Memorial Releases Report on Ingushetia’s Vicious Circle

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 9 Issue: 6 reported on February 14 that unidentified gunmen attacked the personal bodyguard unit of Ingushetia’s president, Murat Zyazikov. According to the opposition website, 11 members of Zyazikov’s bodyguard detail were injured when they were fired on with automatic weapons and grenade launchers in the village of Barsuki, which is located in the Baruskinsky municipal district of Nazran and is Zyazikov’s home town. A separate attack took place in Nazran’s Baruskinsky municipal district earlier on February 14, when unidentified gunmen fired on a vehicle carrying 10 policemen, wounding six of them, Interfax reported. On February 10, a grenade was tossed into the courtyard of the home of head of the federal Investigative Committee’s branch in Ingushetia, reported. The grenade did not explode and was subsequently detonated in a controlled explosion by bomb-disposal experts.

Meanwhile, Magomed Yevloev, a resident of the village of Ekazhevo in Ingushetia’s Nazran district, was arrested in downtown Nazran on February 13. Kavkazky Uzel reported that Yevloev, who has the same name but is not related to the opposition website owner, is in fact the brother of the wife of Maksharip Aushev, another opposition leader and co-organizer of the January 26 opposition rally in Nazran. Yevloev was arrested near the office of the Memorial human rights group, which was holding a press conference on the human rights situation in the republic when the arrest took place. Local police reportedly intervened to prevent Yevloev from being taken to neighboring North Ossetia, after which he was taken to the city of Magas. Several hundred people, many of them relatives of Yevloev, gathered in Nazran to protest his arrest and then set off for Magas. The police, however, prevented them from reaching Magas.

It is precisely this cycle of police repression and insurgent violence that Memorial was seeking to address in its February 13 press conference in Nazran. The human rights group called the news conference to announce the release of its new report, entitled “Ingushetia, 2007: Where to Next?” The group’s head, Oleg Orlov, told the press conference that the report is an attempt “to systematize information about violations of human rights in Ingushetia in 2007 and point to the mechanisms of the escalation of violence.” The report, he said, also analyzes what is likely to happen in Ingushetia in the coming months if “the authorities do not return to the legal field in the fight against the armed underground and in resolving political problems.” Orlov noted that Memorial had warned back in 2005 that the current system is incapable of fighting terrorism effectively and is actually engendering new, more terrible forms of violence. “What has been happening in Ingushetia in these last few months proves the accuracy of that warning,” Orlov said. “Gross and mass violations of human rights are leading to a destabilization of the situation—to catastrophe.”

Tamirlan Akiev, a staffer in Memorial’s Ingushetia office, said: “We are not disputing the need for a fight against terrorism; however, that fight must be carried out in compliance with legislation of the Russian Federation and its international human rights obligations.” Isa Gandarov, an Ingush lawyer, said that more than 20 complaints on behalf of residents of Ingushetia have already been prepared and will be filed with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Interfax quoted the Memorial report on Ingushetia as stating that the situation in the republic is “deadlocked,” with the republican authorities perceiving the real problems confronting them “not as challenges demanding responses and a solution, but as threats to [their] power.”