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Russia: Quash sentences against Ingush protest leaders

Responding to the sentencing of seven Ingush protest leaders to between 7,5 and 9 years in prison for organizing peaceful protests against the authorities in 2018 and 2019, Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said:

“The sentencing of these protest leaders today represents a gross violation of the rights to freedom of expression and assembly. Once again, Russia has failed not only to meet its obligations under international human rights law, but also to abide by its own constitution.  

“By jailing these protest leaders, the Russian authorities add their names to a long list of Ingush activists imprisoned simply for practising their right to freedom of peaceful assembly. The baseless charges levelled against them serve as little more than a tool to punish and intimidate activists, while their sentencing sends a chilling message to civil society leaders in Ingushetia and beyond.

The baseless charges levelled against them serve as little more than a tool to punish and intimidate activists, while their sentencing sends a chilling message to civil society leaders in Ingushetia and beyond

Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia

“The Russian authorities must quash the sentences against these seven activists and order their immediate and unconditional release. Russia’s relentless assault on free speech and the rights to freedom of assembly and association must end.”

Background

On 15 December 2021, the Kislovodsk City Court sentenced Akhmed Barakhoev, Barakh Chemurziev, Bagaudin Khautiev, Musa Malsagov, Ismail Nalgiev, Zarifa Sautieva and Malsag Uzhakhov to between 7,5 and 9 years in prison. They were found guilty of “organizing the use of violence against representatives of the authorities” and organizing and participating in an “extremist community.”

The activists from Russia’s Republic of Ingushetia in the North Caucasus were convicted in relation to their involvement in protests against the delimitation of the border between Ingushetia and neighbouring Chechnya. These protests took place in Magas, the Ingush capital. The protests were violently dispersed on 26 March 2019 by the Russian National Guard.

Amnesty International has examined the casefiles and concluded that all accusations levelled against the leaders of the protests are baseless.