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Russia: seven protest leaders in Ingushetia jailed for up to nine years

Peaceful protests were about plans to change the border with Chechnya 

‘Their sentencing sends a chilling message to civil society leaders in Ingushetia and beyond’ - Marie Struthers

Seven Russian protest leaders have been jailed for between seven-and-a-half and nine years for organising peaceful protests against the authorities in Ingushetia in 2018 and 2019.

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. 

The protests - which took place in Magas, the Ingush capital - were violently dispersed on 26 March 2019 by the Russian National Guard. 

This morning, Kislovodsk City Court sentenced Akhmed Barakhoev, Barakh Chemurziev, Bagaudin Khautiev, Musa Malsagov, Ismail Nalgiev, Zarifa Sautieva and Malsag Uzhakhov after they were found guilty of “organising the use of violence against representatives of the authorities” and organising and participating in an “extremist community”. 

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

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

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