On March 4, Russia’s security services reported they managed to kill one of the leaders of Ingushetia’s insurgency, 30 year old Khamzat Korigov. Initially, the government sources said Korigov had detonated a bomb when the security agents surrounded him in Ingushetia’s principal town, Nazran. Later, the police altered the statement, saying that the militant was injured in a fight with law enforcement personnel and subsequently died (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, March 5). Ingushetia’s opposition website reported Korigov detonated a bomb, killing himself and a Federal Security Service (FSB) officer, while the militant’s wife stayed in his vehicle unharmed (www.ingushetiyaru.org, March 5).
While the security situation in Ingushetia was by no means stable prior to the attack at the Domodedovo airport in Moscow on January 24, more reports of violent incidents started to arrive from the republic following the suicide bombing there. On March 7, another suspected militant, Bagaudin Bogatyryov, was killed by police in the village of Upper Achaluki (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, March 7). On March 4, a counterterrorism operation regime was introduced in the town of Karabulak and was lifted on March 5 (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, March 5). Russian investigators announced that a resident of Ingushetia, 20-year-old Magomed Yevloev, was the suicide bomber who perpetrated the attack at Domodedovo airport on January 24, which claimed the lives of 37 people. After a resident of Ingushetia was implicated in the terrorist attack, the Russian security services predictably increased their activities in the republic. Yevloev’s brother and sister, as well as one of his friends, were charged with terrorist activities in Ingushetia and reportedly transferred to the Lefortovo prison in Moscow. The suspects’ lawyers denied the charges (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, March 2).
In November 2010 Ingushetia’s President, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, boasted of having quelled violence in the republic, which once accounted for a large portion of the reports of armed violence from the North Caucasus despite its small population of 500,000. Yevkurov said the authorities had managed to return 40 rebels back to civilian life in 2010 (http://rus.ruvr.ru/2010/11/04/31543204.html). However, the involvement of a resident of Ingushetia in the Domodedovo attack marred Yevkurov’s optimism. Even though the intensity of fighting in Ingushetia decreased significantly after the security services killed several insurgent leaders, and captured one of the principal ones, Ali Taziev (aka Magas), in June 2010, violence in Ingushetia was still very widespread and the insurgency remained quite active.
Indeed, 40 law enforcement agents were killed in Ingushetia in 2010, more than the 32 deaths experienced in neighboring Kabardino-Balkaria, which has seen a major upsurge in violence in the last 10 months. Last year Dagestan took the lead in absolute numbers of law enforcement agents killed in the North Caucasus with a reported 159 deaths. However, given the fact that Dagestan’s population is more than five times that of Ingushetia, in relative terms Ingushetia was still the deadliest republic in the North Caucasus for the law enforcement agencies in 2010. In 2009, more policemen were killed in Ingushetia (92) than in Dagestan (83) and just one less than in Chechnya (93) (http://www.memo.ru/2011/02/17/1702111.html).
So there are certainly reasons to believe that President Yevkurov’s successes are quite questionable. On February 21, the leading Ingush opposition figure, Magomed Khazbiev, rebuked Ingush and Russian authorities for deliberately destabilizing the republic. Speaking at a press conference in Moscow, Khazbiev said dozens of people were abducted in Ingushetia in 2010 and that several others have been abducted so far in 2011, while extralegal killings continued and some within the law enforcement agencies continued to violate the law with impunity. The Ingush activist stated that the opposition would resume organizing public protests in both Ingushetia and Moscow in order to force the authorities to abide by the law. Khazbiev said that public protests in 2008 helped to quell the wave of kidnapping and killings in Ingushetia for a while, as well as to replace the then president of Ingushetia, Murat Zyazikov, with Yunus-Bek Yevkurov. Khazbiev stated that Yevkurov did not live up to the public’s expectations, and that the republic had instead “swapped one group of carpetbaggers for another that rips off the federal budget and approves of continuing kidnappings and killings in the republic” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mu0vp5vMGpo).
Meanwhile, on March 3, police detonated explosive devices in two buildings where Ali Taziev’s brother lived with his family and his sister. The police stated that Taziev, who is still in pretrial detention, told them about bombs in his relatives’ homes and since they could not defuse the explosives, they had to evacuate the people and detonate the bombs. The Tazievs, however, accused the police of laying the explosive devices and detonating them. Taziev’s elder brother Askhab said Ali had not visited their home since 1998 and that he did not even have the chance to see Ali after he was captured in June 2010. The Taziev family, which was made homeless by the destruction of their home, says now that it was an act of terror “to scare others” (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, March 6). Also on March 1, police in neighboring Kabardino-Balkaria also claimed they had found explosive devices in the home of a rebel and that the bombs had accidentally exploded without injuring anyone (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, March 1).
At his February 21 press conference, Magomed Khazbiev alleged that Moscow controls which republics of the North Caucasus are violent and which are peaceful. While Moscow may not really have full control over the outbreaks of violence in the North Caucasus, it is possible to see from Ingushetia’s example why such a dependency exists. Following an attack in Moscow or another target that captures the Russian public’s attention, the security services become particularly active in the republic from which the attack came. As the security services seek quick results and lack intelligence information on the ground, they regularly abuse their powers. This combination in the North Caucasus invariably leads to increased levels of violence.