Staunton, May 13 – Since the end of 2018 and beginning of 2019, when tens of thousands of Ingush went into the streets to protest a secret deal between Magas and Grozny in which ten percent of Ingush territory was handed over to Chechnya, few Russians have followed and spoken up on behalf of the dozens of Ingush who have since faced legal jeopardy.
It isn’t clear that even if Russians did so that they would be able to make a difference, the relatives of the Ingush Seven as the leaders of the protest are known say. After all, they note, many Russians and the international community are supporting Aleksey Navalny and he remains behind bars.
But the absence of such outside support, the Ingush say, means that they and their leaders have been left to face the power of the increasingly authoritarian Russian state on their own and cannot expect a good outcome from the current trial, Lilit Sarkisyan, a journalist for Moscow’s Novaya gazeta says (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2021/05/13/ingushskoe-delo-rossii).
The journalist says that the failure of Russians to pay attention to what is happening to the Ingush activists is “a mistake” not only because the authorities are acting in violation of their own laws and constitution but also because what is happening in the North Caucasus may spread and at the very least is destroying social ties between the Ingush and the Russian peoples.
Among the Ingush Sarkisyan spoke with was the brother of Zarifa Sautiyeva, the only woman among the Ingush Seven and someone whose role has attracted some attention as a result. She says she doesn’t consider herself a leader, but she is proud to stand alongside Ingush men in defending her republic.
During the protests, she as an unmarried woman could not go out to such meetings alone. Her brother Khizir accompanied her, a pattern that was so widespread in Ingushetia that women played a significant role in the protests two years ago. Now, Sarkisyan says, “the entire republic is following her fate,” but alas, few beyond it are doing the same.
Khizir says that “now the powers can arrest anyone they want to in Russia. Look at Navalny … The entire world stands behind him! But who are these Ingush, who knows about them? A couple of papers write about them and then forget.” As a result, he suggests, his sister and her colleagues face a horrific future.
It is certainly true that the Russian and international media have devoted little attention to the Ingush situation. But there are some happy exceptions among human rights groups. Most recently, for example, the Memorial organization has given a human rights award to Akhmed Barakhoyev, one of the Ingush Seven (mhg.ru/news/mhg-obyavlyaet-imena-laureatov-premii-moskovskoy-helsinkskoy-gruppy-za-2021-god ).