Zarifa Sautieva attempted to halt clashes between protesters and law enforcement officers at a protest on 26 March 2019 in Magas
Memorial Human Rights Centre, in line with the international definition of ‘political prisoner, considers Zarifa Sautieva a political prisoner and calls for her immediate release. We demand that those officials guilty of the prosecution of Ingush members of the opposition be brought to justice.
In September 2018 the head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, and the head of Ingushetia, Yunus-Bek Evkurov, signed an agreement redefining the border between the two regions, according to which Ingushetia would transfer seven percent of its territory to Chechnya. The agreement was prepared in secret, without public discussion. Zarifa Sautieva, deputy director of the Memorial to the Victims of Repression and a member of the Ingush Committee of National Unity, became one of the leaders of the widespread movement of protest against this agreement.
On 26 March 2019 in Magas, the capital of Ingushetia, 20,000 people took part in a rally demanding the resignation of the head of the region, as well as the resignation of the heads of the region’s parliament and government, and the holding of free and fair elections. The authorities gave permission for the rally to be held in the course of one day, but those taking part declared the rally would assume a permanent character. On the morning of 27 March several hundred people remained on the square. They presented no threat to public order. However, troops of the National Guard [RosGvardiya] tried to disperse the crowd. Protesters resisted and ten law enforcement officers were injured.
A criminal investigation was opened and about thirty activists were arrested. Sautieva was arrested on 12 July. She became the sixth leader of the Ingush opposition to be charged with an offence under Article 33, Section3, and Article 318, Section 2, of the Russian Criminal Code (organisation of violence dangerous to the life or health of public officials carrying out official duties; punishable by up to 10 years’ deprivation of liberty). Memorial Human Centre has already declared Akhmed Barakhoyev, Musa Malsagov, Ismail Nalgiev, Malsag Uzhakhov and Barakh Chemurziev political prisoners.
In arguing that Sautieva be remanded in custody investigators presented the court with analysis of A. Algaev, an expert of the Chechen Chamber of Commerce, who, at the behest of the head of the FSB in Ingushetia, had examined what Sautieva said as demonstrators clashed with law enforcement officers: ‘Don’t throw chairs, don’t throw… Don’t break ranks, idiots! Keep in line… Tell them to keep in line and to move away.’ The expert concluded that the given statements were ‘intended to incite commission of specific actions.’
We agree with the expert. But it is obvious that these statements were intended to encourage protesters to stop the clashes. In other words, they show Sautieva is innocent of the charges, and not that she is guilty.
Having studied the documents of the criminal case and the circumstances of the events, we conclude Zarifa Sautieva did not organise violence and there are no grounds for the charges brought against her.
More information about Memorial’s opinion on this case can be read on our website.
This news item is available on our website here.
Recognition of an individual as a political prisoner, or of a prosecution as politically motivated, does not imply that Memorial Human Rights Centre shares or approves the individual’s views, statements or actions.
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