Society, Kodzoyev Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 4 – The Magas Case, which began exactly a year ago, showed that civic protests could bring down a Kremlin appointee in the regions but also that Russian siloviki have resolved to deploy even more pressure against the Ingush lest this become a model for other nations within the current borders of the Russian Federation, Sultan Kodzoyev says.

            On the pages of Portal Six, the Ingush commentator argues that there is no question that disciplined and peaceful civic protests were responsible for the ouster of Yunus-Bek Yevkurov who lost all authority when he gave up ten percent of the republic’s land to Chechnya in a backroom deal (магасское-дело-новая-страница-в-гра/).

            But equally clearly, that victory for civil society prompted the powers that be to unleash a campaign of repression against the Ingush people not only to prevent them from building on their success in the republic but also to discourage others from trying the same tactics by showing how high the price would be.

            Kodzoyev says that now, a year after it began, “the Magas case” has “only solidified civil society in Ingushetia and in many other regions and prom prompted them to insist on their rights being observed.” That gives some hope that if Moscow tries to repeat what it has done in Ingushetia, society would rise up against it.

            According to the Ingush commentator, “the Kremlin wasn’t expecting such a drawn out process or even more the shift in the focus of the protests” from being about the border to being primarily about the liberation of political prisoners,” a shift that means the situation has passed from being under the regime’s control.

            As a result, he continues, what we have today is “the very same protest electorate which rejects the initiatives of the federal authorities … sabotages all events significant to the state, and has received broader support in protest circles of the rest of the country,” thereby undermining the authority of Moscow and the regional powers that be.

            Kodzoyev spoke with two experts to get their reactions about the meaning of the past year in Ingushetia, Ilya Grashchenkov of the Center for the Development of Regional Policy and Andrey Sabinin of the Agora international human rights organization.

            According to the former, “Ingushetia has triggered a wave of federalization for all of Russia” during the pandemic and about other issues in Buryatia, Kalmykia, Sakha, and Tuva,  by showing what is possible and by standing up to the pressure of the authorities after the initial demonstration.

            The powers may have been able to create the illusion of calm and stability, but they have in fact undermined their position just below the surface, Grashchenkov says.

            Sabinin adds that the way in which the powers have gone about suppressing the Ingush protests has undermined the rule of law and made future protests ultimately more likely. There are several reasons for that but they spring from what people can see is the willingness of the powers that be to lie in order to repress any disagreement.

            Before very long, the lawyer suggests, judges in Ingushetia are going to be confronted by the following question: “If you don’t trust the [Russian] procurator general and the [Russian] Supreme Court, why are you still working instead of leaving the bench?”

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