Monday, August 17, 2020

Caucasus Defender of Federalism Goes on Trial in Nalchik

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 14 – Martin Kochesoko, whom some in Moscow refer to as “the Caucasian Golunov” but who is being persecuted by the Russian government because of his outspoken defense of Circassian rights and his sharp criticism of the Putin regime for undermining them by its destruction of federalism, goes on trial today. 

            Like Golunov, Kochesoko has been accused on the basis of planted “evidence,” and like in the case of the Russian journalist, the formal charges against him have little or nothing to do with the real reason that the powers that be have gone after him. And also like Golunov, Kochesoko has attracted enormous support.

            The big difference is that Golunov is in Moscow, while Kochesoko is in the North Caucasus. Consequently, the Kremlin ultimately judged that it would only generate more problems for itself if it didn’t dismiss the case against Golunov but believes that it won’t if it continues to prosecute Kochesoko.

            Moscow is wrong for three reasons. First, the charges against Kochesoko are so transparent that no one believes them, including quite likely the officials who have brought them and are prosecuting him. As a result, the continued persecution of the activist will only further undermine public trust in the authorities.

            Second, this won’t be limited to the Circassians, although they undoubtedly will be the most immediately effected and vocal in their denunciation of Moscow for its actions. They will spread to all non-Russians and to activists in predominantly ethnic Russian regions because as Kochesoko makes clear it is his defense of federalism that lies behind his persecution.

            Moscow has tried to obscure that reality by trying to present Kochesoko as one more “natsmen” interested only in his own nation, but now even Russian outlets that have taken the trouble to speak with him have documented that as Sobesednik does in its issue today (

            And third, as the Sobesednik article shows both by its content and by its appearance, Moscow activists who all too often in the past are now turning more attention to the regions and republics, especially when as in this case, people in these places are coming together to oppose the same enemy the Moscow activists have, the man in the Kremlin.

            Freedom for Martin Kochesoko! Freedom for everyone in the Russian Federation!

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