Armed Rebels Remain Moscow’s Biggest Problem in Ingushetia

Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 11 Issue: 58

(Source: Caucasian Knot)

The leadership of Ingushetia is being forced to follow the orders of Kremlin strategists, which define how the situation will evolve in this, the smallest republic in the Russian Federation. Arguably, the most important problem for Moscow in Ingushetia is the armed underground jamaat in the republic, where insurgency-related violence has claimed hundreds of victims over the past four years, putting Ingushetia fourth out of the seven republics of the North Caucasus in terms of casualties, behind Chechnya, Dagestan and Kabardino-Balkaria (http://www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/239812/). However, Ingushetia’s small population meant that the ratio of victims to population there was far higher than in the other republics. Moreover, the reprisals against those who were suspected of involvement in the armed resistance in Ingushetia were crueler than elsewhere in the region (http://ingushetia.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/239836/).

The methods of intimidating the rebels in Ingushetia include pressuring relatives and family members of the suspects. For example, on March 15, the house of Bagautdin Yevloev in the village of Sagopshi in Ingushetia’s Malgobek district was surrounded and blown up (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TDl5ajTTIw).

Yevloev had served in the Ministry of Interior for 33 years and was deputy chief of the Criminal Investigation Department when he left the service. However, his police veteran’s ID did not save the house of his son, who is suspected of ties to the leader of Ingushetia’s jamaat, Artur Getagazhev (a.k.a. Emir Abdula) (http://www.habar.org/?paged=3). The former police officer also was forced to make a statement that he had no complaints about the actions of those who had exploded his house (http://ingushetia.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/239794/).

That same day, a resident of the city of Malgobek, Bekhan Bayaliev, was arrested on suspicion of ties to the insurgency. The procedure of the arrest was typical for the Russian law enforcement agencies—there was a search, during which family members were prevented from entering one of the rooms, after which ammunition was “found” and one of the family members was arrested. Ingush rights activist Magomed Mutsolgov reported on this incident in his online blog (http://www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/blogs/342/posts/17424).

On March 22, two young people were killed in a special police operation in the village of Plievo in Ingushetia’s Nazran district. A law enforcement source said the two, Bashir Dishaev and Muslim Kuriev, were killed when the police tried to arrest them. According to the police, Dishaev detonated his own improvised explosive device (IED) and Kuriev was killed when he tried to resist the police (http://ingushetia.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/239871/). Neither of the slain individuals was on republican or national wanted lists (http://06.mvd.ru/dlya_grajdan/rozisk/podozrevaemie/letter/5).

The police first killed Kuriev. According to some eyewitness testimony, he was killed while in bed sleeping. Dishaev was killed in a house on the same street where Kuriev was killed (http://www.habar.org/?p=29351#more-29351).

Contrary to witness accounts, police websites reported that there was even an armed clash between the police and the suspects. Automatic rifles were found on the site of the clash. During a search, the police allegedly found three IEDs that could not be defused, so security service sappers had to detonate them. The combined power of the IEDs was around 30 kilograms of TNT, according to police (http://kavkazpress.ru/archives/43768). The house was destroyed by the explosion (http://kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2014/03/22/103670.shtml).

The account by the authorities does not look plausible. It is unclear, for example, why the police did not summon the suspects for interrogation. The two young people lived in the village and did not arouse any suspicions. The only suspicious behavior they displayed was that they both attended a mosque, especially for morning prayers. So, the Russian security services certainly had some doubts about these young men. Moreover, Dishaev was respected by the old men and they asked him to do azan (the Muslim call to prayer). These combined circumstances probably led to the tragedy for the two young people.

The authorities admitted that one of the servicemen involved in the operation was injured, but provided no details (http://newsru.com/russia/22mar2014/ingush.html). The republic’s official website (http://www.ingushetia.ru/m-news/archives/month_2014_03.shtml) does not provide even a hint about counter-terrorist operations. A visitor to the website would not even suspect that such events happen nearly every week. This deception in the virtual world of the Internet is designed to improve the image of the republic against the backdrop of the republican leadership’s inability to attract any tourists to the recently constructed resort in Armkhi (http://evkurov.livejournal.com/142873.html). However, it is unlikely potential tourists will make their decisions based on the official government websites, especially given the situation with the insurgents is so unpredictable.

Meanwhile, the website of the Ingush militants published a statement by the leadership of the republic’s jamaat recognizing Ali Abu Muhammad (Kebekov) as the new leader of the Caucasus Emirate and swearing allegiance to him (http://hunafa.com/?p=17132). The Kabardino-Balkarian jamaat did the same as well (http://www.islamdin.info/2014/03/blog-post_21.html). The Dagestani jamaats also recognized the new leader, but the Chechen jamaat has not done so officially yet, but certainly will do so. This will remove concerns about the Caucasus Emirate’s vertical and horizontal links. There is, however, another issue that is emerging and this is the Chechen jamaat is disappearing in Chechnya itself, and this may result in the disintegration of all structures of the armed resistance of the North Caucasus in the future.

The confrontation between the authorities in Ingushetia and the Ingush jamaat, which has been regrouping since last summer, remains dangerous. As of now, there is no reason to conclude that the situation has radically shifted in favor of the authorities, as happened in the past with the Karachay and the Nogai steppe jamaats.