Staunton, July 28 – Martin Kochesokov, the Circassian activist who was arrested on the same day as Moscow journalist Ivan Golunov now faces up to ten years in prison because the authorities planted drugs on him just as they did on Golunov but the powers that be do not face the united opposition of his colleagues that forced them to drop charges and release Golunov.
In an interview yesterday, Kochesokov says that his tragedy and that of the Circassians is that Russian officials appointed by Moscow to run their affairs have gotten used to the idea that they can do anything they want, including make people simply disappear; and they are less responsive than officials in Moscow (meduza.io/feature/2020/07/27/esli-ne-sbavlyu-aktivnost-menya-voobsche-ne-naydut).
Nonetheless, the Golunov case shook them as far as their treatment of him has been concerned. “At meetings in defense of Golunov, people came out with placards about me. There were also pickets in Cherkessk, Daghestan, Europe, Moscow and abroad where there is a Circassian diaspora. And more than 200 people assembled at the time of [Kochesokov’s] trial.”
Because of that, the Circassian activist says, he was allowed to await trial under house arrest rather than behind bars. That shows, Kochesokov says, that the powers that be are less certain of their position now than they have been in the past. They certainly still feel more free to act as they like than do their counterparts in Moscow but not as free as they did earlier.
Kochesokov has been identified as a political prisoner whom the powers are using their beloved tactics of planting drugs and falsifying testimony and judicial decisions. He now faces up to ten years in jail. But he may escape that fate if all Circassians and all people of good will regardless of nationality speak out now.
No one thought that Golunov would be released, but that happened. If we speak out now, there is a chance that the same thing can happen to Kochesokov. He deserves no less.