Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 233

President Ruslan Aushev of the north Caucasus Republic of Ingushetia has named Belan Khamchiev as Ingushetia’s new prime minister and instructed him to form a new government. (Itar-Tass, December 10) Aushev shocked both Moscow and Nazran on December 9 when he sacked almost the entire government, accusing it of being economically inefficient and, possibly, corrupt. This was the second change of government in Ingushetia within a year. Only the "power" ministers kept their posts.

The 36-year-old Khamchiev is being parachuted in from outside the government; since 1993 he has been in Moscow as Aushev’s representative to the Russian president. His appointment is nonetheless being seen in Moscow as a possibly alarming gesture of defiance. Kommersant-daily says that there are two (not inconsistent) explanations for the change. The first is that Russia’s military defeat in neighboring Chechnya has brought new and much tougher-minded leaders to power in Grozny. Chechnya, Kommersant-daily remarks, tends to look on Ingushetia "as Russia looks on Belarus," that is, as a little brother. Aushev has therefore responded to Chechnya’s tougher line, the newspaper suggests, by sacking his former prime minister, Mukharbek Didigov, "who has always been considered as a person with a pronounced pro-Moscow orientation."

The second explanation for the change of prime ministers is that Aushev is dissatisfied with the meager results to date of Ingushetia’s free economic zone (FEZ) — established two years ago–and wants a government that will pursue economic profit in a more hard-headed manner. Indeed, during a recent conversation with the Monitor Aushev observed that 90 percent of the republic’s budget still comes from economic subsidies. And unemployment remains unacceptably high, at 53 percent of the employable population. (See Monitor, November 22) Contrary to the hopes of those who introduced it, the FEZ has proven unable to solve the problem of settling the thousands of Ingush refugees who fled from North Ossetia in 1992, the majority of whom have not yet returned. These refugees still live in railroad cars and in their camps the Monitor’s correspondent met 13-year-olds who were unable to read or write.

Coal Miners’ Strike Comes to a Close.