Staunton, December 24 – At the last session of the Essentuki trial of the Ingush seven this year – the next will occur only after the New Year’s holidays – the single witness to testify undermined the prosecution’s case by suggesting that the siloviki had engaged in provocatory actions and that none of the demonstrators had called for forcible resistance.
The witness, lawyers for the defense say, was a participant in the March 29, 2019, demonstration, declared that the authorities had offended Ingush by setting off a noise grenade during their prayers, but that he had not heard any of the Ingush protesters forcibly resist the siloviki or even call for that (fortanga.org/2020/12/svidetel-po-mitingovomu-delu-podtverdil-ispolzovanie-silovikami-svetoshumovoj-granaty/).
His testimony thus undercuts a significant part of the prosecution’s charges against the seven Ingush leaders and means that if the court does rule against them as seems likely, many Ingush will conclude that the Russian judicial system is organized not to produce justice but to oppress them. In that event, a new round of protest demonstrations is likely.
Today, a meeting was held at the office of the Council of Teips of Ingushetia in Nazran to discuss what to do next. In advance of the meeting, the Council’s acting head, Bagaudin Makiyev, staged a one-person picket demanding the release of the political prisoners now on trial in Essentuki (fortanga.org/2020/12/bagaudin-myakiev-provel-fleshmob-v-podderzhku-ingushskih-politzaklyuchennyh/ and kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/357954/).
Also yesterday, a second Essentuki court took 40 minutes to extend the detention of an additional Ingush protester, Magomed Khamkhoyev, who is not part of the Ingush Seven but has been in detention for almost two years for his role in the March 2019 protests. He will now be held until at least February 17 (fortanga.org/2020/12/arest-magomedu-hamhoevu-prodlen-na-dva-mesyacza/).
Meanwhile, in another Ingushetia-related development. North Ossetian Property Minister Ruslan Tedeyev sought to back away from his declaration that his republic’s borders should be rectified. That outraged Ingush at the time (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/12/north-ossetian-statement-about-defining.html).
But now Tedeyev says he was not referring to the border between North Ossetia and Ingushetia but rather the one between his republic and Kabardino-Balkaria (fortanga.org/2020/12/ruslan-tedeev-nazval-zayavlenie-o-granicze-s-ingushetiej-nevernoj-interpretacziej-ego-slov/ and kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/357939/).
His latest remarks may calm some Ingush, but they are likely to trigger problems between the KBR, where land issues are if anything even more sensitive than in Ingushetia, and North Ossetia, potentially opening the way for a new wave of protests in the region in yet another location.
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