Thursday, March 25, 2021

Ingush Seven End Hunger Strike, Urged to Return to Courtroom

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 23 – The members of the Ingush Seven who began a hunger strike to protest the return to detention of one of their number, Zarifa Sautiyeva, have suspended that action in deference to calls from Ingush society, the republic muftiate, and the Union of Teips of Ingushetia.

            They say they have achieved at least part of their goal by attracting national and international attention to the injustice that has been visited on Sautiyeva (, and

            Now, the Ingush Seven, who also declared that they would now longer take part in what they describe as the show trial being conducted against them are being pressed to return to the courtroom by Moscow rights activists who insist that taking part in such hearings gives them a useful chance to present their positions.

            Lawyers for the seven say that their clients may not appear while the prosecution continues to read from investigation files or presents its witnesses but that they have not decided to avoid returning in order to make final statements or to react to verdicts that are likely to be handed down (

            Meanwhile, as the second anniversary of the March 28, 2019, protest that gave rise to the arrest of the Ingush Seven and more than 40 other Ingush activists approaches this weekend, several of the Seven say that Ingushetia has been radicalized to the point that there is now almost no trust in Moscow (

            That is because, they say, the Ingush head, Makhmud-Ali Kalimatov, has refused to say anything about the arrests and trials, claiming that he has no authority to do anything. His insistence on that point has had the result that ever more Ingush blame Moscow entirely for what is going on and not the Ingush government itself. 

            Kalimatov personally is unlikely to change sides and come out in support of the Ingush Seven or other Ingush under arrest and facing trial. But the fact that most people in the republic think Moscow is behind all of this may mean that some in the government there are sympathetic to the victims of this repression.

            That in turn could mean that in the case of future protests, some of them as was the case with an Ingush police unit two years ago may be reluctant to crack down on demonstrators. And that in turn suggests that the chief result of Moscow’s actions in Ingushetia over the last two years has been to unite the Ingush against the Russian capital. 

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