Staunton, March 7 – The utter failure of prosecution witnesses in the Ingush Seven case to tie the accused to actions at the time of the March 2019 protest against Yunus-Bek Yevkurov’s land concessions to Chechnya have attracted widespread attention because they demolish the basis for charges that the seven attacked police.
But now, a new prosecution witness has undermined the other portion of the prosecution’s basket of charges, that the seven either created or joined together in an extremist organization, one of their number Barakh Chemurziyev says (ortanga.org/2021/03/ocherednoe-fiasko-sledstvennogo-komiteta-i-genprokuratury-po-skfo-zapiski-iz-sizo-barah-chemurziev/).
The prosecution insists that “not later than May 2018,” the seven formed a group on the basis of hostility to former Ingushetia head Yevkurov for the purpose of committing “crimes of an extremist character” in order to secure his ouster from power. Both the timing and the purpose are central to the prosecution’s claims.
But as Chemurziyev notes, the latest prosecution witness, Daud Khuchiyev, “not only did not confirm testimony given earlier but made a number of important declarations which strengthen the arguments of the defense.” He pointed out that the supposed conspirators in fact were divided on whether to seek Yevkurov’s ouster at the time of the March 2019 events.
Like most Ingush, the witness said, the Ingush Seven were united in their anger at what Yevkurov had done; but they were far from unanimous in believing that any useful goal would be served by seeking his ouster. At the time of the March 2019 meeting, they were pushed in that direction by civil society. They weren’t the ones who took the initiative in this regard.
“For us,” Chemurziyev says, “only the denunciation of the agreement or the suspension of its implementation were important.” And “we really were concerned about the establishment of tension both within the republic and the worsening of good-neighborly relations with the fraternal Chechen people.”
And “to the end, we hoped that [the land concession] was not a Yevkurov initiative” but rather something he was forced into by Chechnya and Moscow. Had Yevkurov supported the republic constitutional court which rejected the way the accord was adopted, he would not have completely lost the support of the Ingush people. He didn’t and thus he did.
Neither Magas nor Moscow can be pleased that its own witness has now testified to the facts of the case which show that Yevkurov was one of the conspirators against his own people, something that will make it even harder for the Ingush government or the Russian one to count on their support in the future, Chemurziyev suggests.