Ingushetia’s Law-Enforcers Promise Unspecified Measures to Halt Violence

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 35

Kavkazky Uzel reported on September 11 that the heads of Ingushetia’s law-enforcement bodies had met on September 8 to discuss “additional measures to stabilize the situation in the republic.” According to sources in the republic prosecutor’s office, Ingushetia’s chief prosecutor, Yury Turygin, said during the meeting that despite steps taken by the law-enforcement bodies, the situation in the republic remained tense and a series of serious crimes had taken place, “the victims of which were representatives of different nationalities.” He called for “a complex of constructive measures” to fight terrorism. The assembled siloviki also discussed “shortcomings in the work of the internal affairs bodies to prevent and fight crime,” as well ways of uprooting these evils. The source in the prosecutor’s office said that concrete measures to achieve this were discussed, but the source did not specify what those measures were.

A possible hint of the kind of measures the republic’s leadership had in mind came in an interview that Ingush President Murat Zyazikov gave to Novye izvestia, which was published on September 10. Asked about Ingushetia residents who had held public protests charging that their relatives had been detained on the basis of false charges of abetting terrorists, Zyazikov said: “I don’t allow rallies here. Because I know how it started in Grozny – with rallies of 5-6 people, and then everything was covered with blood.” He added: “Rallies have never resolved anything in the Caucasus, and will not resolve anything. Such things are usually initiated by someone. I will not permit that here. You want to rub shoulders, put in a request, [and] the prosecutor will come, meet you in the reception room, [and] hear you out.” Zyazikov has insisted that the situation in Ingushetia is improving and has accused enemies, both foreign and domestic, of launching an “information war” against the republic (Chechnya Weekly, September 6).

Some Ingush politicians, however, have expressed alarm over what has been happening in the republic over the past several months. “Every day, innocent citizens are murdered: Russians, Ingush, representatives of other nationalities,” Kavkazky Uzel quoted Bamatgiri Mankiev, a deputy in Ingushetia’s People’s Assembly, as saying. “Without trial, young guys whose guilt has not been proven by anyone are executed by shooting. The local authorities absolutely do not control the situation. Essentially, a parallel local MVD [Ministry of Internal Affairs] structure has been created in Ingushetia that is not subordinated to the republic’s leadership. What will come of all of this, nobody knows.”

Nezavisimaya gazeta on September 10 quoted Kamil Magishev, chairman of the Svobodnoye Slovo [Free Speech] human rights association, as saying that the “preventive” operation that the military in Ingushetia has been carrying out in recent weeks has been “accompanied by an abuse of authority and the inappropriate use of force,” which has played into the “provocateurs” who ordered “the killings of teachers and doctors.” He added: “After all, the victims of the military frequently swell the ranks of the militants. Therefore, for Ingushetia, the killings of innocent women and the crudely executed zachistki [security sweeps] are equally provocative. Magas [the capital of Ingushetia], which is assuring everyone, above all Moscow, that the situation is under control, is in fact itself a hostage of circumstances. The authorities are incapable of influencing the special services and military, since these are federal structures. And, at the same time, they do not have the strength to resist the militants’ forays independently.”

Aleksei Malashenko, a member of the Moscow Carnegie Foundation’s research council, told Nezavisimaya gazeta: “Several circumstances have coincided. First, the complex relations within Ingush society, in which various clans operate. At the same time, Murat Zyazikov relies more on Moscow than on them. His popularity in the republic is not particularly high. Hence, blows are being inflicted on Zyazikov [and] his relatives. Secondly, the Islamists and other such types have settled in Ingushetia precisely because the regime here is not so strong. Third and last, I have the feeling that between those unhappy with Zyazikov, including from the main visible clans, and these Islamists, there exists, if not an agreement, then a kind of mutual understanding. It is this, evidently, that is giving them strength.”

Kavkazky Uzel on September 12 quoted Magomed Mytsolgov, head of the Ingush human rights group Mashr (Peace), as predicting that the situation in Ingushetia will worsen as the number of troops deployed in the republic increases. “Since November 1 [2006] there has been a temporary operational group (VOG) of the MVD of Russia for Ingushetia headed by militia General-Major Gennady Ivanov operating in the republic,” Mytsolgov told the website. “Operational groups have been created in each district and city police department, each of which is made up of 25-30 policemen from different regions of the Russian Federation. You essentially have a situation in which a new de facto MVD has been created in a Russian Federation subject…There have been quite a few instances in which employees of different power agencies from neighboring republics assigned to the republic [Ingushetia] have participated in the kidnapping and murder of young people in the territory of Ingushetia. Despite much evidence and data, these people have managed to escape responsibility. If the attitude of the authorities toward what’s going on does not change, then similar incidents cannot be ruled out in the future, which could lead to more tragic and large-scale consequences capable of destabilizing an already difficult situation in the North Caucasus.”

Commenting on the murder of the three members of a Gypsy family in the village of Ordzhonikidzevskaya – Vasily Lyulakov and his two sons – Aslanbek Apaev, a North Caucasus expert with the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, told Kavkazky Uzel: “Given the number of troops [in Ingushetia], given the number of force structures, the quantity of which will probably soon exceed the population itself, it is simply absurd.” Earlier, Apaev warned that the federal center could completely lose control of the situation in Ingushetia.