Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 7 Issue: 24

Commenting on the violence in Ingushetia, Aleksandr Cherkasov of the Memorial human rights group wrote in an item posted on, the website of Yezhednevny zhurnal, on June 12 that the nearly simultaneous murders of Musa Nalgiev and Galina Gubina were neither coincidental nor unexpected. “The continued armed conflict in the North Caucasus is acquiring a different hue in Ingushetia — [it is] not only ‘the underground against the siloviki,’ but ‘[the underground] against outsiders’,” Cherkasov wrote. “The previous attack on a high-ranking silovik, the republican deputy interior minister, was reported on the news. No attention was paid to attacks on Russian families, which this winter and spring became almost systematic.”

Cherkasov detailed a number of attacks on ethnic Russians in Ingushetia, including involving the tossing of Molotov cocktails and explosives into the homes of families in the villages of Ordzhonikidzevskaya, Nesterovskaya, and Troitskaya during January-March of this year. “It is obvious that the murder of Galina Gubina is part of systematic pressure on the non-Vainakh [non-Chechen or Ingush] population of the republic,” Cherkasov wrote. “Also obvious is the general hardening of the local underground, which you now cannot call anything other than terrorist. They killed police before, but, after all, they shot Nalgiev with his family. When they blew up Deputy [Ingushetian] Interior Minister Kostoev, another six people were killed along with him — a real terrorist act.”

The murder of Musa Nalgiev and his family was intended to “decapitate and demoralize the Ingush OMON, leaving the federal forces without a key ally,” Vadim Rechkalov wrote in Moskovsky komsomolets on June 14. “The Ingush OMON is the republic’s key power structure. Neither the federal troops nor the combined mobile unit of [police investigators] gathered from across Russia nor the [Ingushetian] FSB are in a position to fight the terrorist underground without active help from the local ethnic fighting units. Without the local law-enforcers, not one of the assigned Russian counter-intelligence officers or police investigators can set up a full-fledged network of informants. Without the help of the Vainakhs, any counter-terrorist operation on the territory of Chechnya and Ingushetia is a profanation and fakery. In killing Lieutenant Colonel Nalgiev, the terrorists were sending the local OMON a completely clear message: he who cooperates with the federal center will be mercilessly destroyed along with his family. Including young children. Together in the car with Nalgiev were three of his children aged 2 to 6, who he was taking to kindergarten. After the lieutenant colonel was murdered, a killer opened the back door of the car and pumped one magazine into the children. All of this took place in the presence of Nalgiev’s wife and older son. The innocent children were probably deliberately targeted. There are enough brave officers in Ingushetia ready to risk their own lives to fill the position of the murdered OMON commander. [But] now that position requires a superman who, for the sake of [law and] order, is ready to give up not only his life, but his kin. Or the new commander will not fulfill his duties with zeal. And no one will blame him for this.”

Rechkalov noted that the gunmen who killed Galina Gubina — an ethnic Russian who was involved in returning ethnic Russians to Ingushetia — spared her Ingush driver. “The second message of the terrorists: there is no place for Russians in Ingushetia,” he wrote. “It is doubtful anyone from among the Russian residents of Ingushetia will have the courage to take Galina Gubina’s place. And all the families that she returned now feel like hostages. It is significant that the killers did not shoot Galina Gubina’s Ingush driver, thereby clearly showing who, in this case, was their real target. Russians and only Russians.”

According to Rechkalov, Ingushetia is now caught between the rebel forces and those of Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov, who recently said that Chechen security forces should have the right to conduct raids into neighboring republics, and whose ally, Chechen People’s Assembly Speaker Dukvakha Abdurakhmaov, has on several recent occasions called for Chechnya’s merger with Ingushetia (Chechnya Weekly, April 27). Noting that Chechen President Alu Alkhanov, on the day of the murders of Musa Nalgiev and Galina Gubina, told the Ingushetian authorities that Chechnya was prepared “to render any support to our neighbors and brothers in finding the criminals involved in this outrage,” Rechkalov wrote: “In fact, the sympathetic offers of ‘fraternal assistance’ by Ramzan Kadyrov and Alu Alkhanov have but one aim: the domination of Chechen power structures on the territory of neighboring Ingushetia. So that not a single Ingush policeman would feel like a full-fledged member of the law-enforcement organs of the republic, but [instead] would [be slaves to] the special Chechen units. If Ramzan Kadyrov’s proposals are accepted at the federal level, then the Republic of Ingushetia will in reality cease to exist as a [Russian] Federation subject. Ingush President [Murat] Zyazikov will become a strictly nominal figure because ‘his’ siloviki will be made subordinate to the siloviki of Ramzan Kadyrov.”

Citing reporting by the Memorial human rights group, Rechkalov noted that when Chechen security forces chased suspected rebels into the Ingushetian village of Nesterovskaya on May 31, one of the alleged rebels killed in the ensuing shoot-out, Rizvan Khaikaroev, was in fact the 19-year-old son of well-known rebel field commander Ruslan Khaikaroev, but not himself a rebel fighter, and “was simply executed by Chechen police after the battle.” Ruslan Khaikaroev was reportedly killed back in 1999 (Chechnya Weekly, June 1).

Interestingly, the independent website on June 9, the day of the murders of Musa Nalgiev and his children and Galina Gubina, quoted an official from the Ingush mufti’s office who raised doubts about whether the rebel underground was responsible — or, at any rate, solely responsible — for the killings. “The killing of children is not typical of the Vainakhs,” the unnamed official told the website. “The Ingush and the Chechens have never killed children. Special services could have been involved in that. They could have used the worsening situation in Ingushetia to bring in troops [to Ingushetia] and then raise the issue of merging Ingushetia with Chechnya.”

Meanwhile, Kavkazky Uzel reported on June 13 that rumors were circulating around Ingushetia that a mass grave had been discovered in the village of Veseloe in neighboring North Ossetia’s Mozdoksky district, where the body of a kidnapped resident of Ingushetia, Uvais Dolakov, was recently found. The website quoted the head of the Ingush human rights organization MARSH, Magomed Mutsolgov, as saying that over the previous several days, more than 20 relatives of missing residents of Ingushetia had asked the organization for help in finding information about them and even suggested going to the site of the alleged mass grave in North Ossetia. “I explained to them that under no circumstances should this be done, because it can be fraught with consequences,” Mutsolgov told Kavkazky Uzel. He said that on June 9 he had officially asked the Ingushetian prosecutor’s office to look into the reports of a mass grave in North Ossetia.

According to Mutsolgov, more than 150 people have disappeared without a trace in Ingushetia in recent years and their fate and whereabouts remain unknown. “According to our information, since the start of 2006… more than 10 citizens of Ingushetia have been kidnapped or disappeared without a trace,” he told Kavkazky Uzel. “It should be noted that there have been significantly fewer kidnappings this year; nevertheless, each specific case is a tragedy, and we must do everything we can to help find them.”