Staunton, February 23 – As the Essentuki trial of the Ingush Seven who are accused of organizing an extremist organization wends toward its end, the Union of Repressed Peoples of Russia has called on Vladimir Putin to free them in order to calm the social-political situation not only in Ingushetia but across the North Caucasus.
The Union points out that almost all the witnesses the prosecution had brought forward have failed to provide evidence to back up the government’s charges and that the prosecution’s decision to read into the record its own conclusions is only lengthening the trial and raising the political temperature in the region (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/361105/).
But freeing them before any judgment is pronounced is not simply a matter of justice, as important as that is, the organization continues, it is a matter of the highest state responsibility. “The preservation of peace and concord in such a complicated region requires that both federal and regional authorities a balanced policy, especially in the realm of ethnic relations.”
Kady-Haji Khalkechev, the president of the Union, points out that “the North Caucasus is a unique region in which various cultures, nations and religions overlap.” There have been many errors in state policy. Some have been corrected; others have not; but this one, the case of the Ingush Seven, must be corrected to prevent disaster.
The appeal which Khalkechev signed called attention to the fact that “among those detained are two people of advanced age and that one of the imprisoned is a young woman.” Both of these facts have angered the Ingush people who fear that these were singled out by the authorities to make some kind of point.
Such a selection is especially worrisome because none of the seven accused has a criminal record. All have families and all enjoy the respect and authority of broad swaths of Ingush society. If Moscow is to help preserve “inter-ethnic and inter-religious stability” in the North Caucasus, the seven must be freed from detention as soon as possible.
The Ingush population would welcome this step and would see it as the opening of a bridge between the people and the powers, a bridge that many of them feel has not been available anytime in the recent past, Khalkechev wrote. That in and of itself could open the way to dialogue; and with dialogue mutual understanding would be possible.