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January 16th 2008 · Prague Watchdog / Beybulat Polonkoyev · PRINTER FRIENDLY FORMAT · E-MAIL THIS · ALSO AVAILABLE IN: RUSSIAN 

Ingush public opinion expresses opposition to harassment of "Voice of Beslan"

By Beybulat Polonkoyev

NAZRAN, Ingushetia - On Tuesday the Nazranovsky district court decided to move from Ingushetia to North Ossetia the trial of “Voice of Beslan", a non-government organization representing victims of the school hostage tragedy in 2004, on charges of circulating materials of an extremist nature. Meanwhile several Ingush public figures have come out strongly against the harassment of the organization.

The hearings held in Ingushetia on Monday and Tuesday were initiated after a complaint filed by Acting Ingush Prosecutor Magomed Aushev, who claimed that an appeal issued by “Voice of Beslan” leader Ella Kesayeva two years ago on November 30, 2005, and sent to politicians in Europe and the United States, had broken the law on extremism by making false accusations against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Ingush public opinion has come out strongly against the harassment of the "Voice of Beslan” committee. People cannot understand why the Ingush prosecutor's office should be concerning itself with this

"Surely this is a matter for the federal centre, or the government of North Ossetia itself?" a member of the Ingush parliament told Prague Watchdog’s correspondent. "It’s a regrettable fact that the Ingush prosecutor's office is at best in the habit of burying its head in the sand where extrajudicial killings and abductions in the republic are concerned, and is all too ready to foist its major problems onto the backs of our neighbours."

For its part, the Ingush prosecutor’s office pointed out that while there was no intention to harass members of “Voice of Beslan", there was a legal requirement to withdraw from circulation materials of an extremist nature. When asked why the charges were being filed more than two years after the materials’ publication, the prosecutor’s press office replied: "That is irrelevant – some cases take three or four years to prepare."

An Ingush religious authority, Mr. Tsetchoyev, told Prague Watchdog: "One could understand actions of this kind if they originated with the North Ossetian prosecutor’s office or the Russian prosecutor-general. But the harassment of female victims, in particular Ella Kesayeva and Emma Betrozova, who have shown integrity and perseverance in carrying out an objective investigation into the deaths of their loved ones at School № 1 in Beslan on September 1-3 2004 and the prosecution of officials responsible for the delay which made the hostage seizure possible, is at the very least ignoble and cowardly."

In Tsetchoyev's opinion, one other important point needs to be borne in mind: “The members of ‘Voice of Beslan’ have never let themselves be drawn in to any base or inhuman actions, unlike their colleagues on the ‘Mothers of Beslan’ organizing committee, who for the past few years have engaged in the deliberate incitement of inter-ethnic strife.”

This view is endorsed by the prominent Caucasus human rights defender Ruslan Badalov, who is surprised that Ingush prosecutor Magomed Aushev should suddenly have begun to treat as illegal statements made by female members of an Ossetian organization about the Russian President, while the very concrete actions of the "Mothers of Beslan" against Ingush people do not appear to interest him at all (see details).

"Voice of Beslan" leader Ella Kesayeva believes that the trial has been ordered from above, and is a consequence of the organization’s activities in conducting an independent inquiry into the Beslan terrorist act.


(Translation by DM)

(T)

  RELATED ARTICLES:
 · Website of "Voice of Beslan"
 · Russia puts Beslan activists on trial (Financial Times, September 14, 2008)
 · Photographs taken after the Beslan school siege (PW, September 4-5, 2004)



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