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Makhachkala’s Sovetsky District Court has partially upheld a complaint against the government for arresting and prosecuting the organiser of a 26 March anti-corruption rally. Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs has been ordered to pay Marat Ismailov ₽25,000 ($430) in moral damages.
A number of Makhachkala residents attempted to participate in the rally on 26 March, which coincided with anti-corruption rallies in a number of cities in Russia following a call by opposition figure Aleksey Navalny. The rally in Makhachkala ended with police dispersing the crowd and detaining several dozen people.
All of the detainees were released later that day, except for Ismailov, and two other participants of the rally, Olga Tochena and her boyfriend Vsevolod Zhuravlyov, a citizen of Belarus.
On 27 March, the three were charged with an administrative offence for holding an unauthorised public event. The court ordered Ismailov to pay a fine of ₽10,000 ($170). The case was dropped ‘due to insignificance’ for almost 40 others who had been detained.
‘Termination due to insignificance is not an acquittal: the court still found them guilty but did not issue a punishment. After that, eight people decided to appeal this decision in the Supreme Court,’ Ismailov told OC Media.
In June, Daghestan’s Supreme Court overruled the Sovetsky District Court’s judgement against protesters. On this basis, Ismailov filed a complaint for moral damages.
In his ruling on 26 October, Judge Khasan Dzhunaidiyev fined the Interior Ministry but rejected a complaint against the Makhachkala city administration. Ismailov had sought damages totalling ₽100,000 ($1,700) from police, the city administration, and Russia’s Ministry of Finance.
‘The judge decided the administration of Makhachkala supposedly did not interfere in any way, did not violate my rights. I do not agree with this; I don’t understand how the judge could decide this. On Wednesday we will have the judge’s ruling. Once we familiarise ourselves with it we will decide whether we should appeal it or not’, Ismailov said.
On 12 Junе, another attempt was made to hold an anti-corruption rally in Makhachkala, again after a call from Navalny. Eight people were arrested.
[Read on OC Media: Ten arrested in Russian anti-corruption protests in North Caucasus]
Attitude in Daghestan towards Navalny, who has made a number of derogatory comments towards people from the North Caucasus in the past, are complicated. While often those protesting against corruption are automatically considered to support him, many of the protesters deny this.
One young attendee of the rally, Alikhan, said after it was over, ‘I did not come in favour of Navalny, I came against corruption’.
A student named Alzhan told OC Media on 12 June ‘I came to express my displeasure. I do not like this regime. There is a complete neglect of the rule of law’.
But many young people in the republic support Navalny.
‘I would like Putin to be the president of the country, and Navalny to be the prime minister. Let Navalny be responsible for what happens inside the country, and Vladimir Vladimirovich for foreign policy’, one high school student said after the rally on 12 July, in a conversation with his classmates.