7 November 2015
Source: HRO.org (info)
At around 7 in the morning on 6 November 2015, several dozen law-enforcement officials arrived in three Gazel minibuses, an armoured UAZ military vehicle and a Lada Priora car at the offices of the human rights organisation Mashr in Karabulak (Republic of Ingushetia).
The gate into the courtyard was opened for them by Magomed Mutsolgov, head of Mashr, who lives in the building with his family.
The law enforcement agents – some of whom wore masks – said they belonged to the Ministry of Interior department for the North Caucasus Federal District.
The group was headed by police major A.T. Sottaev.
Mutsolgov was handed a ruling of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Ingushetia dated 20 October 2015 authorising “investigative activities” at the address in question: an investigation (inspection) of the premises, building, facilities, grounds and vehicles.
The police brought two witnesses – members of the armed forces – along with them.
The ruling furthermore stated that the investigation (inspection) would be carried out on the basis of information to the effect that:
"Magomed Mutsolgov acts as a link for NGOs based in Georgia, several European countries and the US which harbour anti-Russian sentiments, and works in the interests of and on the instructions of foreign NGOs. In order to promote subversive activities on the territory of the Russian Federation, Magomed Mutsolgov engages in activities aimed at inciting inter-religious conflicts within the North Caucasian Federal District. Mutsolgov is involved in carrying out various extremist projects disseminated by him in the regions of the North Caucasian Federal District which have a propagandistic, anti-Russian character and foster negative public attitudes towards the actions of the Russian authorities in relation to Ukraine, Georgia and Syria. Mutsolgov uses various Internet-based media outlets and social networks to carry out his subversive activities within the regions of the North Caucasian Federal District, and also organises various seminars, training courses and forums. Mutsolgov acts extremely secretively, and painstakingly disguises his extremist leanings. He only ever uses verified channels of communication with trusted parties. He produces and keeps stocks of various extremist materials aimed at inciting inter-ethnic enmity and other articles which may not be disseminated freely on the territory of the Russian Federation."
The officials inspected all of the premises before starting their search, including the courtyard and the cars parked there. They then searched the house where Magomed Mutsolgov lives with his family. They took nothing from the house. The officials conducted themselves properly and talked in Russian, some with a Caucasian accent.
While this was happening, Ruslan Mutsolgov (Magomed’s brother) arrived at the offices of Mashr and showed the police officers around.
Having ascertained that there was no threat to their safety, the police searched the offices and removed all the documentation they found (reports by Mashr and other NGOs, files with incoming and outgoing documents, accounts, accounts, business cards etc.), as well as computers, cameras, video cameras and mobile telephones.
Staff of the organisation, family members and lawyers were not allowed into the courtyard giving access to the offices and Mutsolgov’s family home while the search was going on.
Upon completion of the search at 1.30 p.m., the police officers handed over a protocol of the investigation (inspection) which listed all the documents, office equipment and other items removed.
As he left, police major A.T. Sottaev, who was in charge of the operation, told Magomed Mutsolgov that he would have to travel to Vladikavkaz (Republic of Northern Ossetia-Alania) to collect the documents and other items which had been removed, and that he would be notified by telephone at a later point of the date when he should do so.
Aleksandr Cherkasov, chair of the board of the Memorial Human Rights Centre (Moscow), has issued the following statement on the case:
"The very language of the ruling and the non-legal lexicon with which it is full, is astonishing and deeply reminiscent of Soviet times. What on earth do they mean by ‘destructive opinions’? Allegations such as ‘Mutsolgov acts extremely secretively, and painstakingly disguises his extremist leanings’ are a clear sign that there is no crime that can be pinned on Magomed. Yet there is every possibility that this quasi-legal clap-trap will result in a real-life criminal case on the grounds of ‘treachery’, a fate suffered by Professor Mikhail Savva, also in the Caucasus. The Stalin-era terminology of the ‘law’ on ‘foreign agents’ is now being used to fabricate all-too-real criminal cases. The work of Magomed Mutsolgov and the NGO Mashr over many years has gained a well-deserved authority and respect. Russian NGOs and the international human rights community should not underestimate the gravity of this case and should come to their defence.”
Translated by Joanne Reynolds
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