Staunton, March 16 – Today a Stavropol kray court overruled an Essentuki judge who six days ago released Zarifa Sautiyeva, the only woman among the Ingush Seven, to house arrest. She was immediately returned to the detention center. Her co-defendants in response began a hunger strike and said they won’t participate in their trial until Sautiyeva is again released.
Prosecutors who had appealed the Essentuki judge’s decision said that Sautiyeva had violated the provisions of house arrest by using a telephone and thereby seeking to influence witnesses. The kray court judge was convinced and immediately ordered her arrest despite challenges by her lawyers (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/361813/ and kavtoday.ru/article/5835).
Her six co-defendants immediately announced they were beginning a hunger strike and said they would take no part in future hearings of the case until Sautiyeva was again allowed to return to house arrest (memohrc.org/ru/news_old/obvinyaemye-po-ingushskomu-delu-obyavili-golodovku-i-otkazalis-uchastvovat-v-processe).
Commenting on this course of events, Moscow human rights activist Lev Ponomaryev says that the March 10 Essentuki judge’s decision was highly unusual because he softened rather than made more restrictive the conditions under which Sautiyeva as a defendant was being kept (echo.msk.ru/blog/lev_ponomarev/2806044-echo/).
But “naturally,” the prosecutors protested, and “naturally,” the appellate court did what they wanted, he points out. However, prosecutors now find that what they have done has not intimidated the Ingush Seven but led them to take an even tougher line against the powers that be.
According to Ponomaryev, what has occurred is no longer “simply ‘an Ingush affairs.’ It is ‘a North Caucasus affairs.’” That is because as the result of the FSB which orchestrated all this for the Kremlin, the Russian security agencies are in the process of “blowing up” the Caucasus, a development they will of course blame on the defendants.