Staunton, April 18 – Tomorrow, Akhmed Barakhoyev, one of the Ingush Seven, will mark his 67th birthday behind bars. His supporters both in Ingushetia and in Moscow are honoring him, the first by organizing a flash mob via Facebook and the latter by nominating him for the Helsinki Group’s human rights defense prize.
Each of these moves in its own way reflects what is characteristic of the relationship between the increasingly repressive Russian government and the efforts of those who defend the rights of citizens of that country to find ways to advance their cause even under the most difficult conditions.
Ingush lawyer, Magomed Bekov, journalist Darya Kornilova and activist Marina Ken posted a call for Barakhoyev’s supporters to join them in a flash mob to honor the imprisoned Ingush leader and to call attention to the injustice he and other Ingush are suffering at present (facebook.com/dnk112/posts/3778728075588592 and fortanga.org/2021/04/aktivisty-ustroili-fleshmob-v-den-rozhdeniya-ahmeda-barahoeva/).
The authors of the call note that Barakhoyev was born in exile in Kazakhstan but when it became possible returned to his home in the Prigorodny District which Ingushetia lost to North Ossetia in the early 1990s. He took part in protests against rights abuses in Soviet times, and in 1991, he helped write the law on the rehabilitation of repressed peoples.
Barakhoyev also participated in the preparation of the November 1991 referendum on the restoration of Ingush statehood and was involved in 1992 in rescuing the wounded from the Prigorodny District. “It is completely logical,” they say, that he was among the leaders of the March 2019 protest against the deal with Chechnya that cost Ingushetia 10 percent of its land.
He was arrested two weeks after the March 2019 protest and has been incarcerated ever since. Now, he is one of the Ingush Seven who is awaiting a verdict on the trumped-up charges the powers that be have brought against Ingush leaders in the hopes of suppressing all national dissent.
Also this week, his lawyer Karina Moskalenko reports, Barakhoyev has been nominated for the Moscow Helsinki Group’s human rights prize. Whether he receives it or not, the nomination ensures more people will know what the Ingush leader has done and will support him in his travails with the powers that be (facebook.com/663266475/posts/10158265549176476/?d=n).
Two years ago, the Mashr Human Rights group in Ingushetia honored him with its “Hero of Civil Society” award for his commitment to peaceful and non-violent change.Barakhoyev’s selection by the Moscow group would thus be entirely appropriate (fortanga.org/2021/04/ahmed-barahoev-stal-nominantom-na-premiyu-moskovskoj-helsinkskoj-gruppy/).
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