This article is part of an ongoing series exploring the issues raised by Index on Censorship’s Monitoring and Advocating for Media Freedom project.
On 8 May 2019 the Belarussian authorities ordered the extra-judicial deportation of Russian blogger Ismail Nalgiev after his arrest in Minsk Airport. Nalgiev was preparing to travel to Prague, but was detained by border guards at the airport and told that he was on the Russian Federation’s wanted list.
Police released Nalgiev after three hours but officers from the Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption, as well as the Department of Citizenship and Migration of the Kastryčnicki district of Minsk, immediately re-arrested Nalgiev and took him to a detention centre in Minsk. Nalgiev’s lawyer was only permitted to meet with his client several hours later, in the late evening of 8 May. Nalgiev was charged with an administrative offence, but an administrative protocol on the reason for his detention was not filed.
It was expected that the Court of the Kastryčnicki district of Minsk would consider the charge on 10 May, but in the morning, it was announced that the expulsion had already been put in place. On 11 May, Nalgiev was taken to a prison in the city of Nalchik in the Russian Federation’s Republic of Kabardino-Balcaria. Nalgiev was banned from re-entering Belarus for 10 years and remains in prison in Nalchik.
Ismail Nalgiev is a blogger and human rights defender from the Republic of Ingushetia, Russian Federation. He is the co-ordinator of Choice of Ingushetia, which has been opposing a land-swap deal signed by the Ingush and Chechen leaders in September 2018. Since October 2018, protesters – Nalgiev among them – have opposed the land-swap on the basis that Ingushetia is giving Chechnya prime real estate in exchange for remote mountainous terrain. Ingushtians have been demanding the resignation of their leader, Minus Yevkurov.
On 27 March 2019 protests in the Ingush capital of Magas turned violent after police forcibly dispersed hundreds of protesters. Protesters are understood to have used chairs (brought on site for elderly protesters) to defend themselves but dozens of injuries were reported. A criminal case on the use of violence was subsequently opened.
It is now understood that Ismail Nalgiev was placed on the Ingushetia Ministry of Internal Affairs’ wanted persons list on 27 April, having been charged under Article 318(2) and Article 212(3) of the Criminal Code in relation to the protests. Nalgiev says that he was not made aware of this at the time.
On 8 May Nalgiev was convicted in absentia and sentenced to two months in prison. He began serving his sentence on 11 May. His lawyer is in the process of trying to appeal the sentence.