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Prosecutors Seek Lengthy Prison Terms For Leaders Of Ingushetia Protest

Ingush protesters pray during a rally against the new land swap deal between Ingushetia and Chechnya in Magas in October 2018.

YESSENTUKI, Russia -- Prosecutors are seeking lengthy prison terms for seven people who led protests in Ingushetia against a change to the administrative boundaries between the Russian North Caucasus regions of Chechnya and Ingushetia.

Lawyer Magomed Kuriyev told RFE/RL on November 8 that prosecutors asked a court in the city of Yessentuki, in the Stavropol region, to sentence Malsag Uzhakhov, Akhmed Barakhoyev, and Musa Malsagov to nine years each; Barakh Chemurziyev, Bagaudin Khautiyev, and Akhmed Nalgiyev to eight years each; and Zarifa Sautiyeva to 7 1/2 years in prison.

All the defendants are leaders or leading members of a group called the Ingush National Unity Committee that the Russian authorities labeled as an extremist organization and banned in July 2020.

The activists are charged with the creation of an extremist group and assaulting law enforcement officers.

The charges stem from an authorized demonstration in March 2019 held in Ingushetia's capital, Magas, to protest the closed-doors deal reached in September 2018 to settle an Ingush-Chechen boundary dispute.

The protest continued the following day without the authorities' permission and was violently dispersed by police. More than 50 people were detained, and charges were filed against at least 10 people.

Ingush opponents of the deal say that the region's land was unjustly handed over to Chechnya, whose strongman leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, has been accused of interfering in the affairs of neighboring Ingushetia and Daghestan.