Staunton, July 27 – The Arabo-Turkic word amanat became prominent during the Russian imperial advance into the North Caucasus to designate those from recalcitrant auls who were kept as hostages to ensure good behavior from their extended families. Now, one Ingush prisoner says, Moscow is using the same tactic again.
Barakh Chemurziyev, an Ingush activist in pre-trial detention for his role in the March 2019 protests and who has been in jail for 16 months, says t he and his fellow prisoners are amanats the authorities are using to try to keep other Ingush from taking up the national cause (fortanga.org/2020/07/my-amanaty-majora-naryzhnogo-zapiski-baraha-chemurzieva-iz-sizo/).
The Russian constitution and law preclude the long detentions that Ingush activists are subject to, and even President Vladimir Putin and the Russian Supreme Court have said that Russians detained for pre-trial investigations should not be held for long. But in the case of Ingushetia, Chermurziyev says, all these things are being ignored.
Many have assumed that the powers that be are doing that to keep leaders off the streets and therefore limit the chance they will organize new protests, the activist says. But the powers have an additional reason for doing this: they want to use those they hold as hostages and threaten to treat them worse if there are any new demonstrations.
It is entirely possible that at least some of the extended families of the more than 30 Ingush activists still behind bars do not want to put them at risk by going into the streets, but the longer this new form of hostage-taking continues, the more likely it is that those on the outside will see protests as necessary even if the authorities treat the prisoners worse.
Meanwhile, family members of another Ingush prisoner, Baraudin Myakiyev, who is being held in Stavropol, say that the prison store there is now open only one day a week, making it impossible for most of the 1500 prisoners to make purchases. Prison officials deny this is the case (fortanga.org/2020/07/rodstvenniki-ingushskogo-aktivista-bagaudina-myakieva-pozhalovalis-na-zakrytie-magazina-v-kolonii/).
And Moscow said that 30 percent of working-age people in Ingushetia are unemployed, far more than any other North Caucasus republic and five times as much as the all-Russia average. Because official figures dramatically understate this problem, the real number is likely closer to 50 percent (doshdu.com/30-zhitelej-ingushetii-oficialno-javljajutsja-bezrabotnymi/).