Ingush in 2010: The Insurgency Remains a Potent Force

Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 8 Issue: 20

According to independent sources, who summarized their findings based on reports that have been officially published in the media by Russian authorities, Ingushetia had the second largest number of victims of violence in the North Caucasus in 2010, an unfortunate outcome similar to what happened in 2009. Of the 1,710 people killed and injured in the entire North Caucasus, Ingushetia had 326 casualties, of which 134 were killed and 192 wounded (http://ingushetia.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/179693/). However, the losses suffered by the Ingush rebels were more significant in comparison with 2009, given the death of such prominent militant leaders as Said Buryatsky (aka Alexander Tikhomirov), one of the chief ideologues of the North Caucasus militant movement, who was killed on March 2 in the Ingush village of Ekazhevo. The arrest of one of the founders of the Ingush Jamaat, Amir Magas (aka Akhmed Taziev-Yevloev) last June following the death of Buryatsky dramatically altered the general trend of events in this small North Caucasus republic. This gave cause to the Ingush leadership, represented by the Russian-appointed President, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, to claim that the situation did not change in favor of the insurgents (http://ingushetiyaru.org/news/21935.html).

Indeed, there had been a noticeable absence of a leader in the Ingush Jamaat almost until the fall of 2010. As a result, the fervor of the jamaat’s activities weakened and, in sharp contrast with previous years when armed attacks had been perpetrated almost daily, Ingush militants began to behave more timidly and struck less frequently throughout most of 2010. According to officials in Ingushetia, “the number of crimes related to assaults on law enforcement agents declined by 37 percent compared to 2009” and “preventive measures yielded a 14.6 percent reduction in the numbers of terrorism-related crimes” (http://ingushetiyaru.org/news/21935.html), which indicates that Russian intelligence services inflicted severe damage on the Ingush branch of the armed militant movement. Moreover, the fate and whereabouts of Emir Adam, Emir Magas’s successor as the leader of the Ingush Jamaat, remains obscure to this day (www.razma.ru/novosti/detail.php?ID=2888).

The Russians claim they have captured Emir Adam alive. Russian intelligence reports that somebody named Isa Khashegulgov now in Russian custody is Emir Adam, but this has been neither confirmed nor denied by the jamaat. If Khashegulgov is indeed the man who succeeded Emir Magas, then the situation looks even more dire for the local insurgents.

In 2010, two suicide bombings took place in Ingushetia, 28 attacks were prevented there and a total of 103 clashes were reported between security forces and insurgents, in which 63 militants were liquidated and 28 arrested. The local interior ministry claims 42 militants were captured. On the Russian law enforcement side (called siloviki), 32 officers were killed and 133 injured (www.regnum.ru/news/kavkaz/ingush/1365002.html). However, casualties were reported not only among the rebel fighters and the Russian security forces; there were also victims among the civilian population, with 40 people killed and 59 wounded. If Yunus-Bek Yevkurov’s words are credible, 48 former militants rejoined normal civilian life over the past year. It is strange, however, that this accomplishment was not made public before the media summed up the results for 2010. According to Nikolai Rogozhkin, Deputy Russian Interior Minister and commander of Russian Internal Troops, 500 to 800 rebels remain at-large all across the North Caucasus, a seemingly groundless number the Russian generals come up with year after year, and thus an admission of failure in pacifying the region. The Russians fought against 800 militants in 2002, and they continue to do so today.

Kidnapping remains an acute problem in Ingushetia, while around 20 people were abducted in 2010. The situation looks so bleak that there was a suggestion to discuss the issue within the framework of a special commission of the European Parliament (www.caucasustimes.com/article.asp?id=20711).

For instance, relatives of Zalina Yelkharoeva, who was kidnapped on December 22, 2010, have thus far been unable to find out where she is being held. Her disappearance might be related to the arrest of her brother, Timur Yelkharoev, who is accused of having a connection with insurgents and remains in a pretrial detention center in the city of Vladikavkaz in North Ossetia (http://ingushetiyaru.org/news/21924.html). On December 30, three young residents of Ingushetia, the two Pliev brothers and Adam Khamkhoev, were arrested and later released after being beaten and tortured (http://ingushetiyaru.org/news/21901.html).

It is worth noting that despite all governmental measures, the Ingush Jamaat continues to be operational, and maintains a fairly high level of combat capability; albeit its activities are less intense than in previous years. Rebel strikes at the beginning of 2011 show clear evidence to that. There was yet another shooting at Orthodox church in the village of Ordzhonikidzevskaya on January 2, the third such attack in two years, despite the fact that, according to the polls, the residents of Ingushetia are more tolerant of Christians than those in neighboring Muslim republics (www.caucasustimes.com/article.asp?language=2&id=20211).

On January 5, police officers were attacked in the same village. Security forces were bombed near the administrative border between Ingushetia and North Ossetia on the morning of January 13. A Federal Security Service (FSB) officer was injured in that attack. On January 17, the house of Ingushetia’s minister of labor and social development was fired on. On January 23, there was an explosion in the marketplace of the Ingush city of Nazran. In addition there have been frequent shootings at shops selling alcohol and cigarettes. All in all, militants have already perpetrated dozens of attacks in Ingushetia in just the first three weeks of 2011.

The claim by some Russian officials that militant activities are a direct consequence of the depressed state of the economy in the region does not correspond to the reality (www.rosbalt.ru/2011/01/19/810043.html). The North Caucasus is no worse off economically than many other regions and territories of the Russian Federation. In Russian regions where the situation is approximately the same as in Ingushetia, the deteriorating economic conditions have not resulted in the appearance of jamaats or underground armed insurgent movements.

Nevertheless, the authorities do not want to admit that the main, and so far the only, reason why young men in the North Caucasus choose to join the insurgency is not the unemployment rate but the inability of the Russian government to counter the militants with a viable ideology capable of changing the situation to the advantage of  Moscow. Today, young people join the rebels because of their unwillingness to be part of a state that considers them second-class citizens. All of this is happening against the backdrop of growing anti-Caucasus sentiment among Russians, who blame the natives of the North Caucasus for all troubles in their motherland. The image of a fictitious “Jewish enemy” in the old Soviet Union has been reincarnated in modern Russia as the image of the “Caucasus enemy.”

The central Russian government and their emissaries to the region fail to offer anything decent to the local residents, who do not understand their role in a country in which their rights are ignored and their desire to live in liberty is continuously suppressed with tanks, airplanes, and the FSB’s punitive measures against the North Caucasus youth.