Putin Decorates Zyazikov for “Services to the Fatherland”

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 9 Issue: 8

President Vladimir Putin signed a decree awarding Ingushetia’s president, Murat Zyazikov, an Order “For Services to the Fatherland,” third degree, Newsru.com reported on February 26. The press service of Ingushetia’s president said Zyazikov had been awarded for his “large contribution to the republic’s socio-economic development and many years of fruitful work.” As Kavakzky Uzel noted on February 29, Ingushetia has one of the highest unemployment rates in Russia: according to the Russian Federation Statistics agency (Rosstat), 52.6 percent of Ingushetia’s economically active population were unemployed as of the end of 2007, up from 43 percent as of June 2007. According to the website, in neighboring Chechnya, which has even higher unemployment, the rate nonetheless dropped last year—from 70 percent in June 2007 to 61.5 percent as of December 2007.

In addition, food prices in Ingushetia are rising, as they are in the rest of Russia, and gasoline prices in Ingushetia are the highest in southern Russia. Citing the independent Ingushetiya.ru website, Kavkazky Uzel reported that more and more residents of Ingushetia are moving abroad in search of better living standards.

The Memorial human rights group stated in a report on Ingushetia released earlier this month that the situation in Ingushetia is heading toward a “catastrophe” (Chechnya Weekly, February 14). According to Newsru.com, Memorial’s report, citing the office of Ingushetia’s prosecutor, says that the number of attacks by rebels on security personnel increased 85 percent in 2007 over 2006 and that the security forces, in their turn, committed gross violations of human rights. “The cruel tactic of counter-terror being used in Ingushetia is reminiscent of Chechnya in 2000-2003,” the report says.

Memorial’s report also states that Ingushetia is in the midst of a political crisis. “The current leadership of Ingushetia is incapable of influencing the situation, cannot resolve a single one of the urgent problems, cannot protect the population from militant attacks or the lawlessness of the siloviki, cannot provide for economic development, cannot create jobs, cannot defend what a majority of the population sees as national interests,” it states. While a majority of Ingushetia’s people are forced to endure such hardships, luxurious mansions belonging to officials are sprouting up in the republic, Memorial says in its report. “Dissatisfaction within society has reached critical mass, however no democratic mechanisms remain to influence the authorities,” the report states.

Meanwhile, Itar-Tass reported that three militants died in a shootout with FSB personnel during a special operation in Nazran on February 28. The news agency quoted an FSB source as saying that the militants opened fire with automatic rifles and grenade launchers on security forces who approached a home in Nazran’s Altievo municipal district. Two militants were fatally wounded in the shootout while a female “terrorist” killed herself by detonating a bomb. Ingushetiya.ru, however, citing an unnamed official in Ingushetia’s Interior Ministry, reported that all three of those killed in the shootout were women. A member of the security forces was reportedly wounded in the battle. Earlier on February 28, Russian news agencies report that Interior Ministry and FSB forces had killed five militants who had been tracked to a private home in Nazran’s Gamurzievo district. A woman was reportedly among the five killed in that special operation.

On February 27, a security officer was wounded when a vehicle carrying three security officers hit a mine in the village of Ordzhonikidzevskaya in Ingushetia’s Sunzha district. On February 22, a policeman and two local residents were injured when unidentified attackers fired on a police car on the Karabulak-Nazran road, RIA Novosti reported. (See the articles by Andrei Smirnov and Mairbek Vatchagaev below.)