Thursday, September 17, 2020

Russian Justice in Ingushetia has Two Faces: One for Officials and Another for Opposition Figures

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 16 – After a period of relative calm in August and early September, the courts in the North Caucasus dealing with Ingush protesters and the efforts of those protesters to call attention to the way in which the same courts deal with Ingush officials have resumed this week.

            An investigation by the Fortanga news agency reported that when Yunus-Bek Yevkurov was head of the republic between 2008 and 2019, few officials were charged with corruption despite evidence that many more were and even fewer were punished in any serious way for their actions (

            But the courts in Ingushetia and the courts in neighboring federal subjects where many Ingush cases are held adopt a very different and much more draconian approach when Ingush protesters are involved and hand down sentences that are either completely unjustified or so excessive that no one can see them as anything but political acts.

            And when appelatte courts do correct the mistakes of lower courts, they are careful to do so in ways that do not benefit the accused despite widespread efforts to present such instances as evidence of the fundamental justice of the courts and prosecutors in Ingushetia, the North Caucasus and Russia as a whole.

            Today, a Magas court sentenced Rashid Maysigov, who wrote regularly for Fortanga, to three years in the camps after judges refused to accept evidence that the drugs for which he was being convicted had been planted on him by the authorities. His lawyers will appeal (

            That decision follows one in the Zheleznovod city court in Stavropol kray which declared Ingush protester Akhmed Chakhkiyev guilty for his participation in the March 2019 demonstrations.  Because the authorities had kept him behind bars for longer than his sentence was, Chakhkiyev was allowed to leave the courtroom a free man (

            But the most duplicitous and pathetic action by Russian courts involved Zarifa Sautiyeva, the Ingush archivist whom Memorial has declared a political prisoner. Her lawyers 18 months ago appealed an extension of her detention while charges were being investigated. A Stavropol appeals court has ruled that that extension was illegal (

            The sad part of an otherwise welcome decision is that Russian courts have subsequently extended her detention and the decision on an earlier period of her being behind bars, September 12 to December 11, 2019, has no impact on her continuing to be held now.  Her lawyer says he may seek monetary compensation for this miscarriage of justice.

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