Ingushetia Racked by Murders, Bombings and Shootings

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 29

Ten people were wounded at a cemetery in the Ingush village of Ordzhonikidzevskaya on July 18 when a bomb detonated during the funeral for Lyudmila Terekhina, a 55-year-old ethnic Russian teacher, and her son and daughter, both of them university students. The three were shot to death by unknown gunmen at their home in the village on July 16. ITAR-Tass reported on July 18 that one of those wounded in the funeral blast – Raisa Beruchevaya, a 52-year-old local teacher – had to have a leg amputated, while another victim of the blast, 44-year-old Aza Dalakova, had multiple shrapnel wounds in the face and damaged eyes. The blast was captured by a cameraman from the First Channel, one of Russia’s two state-controlled television channels, which was shooting footage for a feature on funerals.

Also on July 18, unknown gunmen fired automatic weapons at an automobile that was carrying members of the 58th army’s 503rd motorized infantry regiment, wounding one serviceman, Kavkazky Uzel reported. According to RIA Novosti, the attack on the vehicle took place in Karabulak, northeast of Nazran. This was not the first recent attack involving either the 503rd or Karabulak. The deputy head of Nazran’s Leninsky district administration was assassinated in Karabulak on July 3. In June, attackers fired rocket-propelled grenades at a special-purpose police base in Karabulak, wounding three officers (Chechnya Weekly, July 5 and June 21). The 503rd motorized rifle regiment’s base in the settlement of Troitskaya in Ingushetia’s Sunzha district was shelled by unknown gunmen using small arms and grenade launchers on July 6. No federal servicemen were hurt in that attack (Chechnya Weekly, July 12).

On July 16, unidentified attackers fired on several homes in Barsuki, which is the native village of Ingush President Murat Zyazikov. Interfax on July 17 quoted Ingush Interior Ministry spokesman Yakhya Khadziev as saying that the residential area and house where the Ingush president and his relatives reside had been fired on by a shoulder-held anti-tank grenade launcher. The news agency quoted a Nazran interior department source as saying that a house belonging to the head of the presidential security service had been hit but that no one was hurt in the attack. Kavkazky Uzel reported that the attackers had fired on the home of Uruskhan Zyazikov, the 72-year-old uncle of Ingush President Murat Zyazikov, who was reportedly kidnapped in Nazran on March 23 (Chechnya Weekly, March 29), and that the house is currently occupied by his son, who is the head of President Zyazikov’s bodyguard detail. Kommersant on July 18 identified the head of the Ingush presidential guard as Ruslanbek Zyazikov, and reported that the roof of his home was hit by one grenade, while another three detonated in the courtyard of a neighboring home, whose windows were shattered. According to Kommersant, Murat Zyazikov’s home, located between the two homes hit by grenades, was not hit. No one was hurt by any of the blasts.

A group of leading Ingush politicians and other public figures signed a statement condemning the murder of Lyudmila Terekhina and her children in Ordzhonikidzevskaya, calling it “the most inhuman and beastly terrorist act” and calling the bombing at her funeral “blasphemous and malicious in the extreme,” Kavkazky Uzel reported on July 18. The attacks were “active attempts” to destabilize the situation and split society in Ingushetia, the statement read. “Certain forces do not like the fact that our republic, having chosen the only correct path of creation, is developing dynamically, purposefully realizing a course aimed at socio-economic and political stability,” it read. The statement added that the attacks were aimed against “peace and stability” not only in Ingushetia, but in all of southern Russia, and charged that “extremists and terrorists” have taken aim at “stability in all of the North Caucasus” as their “vulnerable target.”

Similarly, Vasily Likhachev, who represents the parliament of Ingushetia in the Federation Council, told Interfax on July 18 that the “latest developments in the republic have shown the systemic nature of events” and that “Ingushetia has been chosen as a weak link in the system of security of the North Caucasus for aggressive and unconstitutional attacks.” According to the news agency, Likhachev claimed that the attacks in Ingushetia are being carried out by “the Wahhabi underground” as well as the “Wahhabi and terrorist center existing in the Middle and Near East,” but that terrorists who have “spilled over from Chechnya” may also have been responsible. He said that the murder of Lyudmila Terekhina and her children – who were ethnic Russians – and the bomb blast during their funeral were an attempt to demonstrate that the authorities in Ingushetia “are weak and not supported from the federal center.” President Zyazikov’s “humanitarian and positive plans” for “the return of the [ethnic] Russian population to Ingushetia may be threatened,” he said, adding that he thought the attacks were aimed at intimidating both the Russian-speaking population currently living in the republic and those Russian-speakers who would like to return to Ingushetia. “The goal of these attacks is to block social and economic reforms in the republic, which are having problems already because of a lack of organizational and financial resources,” Likhachev added.

Ingush Interior Mussa Medov also said he believed all of the attacks were linked, Kavkazky Uzel reported on July 18. “Certain destructive forces cannot resign themselves to the positive changes going on today in Ingusehtia, and are organizing such sorties aimed at both the power structures and the local population,” Medov told Interfax.

It should be noted, however, that some observers were less prepared to attribute all of the attacks to “extremists and terrorists.”

The independent website on July 17 posted an item headlined: “The nocturnal shelling in Barsuki – staged by Murat Zyazikov?” The website said that “a certain part” of Ingush society believes the shelling in Barsuki was staged by the Ingush president “to prove to the Kremlin how ‘difficult it is for him to rule in Ingushetia,’ that he is ‘risking his life’ and so on,” and thereby “distract away from himself the attention of the federal bodies, which are shocked by the scope of corruption and theft in Ingushetia, and also to raise his authority.” That view is held by Musa Ozdoev, the former Ingush People’s Assembly deputy who is a leading opponent of Zyazikov and who has called the Ingush president “a master of political provocations,” wrote. “Ozdoev is certain that the shooting of the family in Ordzhonikidzevskaya, the tension in the Prigorodny district and other notorious crimes and processes in the region are very advantageous to Zyazikov, who is resolving his material issues [that are] in no way connected to the interests of the people of Ingushetia,” the website wrote.

Meanwhile, Kommersant on July 18 quoted an anonymous source in Ingushetia’s law-enforcement bodies as suggesting that the shelling of the home of Ingush presidential guard chief Ruslanbek Zyazikov in Barsuki was not carried out by militants, but rather by someone among his many personal enemies, who include “many influential people in the republic.” Ruslan Zyazikov “runs all affairs,” the source said, adding that “only through him do appointments to influential and lucrative positions take place.”