Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 42

Ruslan Aushev has been reelected to a second term as president of Ingushetia. Voter turnout was over 90 percent. According to preliminary figures, Aushev garnered 66.5 percent of the vote. Issa Kostoev — who heads the International Law Department of the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office in Moscow — gathered 13 percent. Mukharbek Aushev, a deputy to the Russian State Duma, came in third, with 9 percent. None of the other six candidates got more than 4 percent. (NTV, RTR, ORT, March 2)

Aushev is undoubtedly the most popular figure in the republic. There is therefore no reason to suspect the Ingush authorities of falsifying the vote totals. This impressive first-round victory, however, can hardly be explained by the Ingush leader’s personal authority alone. During the 1996 presidential elections (that is, while the war in Chechnya was still going on), the Ingush people, who are closely related to the Chechens, supported Boris Yeltsin. In large part, the results of both elections can be explained by the fact that there is simply no opposition in the republic. The republic’s autocratic form of government is predetermined by a whole series of circumstances: the absence of democratic traditions, the republic’s small (about 200,000 people) and predominantly rural population. This helps explain why Aushev’s two main rivals in the elections, who have criticized him on numerous occasions, both live in Moscow.

Exit Serov, Enter Rybkin.