New detentions of Ingush-Chechen land deal activists

5 February 2020
Isropil Nalgiyev. Photo: ok.ru

Twelve more people have been detained in Ingushetia over last year’s protests against the Ingush-Chechen land deal. Those detained included Isropil Nalgiyev, a blogger who has extensively covered the protests and subsequent arrests in Ingushetia.

Magomed Bekov, a lawyer representing several activists against the deal, told OC Media that the security forces raided homes in three villages in Ingushetia and one in the neighbouring Republic of North Ossetia–Alania on Tuesday. 

He said that electronic equipment was seized from many during the searches.

Nine of the detainees were released after being questioned, while three remain in detention.

Since a large protest on 27 March 2019 in the Ingush capital Magas turned violent, dozens of participants have been arrested and charged. The protesters were demanding the reversal of a deal that handed 9% of Ingushetia’s territory to neighbouring Chechnya.

Nalgiyev’s mother, Liza Nalgiyeva, told OC Media that her son was detained on suspicion of ‘participation in an extremist community’.

Similar accusations of creating and participating in an extremist community were brought against protest leaders in January.

She said that masked armed men turned up at their house in the village of Ali-yurt, 8 kilometers from Magas, at around 6:00 on Tuesday. She said that the search lasted for two hours and that her son’s mobile phone and laptop were seized.

According to Nalgiyeva, after the search, she and her son were taken to the Investigative Department in Vladikavkaz, the capital of North Ossetia. She said she was also questioned and released in the afternoon.

‘I was already at home when Isropil called and informed me that he was taken to [the temporary detention center in] Nalchik [the capital of Kabardino–Balkaria]’, she said.

According to Nalgiyeva, the cars that security forces arrived in had no number plates. She said that just before crossing into North Ossetia, they stopped and attached number plates belonging to the Republic of North Ossetia–Alania.

‘Isropil was provided with an appointed lawyer’, she said. 

‘Last spring, the court fined him ₽10,000 ($160) for participating in a rally in Magas. He complained to the European Court of Human Rights for unlawful prosecution for participating in a public rally and of prolonged detention’.

Bekov said that relatives of all the detainees were ‘forcibly taken to Vladikavkaz and released after questioning’.

‘The use of violence against government officials’

Another of the protesters detained on Tuesday, Amirkhan Bekov, was denied access to his lawyer while in detention in the Investigative Committee of Vladikavkaz, lawyer Magomed Bekov told OC Media.

‘[Bekov] was detained under an article on the use of violence against government officials, but he refused to testify’, Magomed Bekov said.

Another participant of the 27 March rally detained on Tuesday was 55-year-old resident of Ingushetia Mukharbek Mamatov, according to Magomed Abubakarov, another lawyer representing participants of the protest.

According to Abubakarov, masked security forces broke into Mamatov’s house to take him away without identifying themselves.

‘They didn’t introduce themselves, they didn’t show any documents. His relatives didn’t even know who detained him, they said that later they would learn [about it] from the investigator’, he told OC Media. 

According to Abubakarov, Mamatov is now in a pre-trial detention centre in Nalchik, Kabardino-Balkaria. 

He said that Mamatov was also detained and questioned on suspicion of ‘using violence against government officials’.

‘Perhaps the article will be re-qualified to a lighter one’, Abubakarov added. ‘The suspect partially pleaded guilty’.

‘The Ingush case’

Human rights activists have labelled the mass detentions in Ingushetia of protesters against the Ingush–Chechen land deal ‘the Ingush case’.

The deal was signed on 26 September 2018 by the heads of the two republics — Ramzan Kadyrov and Yunus-Bek Yevkurov — without a popular referendum. It led to massive street protests in Ingushetia from October 2018 to March 2019.

At a rally on 27 March 2019, a clash broke out between protesters and security forces, as a result of which more than 30 participants in the rally were arrested and accused of using violence against government officials. 

The protest leaders who were arrested were later accused of organising the violence.

By the end of December, three people had been convicted and sentenced from 4 to 18 months in a penal colony. The Memorial Human Rights Centre has called the six arrested protest leaders ‘political prisoners’.

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