Friday, November 27, 2020

Ingush Activists Win Major Victory at Preliminary Hearing – Their Trial will Be Mostly Open

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 24 – Even though prosecutors have sought to conduct the trials of the seven leaders of the Ingush protest movement behind closed doors lest the sessions spark new protests, a judge at the Kislovodsk city court has ruled that the trial will be open to the public and that audio and video recordings can be made.

            The judge’s ruling means that when the trial of the seven resumes on December 1, people in Ingushetia and the world will know more about what the authorities are doing than many had expected, although the court did say that it would close some sessions where “secret witnesses” will testify (

            At the same time, the court extended the detention of the seven – Akhmed Barakhoyev, Musa Malsagov, Bagaudin Khautiyev, Barakh Chemurziyev, Malsag Uzhakhov, Ismail Nalgiyev and Zarifya Sautiyeva – for another six months despite appeals by Muslim leaders, Memorial and the Council of Teips of Ingushetia that these political prisoners be released (, and

            The decision of the Kislovodsk judge is the latest indication of the difficulties Moscow and Magas continue to have in managing this judicial process. On the one hand, they want to prevent the trial from sparking protests in Ingushetia and thus have moved the hearings outside the republic and demanded that the sessions be closed to the public.

            But on the other, the powers that be in both places want to use this massive case to send a message to the Ingush and others that the authorities can and will crack down against anyone who protests anything they do. That requires at least some publicity, and so the authorities clearly desire some coverage.

            Whether they will be able to maintain the balance they desire if there are audio and video recordings of the sessions as well as reports by family and supporters of those charged who may be able to attend the hearings at a court outside of Ingushetia remains to be seen. But the very fact that at least some coverage will be possible should act to constrain what the court will do.

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