Week-ending 2 October 2020
Mashr is Ingushetia’s leading human rights organisation set up in April 2005 by relatives of those kidnapped or otherwise missing in Ingushetia. The organisation is one of the leading NGOs in the North Caucasus that monitors human rights abuses in the region. It is headed by lawyer and human rights activist Magomed Mutsolgov.
According to reports, the head of the Republic of Ingushetia is seeking to abolish the region’s Constitutional Court. Ruslan Mutsolgov, a lawyer working with Mashr, has said that he believes the attempt to abolish the court is a political step intended to weaken the judicial authorities in the republic. He believes such a development would increase corruption in the region.
On 30 September 2020, Caucasian Knot reported:
An attempt to abolish the Constitutional Court of Ingushetia is a political step that can lead to a favourable environment for corruption, the experts interviewed by the “Caucasian Knot” believe. The “Caucasian Knot” has reported that on September 22, the People’s Assembly of Ingushetia refused to consider the draft law on the abolition of the republic’s Constitutional Court proposed by the head of the republic, Makhmud-Ali Kalimatov. The Council of Teips (family clans) has recalled that the Constitutional Court of Ingushetia was the only authority that opposed the border agreement with Chechnya.
Ruslan Mutsolgov, a lawyer with the human rights organization “Mashr”, believes that the attempt to abolish the Constitutional Court is a political step. “After reading the bill, I was sure that the adoption thereof would create conditions for the weakening of the judicial branch of power and the final loss of control over the legislative and executive branches. And this environment is the most favourable for corruption manifestations,” Ruslan Mutsolgov has stated.
The leadership of Ingushetia intends to eliminate this court because they dislike some of its decisions, while there are no legal ground for such a step, Tamara Morschakova, a retired deputy of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, believes. “Leaders of some Russian regions, including the Republic of Ingushetia, don’t like some decisions of such courts. In Saint Petersburg, this court has already been removed, remade from a court into some kind of council; such court was created in Irkutsk and immediately disbanded. The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Ingushetia is also an internal controller on the issue of changing the borders of Ingush-Chechen border. The leadership wants to remove the Constitutional Court, having no legal basis for that,” Ms Morschakova has stated.
Mashr was set up in April 2005 by relatives of people who had been kidnapped or otherwise gone missing in Ingushetia. The organization is one of the leading NGOs in the North Caucasus that bravely monitors human rights abuses in the region. As RFE/RL, in November 2015 police searched the house of Magomed Mutsolgov. At the time of the search, computers and documents belonging to Mashr were confiscated on the grounds that they contained ‘secret data.’ Human Rights Watch condemned the allegations against Mutsolgov and his organization as ‘outrageous’ and said they were clearly aimed to ‘intimidate and demonize him in the public eye.’Human Rights Watch pointed out that Article 12 of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders stipulates that states shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection for human rights defenders against “any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary actions” related to their efforts to protect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms. On 8 December 2015 Rights in Russia reported that the Justice Ministry had added Mashr to the ‘foreign agent’ register.
On 20 February 2017, Magomed Mutsolgov, head of the Ingushetian human rights organization Mashr, appealed to the authorities to investigate threats allegedly made against him by a senior Ingush police officer, arrested on suspicion of abusing a detainee. Mutsolgov was acting in his capacity as a member of the region’s Public Oversight Commission when the threats were made, Caucasian Knot reports. Magomed Mutsolgov wrote in his blog on the Caucasian Knot website: “In all the years I have been carrying out public oversight in pre-trial detention facilities, this is the first instance when insults and threats have been made against a Public Oversight Commission.” Caucasian Knot reported that, according to Bagaudin Khadziev, deputy chair of the Public Oversight Commission, the police officer in question behaved aggressively, shouting at Magomed Mutsolgov and threatening him.
On 20 April 2017, the Justice Ministry removed Ingush human rights NGO Mashr from the register of ‘foreign agents’. Caucasian Knot reported that: “In his post ‘Russia’s MoJ: “Mashr” is not a “foreign agent”,’ Mr Mutsolgov has published a photo of the MoJ’s notification reading that the ‘Mashr’ was excluded from the register of ‘foreign agents’ “in accordance with sub-point two of point 7.1, Article 32, of the Federal Law ‘On NPOs’.” According to this point, an NPO is excluded from the register if ‘according to outcomes of a check it was established that the NPO has not received money and other property from foreign sources and (or) has not participated in political activities in the territory of the Russian Federation’.” On April 18, Magomed Mutsolgov noted in the above post that ‘the authorities have in fact recognized that the “Mashr” operates within the framework of the law’.”
‘”Mashr” excluded from list of “foreign agents”,’ Caucasian Knot, 20 April 2017
‘Prisoner of Ingush SIZO voices threats against POC members, Magomed Mutsolgov reports,’ Caucasian Knot, 20 February 2017
‘Муцольгов заявил об угрозах заключенного в ингушском СИЗО в адрес членов ОНК,’ Mashr, 20 February 2017
‘Russia Lists Ingush Rights Group As “Foreign Agent”,’ RFE/RL, 9 December 2015
‘Magomed Mutsolgov accused of “anti-Russian and subversive activities”,’ HRO.org, 7 November 2015
‘Russia: Officials Harassing Ingushetia Rights Defender,’ Human Rights Watch, 10 November 2015