Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Ingush Seven Witness Says Yevkurov Provoked Protests to Hide Corruption from Moscow

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 8 – With each week, the trial of the Ingush Seven, accused of organizing an extremist group and urging participants in a March 2019 protest to attack police becomes less a hearing about what they did as witness after witness exonerates them than about former republic head Yunus-Bek Yevkurov and his role.

            At yesterday’s court session, witnesses for the defense suggested that Yevkurov had provoked the protests in order to distract Moscow’s attention from his corrupt machinations and that the land deal he signed with Chechnya’s Ramzan Kadyrov was illegitimate from the beginning (

            Musa Keligov, former deputy plenipotentiary in the Southern Federal District, says that clashes at the March 2019 meeting against the land deal were “from the beginning planned by Yunus-Bek Yevkurov as a means of districting the attention of the federal center of the corrupt schemes that were being carried out in the republic.”

            He said he had been aware from the beginning that “all this was a provocation;” and his words are likely to carry particular weight if not with the court then with the Ingush people not only because his then-senior post means that he was in a position to know and because unlike most witness testimony, his has been filmed and is available online.

            A second defense witness, Askhab Goygov, former republic minister of property relations and one of Yevkurov’s deputy prime ministers, said that he had expressed the view at the time and holds it to this day that the then-republic head’s decision to sign the deal handing over 10 percent of the republic’s territory to Chechnya was “inadequate.”

            Other witnesses yesterday not only dismissed as untrue the prosecution’s contention that the Seven tried to get demonstrators to attack the police and pointed out that in fact, they had done everything conceivable to try to calm the situation and prevent clashes (

            They also reported on contacts between the Seven and police at the time of the protest, something that prompted one of the Seven to ask the judge to what authority the police had to do that if, as the government claims, all the leaders were extremists. Those aren’t the kind of people the police should be talking to – and thus those they did talk to weren’t and aren’t extremists.

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