Commentators See Ingushetia as a “Failed State” Where an Uprising Could Occur…

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 34

The incident in Karabulak “might have ended in a shootout” between local law-enforcers and the FSB commandos who killed Apti Dolakov and detained Iles Dolgiev “had Ingush Interior Minister Musa Medov not ordered that the killers be released,” wrote commentator Yulia Latynina in a column published in the Moscow Times on September 5. “Later, the local prosecutor explained that the shooting had been the ‘liquidation of an insurgent.’ This kind of ‘liquidation’ has become infamous of late. In Ingushetia in early August, insurgents were blamed for the shooting deaths of ethnic Russian schoolteacher Lyudmila Terekhina and her daughter. The case was solved and the two murderers apprehended almost overnight. They were federal contract soldiers, one Russian and the other Ossetian, who had visited Terekhina’s daughter on the eve of the murder. A witness identified the assailants by their voices. The local police official who ordered the soldiers’ arrest was then shot dead on August 11. No doubt, some of the people killed by federal troops were insurgents. But in the case of Terekhina’s killers, it is not as easy to tell.”

According to Latynina, the situation in Ingushetia “worsened dramatically” in March following the abduction of Uruskhan Zyazikov, an uncle of Ingush President Murat Zyazikov and the father of his personal security chief (Chechnya Weekly, March 29). “This prompted the authorities to loose a wave of terror on their own citizens, which was met with terror as a response,” Latynina wrote. “As early as June, it was clear that the region was moving toward a catastrophe. That was when villagers in Surkhakhi used force to free a fellow villager being held by federal troops. (By this point, federal troops were already moving around the republic in groups of no fewer than three armored personnel carriers and had so thoroughly entrenched themselves in the villages that they had even put up outhouses in the cemeteries.) It had also become clear that Zyazikov had lost control of both the general population and the local elites: In a secret ballot, a majority of United Russia members voted to dump him as party head in Ingushetia.”

Latynina concluded that an “uprising” is possible in Ingushetia. “It is one thing when villagers take on heavily armed federal soldiers to free a compatriot – and that particular village has a reputation for militancy – but altogether another when federal soldiers are prepared to shoot local police,” she wrote. “The next step could well be an uprising, with not much needed to touch it off. In a republic as small as Ingushetia, the insurgents would not be likely to come out as winners. Regardless of the winner, rivers of blood would likely flow before it was over.”

Kavkazky Uzel on September 1 quoted Sergei Markedonov, head of the International Relations department at the Institute for Political and Military Analysis, as telling Radio Liberty that Ingushetia has become a kind of mini “failed state,” and that the situation in the republic is the result of the collapse of state power. “It is necessary to talk not about the collapse of state power at the regional level, although the regional government is also making quite a few mistakes,” he said. “It is more the collapse of overall federal policy, because Ingushetia is not an object of serious concern on the part of the federal center. Many problems that have accumulated during the whole post-Soviet period, since the moment of Ingushetia’s formation, are not being solved … It is the problem of those who have been forcibly relocated from the Prigorodny district [of North Ossetia]…It is the problem of the relationship between the various currents of Islam: many people are opposing the Spiritual Board of Muslims [of Ingushetia], declaring themselves Wahhabis without any kind of serious critique. It is the relationship with North Ossetia in general, and the relationship with Chechnya. And it is the issue of returning the Russian population to the republic and the problem of the small number of Russians who remain there.”

Markedonov added: “All of these problems are not being solved; they are not being viewed conceptually. Unfortunately, all of the actions of the authorities, above all the federal ones, are built on the reaction principle. There is a terrorist act, an attack has taken place, and measures of the military-police kind are taken belatedly. Take the most recent measures – the introduction of an additional contingent of troops on Ingushetia’s territory. But the problem isn’t one of introducing troops. I was in Ingushetia; I mixed with the servicemen who are serving with the regiment in Troitskoye. The soldiers are in a ghetto-like situation. It is necessary to foster respect for the person in uniform, to foster in Ingushetia an understanding that it is part of Russia.”