Ingush President Makes Opposition Lawyer His Adviser

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 9 Issue: 47

Ingush President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov this week appointed Musa Pliyev, the lawyer for the family of the slain opposition website founder, Magomed Yevloyev, as an adviser on law-enforcement issues. Pliyev told the Moscow Times that Yevkurov signed the decree appointing him to the position on December 7, and Yevkurov’s press service confirmed the appointment to Interfax the following day. As the English-language newspaper noted, soon after he was named to replace Murat Zyazikov as Ingushetia’s president, Yevkurov named a leading opposition figure, Magomed-Sali Aushev, to be a deputy prime minister in the republican government. He also named figures said to be close to former Ingush President Ruslan Aushev to key positions in the new republican government (North Caucasus Weekly, November 24).

The Moscow Times on December 9 quoted political analysts as saying that the appointments show Yevkurov is attempting to stabilize the violence-plagued republic by balancing competing clans. It also quoted analysts as saying the appointment of opposition figures also shows the Ingush president is trying to distance himself from the highly unpopular former president, Murat Zyazikov. “At the very least, the Ingush opposition that was very active in the Russian media will not consider Yevkurov a clear enemy,” said Nikolai Silayev, a researcher at the Center for Caucasus Studies with the Moscow State Institute of Foreign Relations. The Moscow Times also quoted Silayev as saying he doubted Pliyev would hold much sway with law-enforcement authorities, but that he could become an alternative channel of information for Yevkurov about what is going in Ingush society.

In addition, Yevkurov told a meeting of veterans and former Interior Ministry employees on December 7 that a certification of the republican Interior Ministry’s staff will be carried out in the near future. Itar-Tass quoted him as saying that the republic’s inhabitants must trust the police, and thus the police force must have “honest” and “decent” employees. Yevkurov said it is also necessary to increase the number of policemen in the republic while updating their vehicle fleet and weaponry. He also noted that there are a large number of people in Ingushetia who were removed from the police force for various reasons and that a telephone hotline will be opened for such people and a commission will be set up to deal with each of their cases. Yevkurov said that district police have a key role in guaranteeing law and order in the republic. “Close cooperation between the district police and the population is needed, as is close cooperation between the clergy and the population,” he said.

Meanwhile, a Nazran court on December 10 rejected a request by Magomed Yevloyev’s family to reclassify his death in police custody on August 31 as a murder, RIA Novosti reported. The police claimed that Yevloyev’s shooting death was the result of a police officer’s gun that had accidentally gone off. Yevloyev’s family and allies, however, insist he was killed deliberately and accuse Zyazikov and other ex-officials, including former Ingush Interior Minister Musa Medov, of being behind the killing.

Musa Pliyev called the December 10 ruling “unlawful” and claimed the judge had “been under pressure and made the decision directed by her own thoughts not by the law.” He also said the ruling would be appealed to Ingushetia’s Supreme Court.

At the same time, the new Ingush president’s overtures to the opposition thus far seem to have done little to tamp down the republic’s armed Islamic underground. A police officer was wounded while pursuing militants on the outskirts of the village of Sredniye Achaluki in Ingushetia’s Malgobek district on December 9. A spokesperson for the Investigative Committee of the Prosecutor-General’s Office branch in Ingushetia told Interfax that the police were pursuing gunmen who had fired on a police post and had chased four persons in a suspicious car who dumped the vehicle on the outskirts of the village, opened fire on their pursuers, wounding one policeman, and escaped.  

In other incidents on December 9, a checkpoint manned by members of the road patrol service and police force on the outskirts of the village of Zyazikov-Yurt in Ingushetia’s Malgobeksky district came under small-arms fire but no one was hurt in the attack, Itar-Tass reported. A serviceman was wounded when unidentified attackers fired on servicemen outside the base of the 503rd Motor-Rifle Regiment in the village of Troitskaya in Ingushetia’s Sunzhensky district. In other attacks on December 9, Interfax reported that a warrant officer was wounded by unidentified gunmen in the village of Ordzhonikidzevskaya, also in Ingushetia’s Sunzhensky district, while unidentified attackers shot and wounded a policeman and a local resident outside the Nazran city police department.

On December 6, two militants were killed in Nazran in a gun battle with police after they were cornered in a house, the Associated Press reported, citing the Ingush Interior Ministry. The ministry told the news agency that attackers fired on investigators combing the site after the shooting, wounding two officers and three people in the crowd watching the event. The ministry also said attackers opened fire on a military post in the village of Troitskaya, but reported no injuries in the 10-minute exchange of fire.

On December 4, unidentified gunmen shot and killed a former police officer, Timur Magushkov, in Nazran, Interfax reported. The previous day—December 3—the Caucasus Times quoted a source in the Ingush branch of the Federal Security Service (FSB) as saying that two residents of the republic’s Sunzha district had been detained and a large arsenal had been seized from them. The weapons taken from them included more than a dozen rocket-propelled and anti-tank grenades and launchers and more than 1,300 7.62 mm cartridges.

Also on December 4, a bomb went off in the basement of a slot machine parlor in Nazran, seriously damaging the building. No one was hurt in the blast.