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Freedom for Martin Kochesoko!

Gündem 13 Haziran 2019
262

We, journalists, academic historians, anthropologists and political scientists who study and write about the past and present of the Caucasus, Russia and post-Soviet space, demand the immediate release of the Circassian journalist and activist, chairman of the public organization “Khabze” Martin Kochesoko.

Precisely the same criminal case is being fabricated against this Circassian activist as was fabricated against Medusa correspondent Ivan Golunov. Law enforcement agencies are accusing Kochesok of drug possession.
At the same time, according to our information, Martin Kochesoko is being persecuted for political reasons. In particular, after a round table was held in Nalchik on May 17 about the problems of federalism in Russia, a man from the local administration came to Kochesoko’s parents and warned that Martin would have problems if he did not “curtail his activities.”

On May 21, the organization Khabze, headed by Kochesoko, was one of the organizers of events dedicated to the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Caucasian War. And on May 24-25, Kochesoko participated in the Democratic Congress of the Peoples of Russia conference held in Moscow, where the issue of the degradation of federalism in the Russian state was again discussed.

On June 7, Martina Kochesoko was detained by police and a search was conducted at the office of the NGO Khabze.

We are well aware of how criminal cases for drug possession are fabricated by stories from Chechnya, where article 228 of the Criminal Code, notorious in Russia, was condemned by journalist Zhalaudi Geriyev and human rights activist Oyub Titiyev. Geriev spent three years in a penal colony and was freed on April 30, 2019. In March 2018, Titiyev was sentenced to four years in a penal colony.

It is worth emphasizing that Kochesoko’s detention took place against the background of the high-profile case of journalist Ivan Golunov. Because of the powerful resonance this case has had with the public, along with protests from the journalistic community, the Minister of the Interior of the Russian Federation announced that the charges against Golunov had been dropped and in fact admitted that the case was falsified.

We fear that this small victory for civil society may play a cruel joke on the fate of Martin Kochesoko, who today runs the risk of being left alone with an angry law enforcement system.

We demand the immediate release of Martin Kochesoko.

We ask colleagues from Russia to closely follow the Kochesoko case and give it the informational support it deserves. We demand that Russian law enforcement agencies abandon the vicious practice of fabricating criminal cases against civil activists and dissidents. We urge the Russian authorities to ensure the functioning of the Constitution of the Russian Federation throughout the country, including in the North Caucasus.

Freedom for Martin Kochesoko!

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