Publication: Monitor Volume: 8 Issue: 15

Ingushetia’s former president, Ruslan Aushev, long considered one of Russia’s most powerful regional leaders, has left his post for good and does not plan to return to it. He has no plans, however, to leave high politics altogether. On January 16, the Federation Council accepted Aushev as one of its members: He is to represent Ingushetia’s executive branch in the upper house of the Russian parliament (Russian agencies, January 16).

Aushev’s resignation as president came as a complete surprise both at national and regional levels (see the Monitor, January 8). The next election for the republic’s president was not officially scheduled to take place until March 2003, the same day as the next elections for Ingushetia’s parliament. Aushev announced that it was necessary to hold the two elections on different days. On his initiative, the republic parliament shortened his term by a year and set the next presidential election for March 2002. When Ingushetia’s Supreme Court refused to acknowledge Aushev’s resignation, observers speculated that the outgoing president was playing some kind of political game. But Aushev demonstrated that his mind was made up by accepting an invitation to become one of Ingushetia’s two representatives in the Federation Council. On the morning of January 10 the head of Ingushetia’s government, Akhmed Malsagov, signed a decree authorizing Aushev’s appointment and took over himself as acting president. Ingushetia’s parliament confirmed the decree later the same day. This means that Aushev–having been a member of the Federation Council since 1993 (initially on being elected to it, and from 1995 forward thanks to his being president)–rejoined the Russian parliament after an absence of only two weeks (Kommersant, January 11).

On January 8, Ingushetia’s parliament ruled that the election for Aushev’s successor would be held in April (, January 8). Aleksandr Veshnyakov, head of Russia’s Central Election Commission, welcomed the decision. It corresponded, he said, to both federal and local law (, January 10). Eight candidates have already announced their intentions of running, Malsagov among them (, January 19). Russian law prevents Aushev from participating. As for the outgoing president’s reasons for stepping down, they remain a mystery.