Staunton, February 13 – In yet another move to suppress Ingushetia’s civil society, a court in Magas has fined Ingush Mufti Issa Khamkoyev 10,000 rubles (140 US dollars) for issuing an appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin asking that the Kremlin leader free the Ingush Seven now under trial in Essentuki in Stavropol Kray.
The appeal which the mufti made last December was declared an illegal act by the court which argued that by so doing the Muslim leader was encouraging Ingush to view the proceeding as illegal and thus engage in further protests against the authorities (credo.press/235734/, capost.media/news/obshchestvo/muftiya-ingushetii-oshtrafovali-posle-obrashcheniya-k-putinu-/ and kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/359733/).
Khamkhoyev’s lawyer says his client will now appeal to the Supreme Court of the Republic of Ingushetia. A hearing there is now scheduled for March.
Two things make this development noteworthy. On the one hand, it is the latest example of the Ingush authorities trying to rein in institutions of traditional society who have been compelled to fill roles normally occupied by NGOs, most of which have already been closed or gelded by Magas and Moscow.
And on the other, the timing suggests that the authorities believe that the case against the Ingush Seven will soon come to an end and that the almost inevitable guilty verdict will spark large-scale protests in Ingushetia and among Ingush and their supporters in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Western capitals.
Whether this heavy-handed approach will have that effect remains to be seen, but it is an indication that the increasingly repressive approach that officials in Magas and Moscow have adopted for Russia as a whole and Ingushetia in particular currently shows no sign of changing – and that new confrontations are ahead.