Saturday, October 10, 2020

Russian Government Case against Circassian Activist Collapsing in Full View

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 8 – Russian government charges against Circassian activist Martin Kochesokov now stand revealed as inventions not only because prosecution witnesses are contradicting one another but because one policeman has testified that drugs were planted on Kochesokov, exactly what his defenders say happen.

            In reporting this development in a KBR courtroom, the Memorial human rights organization says that the authorities have shown their “complete incompetence.” Tragically, that may not be enough for a not guilty finding because Kochesokov, under torture, earlier signed a confession (

            Memorial traces the absurdity of the statements of government witnesses. Some acknowledged they couldn’t have seen what they claimed to see, others suddenly became forgetful when challenged, and still a third couldn’t explain how they even came to launch the case, a sign of its political nature.

            But prosecutors’ poor handling of the case has distressed even the judge, Kavkaz-Uzel reports. He suggested that they get their case in better order if they expected the court to return a guilty verdict, an indication that this show trial like so many others is now so over the top that even employees of the state can’t believe in it (

            Kochesokov’s case has already mobilized Circassians across the North Caucasus and the diaspora who have held protests on his behalf ( The Memorial and Kavkaz-Uzel reports almost certainly will lead to even more protests if the court convicts him anyway and to celebrations if it doesn’t.

            In either case, Moscow’s heavy-handed approach is backfiring and will make Circassians and others attending to the case even less willing to accept the Russian government’s charges in the future. That means that every time the authorities bring charges against Circassians, other Circassians will be likely to protest against them, exactly the opposite of Moscow’s hopes.

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