The Persecution of Malsag Uzhakhov

malsag_uzhahov
Malsag Uzhakhov. Photo courtesy of Memorial Human Rights Centre

Malsag Uzhakhov, Chairman of the Council of Teips of the Ingush People, to Remain in Police Custody Until December 25
Yessentuki City Court Today Extended His Arrest for Three Months
Memorial Human Rights Center
September 24, 2019

Malsag Uzhakhov, born 1952, has been accused of organizing violence, threatening to the life and health of public officials, per Articles 33.3 and 318.2 of the Russian Federal Criminal Code, during clashes between protesters and the security forces in Magas on March 27, 2019

In addition, he has been charged with establishing and/or managing an organization whose activities involved inducing people to refuse to perform their civic obligations or commit illegal acts, per Article 239.2 of the Russian Federal Criminal Code.

If found guilty of the first charge, Uzhakov could face up to ten years in prison, while the maximum sentence for the second alleged offense is three years in prison. 

Uzhakov’s custody extension hearing was supposed to take place yesterday, but his defense counsel had moved to have his client take part in the hearing via video link since he was unwell and his condition could have deteriorated if he were transported to Yessentuki from the remand prison in Vladikavkaz.  

It transpired that the courtroom was not equipped for video links, so the hearing was postponed to today.

“The term in police custody was extended without any grounds whatsoever,” said Uzhakov’s defense counsel, Jabrail Kuriyev. “Police investigators presented the court with the same documents they presented during the initial custody hearing and the extension hearing on June 6, and they made an identical petition to the court. This runs counter to the recommendation made by the Russian Supreme Court on December 19, 2013, that fresh, updated evidence as to the necessity of keeping accused persons in police custody has to be presented every time an extension is requested. Contrary to this recommendation, no new evidence was presented to the court. The decision to extend Uzhakhov’s arrest was made on the basis of conjectures and assumptions that he would somehow prejudice someone if he were released from remand prison.” 

“While he was being taken from the Vladikavkaz Remand Prison to Yessentuki, they had to try and lower his blood pressure twice. They stopped along the way and he was sick. Malgas’s health is poor. His blood pressure was also high during the hearing, even though he had taken a pill. When the court retired to chambers, his pressure was 180. We thought about giving him a shot to bring it down. His blood sugar is two or three times higher than it should be,” Kuriyev said.

At around six in the morning on April 19, 2019, armed security forces officers in masks detained Uzhakhov at his home in the village of Barsuki in Ingushetia’s Nazran District. They took Uzhakhov to Nalchik, where he was placed in a temporary detention center. 

On April 20, the Nalchik City Court remanded him in custody for two months, until June 18. The same day, he was charged with violating Article 318 of the Russian Federal Criminal Code.

On June 6, the Nalchik City Court extended Uzhakhov’s arrest for three months and seven days, until September 25.

Uzhakhov’s lawyer appealed both extensions, but his appeals were turned down.

On June 20, Uzhakov was charged with another offense per Article 239.2 of the Russian Federal Criminal Code.

Before and after his arrest, Uzhakov was charged and convicted several times of administrative offenses for his involvement in “unauthorized” protest rallies. Kuriyev managed to have some of the fines for these convictions canceled.

On September 11, Kuriyev reported that Uzhakhov’s health had taken a turn for the worse. On September 13, he reported that his client had suffered two heart attacks in a week and needed medical treatment.

Memorial has recognized Uzhakhov and five other leaders of the Ingush protest movement as political prisoners. 

Translated by the Russian Reader

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