Monday, December 21, 2020

More Behind New Restrictions in Ingushetia than Just the Coronavirus Pandemic

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 19 – The government of Ingushetia has banned mass meetings in the republic until January 15, imposed a curfew on bars and restaurants after 10:00 pm for the same period, and extended the school holidays because so many pupils and their teachers are ill with the flu or the coronavirus.

            These restrictions are undoubtedly driven in the first instance by the pandemic which has hit this impoverished North Caucasus republic especially hard, but there is little question that Magas has acted as it has for political reasons as well (, and

            This week, the show trial of the Ingush Seven, the activists accused of using force against the police during the March 2019 protest against the Ingush government’s ramming through of approval of the border deal with Chechnya and even forming an extremist organization to do so, continues (

            Unless there are unexpected delays, the trial will likely conclude with a verdict against the seven sometime in the next three weeks; and Magas has thus put in place restrictions against the kind of popular protest such a verdict almost certainly will spark, restrictions that ostensibly have nothing to do with the trial.

            Consequently, just as Russian officials have invoked the pandemic to restrict the activities of demonstrators elsewhere and impose tighter control, so too Ingush ones in the government of Makhmud-Ali Kalimatov are clearly happy to have this excuse to cover what they are really worried about.

            The situation in Ingushetia is also heating up because of incautious remarks concerning the border of that republic delivered earlier this month by a North Ossetian official (, yet another reminder stability there is illusory (

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