Staunton, Oct. 6 – Three years ago this week, protests in Ingushetia over the deal that gave Chechnya ten percent of the republic’s territory began. Trials against those who took part, most prominently the Ingush Seven, continue, with widespread fears that more will be charged. And most activists are keeping a low profile or emigrating.
In the words of the Fortanga portal, “’the Ingush case’ has become for present-day Russia an unprecedented example of the suppression of a peaceful protest movement against the violation of the rights of an entire people” (fortanga.org/2021/10/ne-sud-a-sudilishhe-spor-o-graniczah-obernulsya-godami-presledovanij-dlya-ingushskih-aktivistov/).
Magomed Bekov, a defense attorney, says that the authorities’ charges are completely invented and that only two or three of the 165 volumes of evidence the government has presented have anything to do with the charges. At the same time, he adds, the defendants are under no illusions about what the verdicts against them will be or that others won’t be charged.
Magomed Mutsolgov, leader of the MASHR human rights organization, says that the actions of the officials have led to a significant decline in the amount of public activity because people are afraid that they will face criminal sanctions. As a result, in Ingushetia as in Russia as a whole, GONGOs have replaced NGOs in public spaces.
And in addition to keeping quiet, many former leaders of NGOs have left the country to avoid being arrested. He is one of them, as is the chief editor of Fortanga, Izabaella Yevloyeva. What thius means, activist Isropil Nalgiyeva says is that NGOs involved with politics have effectively ceased to exist.
At the Ingush Seven trial this week, defense witnesses continued to undermine the government’s case. Among them, former interior minister Dmitry Kava, said that he was completely unaware of any calls to hold the March 2019 protests. People assembled spontaneously and they did not attack the siloviki (fortanga.org/2021/10/ahmed-barahoev-zayavil-sudu-o-provokaczii-na-mitinge-v-magase/).
Three character witnesses for defendant Zarifa Sautiyeva said that the charges against her were completely at odds with her character and that they did not believe any of the things the government has said about the only woman among the defendants (fortanga.org/2021/10/svideteli-zashhity-obraz-zarify-sautievoj-nesovmestim-s-ekstremizmom/).
Meanwhile, in another case, that against Abo Dobriyev, who has been convicted of attacking siloviki in 2010-2021 and sentenced to life imprisonment, families and friends of his protested what they said was his unjust trial and excessive punishment (fortanga.org/2021/10/zashhita-ne-soglasilas-s-prigovorom-abo-dobrievu/).