The Moscow-based Memorial Human Rights Center has declared that five jailed activists from Russia's North Caucasus region of Ingushetia are "political prisoners," after they were jailed for participating in unsanctioned rallies in March against a controversial border deal with the neighboring region of Chechnya.
In a July 1 statement, Memorial said that Akhmed Barakhoyev, Musa Malsagov, Ismail Nalgiyev, Malsag Uzhakhov, and Barakh Chemurziyev were wrongfully charged with organization of violent events, when in fact they had done what they could to prevent hundreds of protesters from clashing with police.
In September 2018, the then-head of Ingushetia, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov signed the border agreement following secret negotiations, prompting activists in Ingushetia to call the pact invalid because it represented an illegal transfer of territory to Chechnya.
Several mass rallies against the deal in Ingushetia were violently dispersed by police and dozens of people were detained and later fined or jailed.
Memorial urged the Russian government to immediately release the five Ingush activists and bring those who initiated their persecution to justice.