Ingush Opposition Leaders Demand Aushev’s Return

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 9 Issue: 27

The campaign to gather signatures on a petition calling for the return of Ruslan Aushev as Ingushetia’s president has been completed. According to the opposition website, leaders of the opposition to Ingushestia’s current president, Murat Zyazikov, said during a press conference in Moscow on July 10 that a total of 105,000 signatures had been gathered, out of which 80,000 had been forwarded to the federal authorities in Moscow. According to the opposition leaders, an additional 25,000 signatures were seized by members of the anti-organized crime directorate (UBOP) of Ingushetia’s Interior Ministry during a raid.

Among the Ingush opposition leaders who participated in the Moscow press conference were Magomed Khazbiev, head of the organizing committee of the Ingush national protest movement; Kaloi Akhilgov, an Ingush youth leader; and Kheda Saratova, an independent journalist.

Next week, the 80,000 signatures will be forwarded to President Dmitry Medevedev along with an appeal in the name of the people of Ingushetia demanding that Zyazikov be removed from office, held accountable for the situation in the republic and replaced by Aushev. “In the event that the federal authorities do not name Aushev to the post of head of Ingushetia, we will protest and organize a large-scale demonstration,” the Novyi Region website quoted Khazbiev as saying. He added that Aushev has agreed, in absentia, to head the republic. “I suggested to Ruslan Aushev to come to Ingushetia and organize a demonstration there,” Khazbiev said. “He answered: ‘I cannot do that; a revolution will begin [and] young guys will suffer.’ However, at the same time, Aushev noted that he is always with his people and if the people decide he should be president, then so it will be.”

Khazbiev also said that leaders of the Ingush diaspora in Moscow not long ago visited the Kremlin and demanded that one of them be named to replace Zyazikov as head of the republic, insisting that they could correct the situation in the republic. “But if they come to power, nothing will change,” Khazbiev said. “Therefore we decided to organize an action in support of Ruslan Aushev. The people are certain that with his return changes will really take place in the republic. Only he can save the republic from war. He is a person of honor and his word.” Khazbiev emphasized that he and his fellow opposition leaders are not asking the federal authorities for funds to improve the situation in the republic, but simply for Ruslan Aushev’s appointment as head of Ingushetia.

According to the Ingush protest leaders, disorder is now taking place every day in Ingushetia, including disappearances, murders and kidnappings. “During the past month, murders of both members of the law-enforcement organs and civilians have begun to take place daily,” said Khazbiev. “The current president of Ingushetia Murat Zyazikov and his entourage have brought the republic to this state.” Khazbiev added that a turning point has been reached and that if the situation does not change, a full-scale war will break out. “From 2002 to 2007, 158 people disappeared without a trace and more than 700 people were murdered in the republic,” he said. “If a war breaks out, it will also affect Kabardino-Balkaria and spread to the entire Caucasus. A new Caucasus war will begin.”