On October 13, Ingushetia.org reported that the President of Ingushetia Yunus-bek Yevkurov, had called on the Ingush clans, known as teips, to form a teip council. Citing the importance of the teips for Ingush society, President Yevkurov decided to recruit them to improve the security situation in Ingushetia, while at the same time giving them modest bargaining chips.
Yevkurov explained: “The participation of the inhabitants of the republic [of Ingushetia] in implementing order [in Ingushetia] through representatives of their teips is the main aim of our initiative. If every teip can provide order among its own members, we will be able to improve the situation in the republic significantly” (www.ingushetia.org, October 13).
Yevkurov offered the council members student quotas to be distributed among the teip members. The teip of the Polonkoevs, whose elders Yevkurov met, were provided with a list of its members who are suspected of involvement in the Islamic insurgency. The Polonkoevs promised to examine the matter, before offering their solutions (www.ingushetia.org, October 13).
There are approximately thirty Ingush teips in Ingushetia of various size, importance and prestige (www.teptar.com, November 23, 2007). According to a census conducted in 2002, the ethnic Ingush comprise 77 percent of Ingushetia’s population of 500,000; the only other significant ethnic group is the closely related Chechens, who number up to 20 percent of the total population. Belonging to one or another teip permeates the life of the average Ingush, but the influence of the Ingush teips has eroded due to the spread of divisive Islamic teachings like Wahhabism and the political and economic turmoil in the republic.
It is striking that even Yevkurov, who is the republic’s Moscow-appointed leader, understands that without widening the democratic participation of the Ingush public, the chances are slim that the violence in Ingushetia will abate. However, Yevkurov’s attempt to use the traditional Ingush clan structures not only fails to provide real political participation, but it is clearly a reactionary measure that unnecessarily lends weight to an archaic institution.
On October 20, President Yevkurov offered, and Ingushetia’s parliament confirmed Alexei Vorobyov as the republic’s prime minister (www.ingushetia.org, October 20). The appointment is seen by many in Ingushetia as offensive to the Ingush, given that Vorobyov has no connection to Ingushetia. His appointment thus contributes to the further alienation of the people from the republic’s governing authorities.
While fighting the insurgency, Ingushetia’s authorities are not limited to the use of Ingush clans. On October 18, unknown attackers threw a grenade into a house belonging to the brother of an insurgent leader (Novy Region, October 18). It is likely that the attackers were in fact working on behalf of the authorities, given that Ingushetia’s law enforcement agencies and their federal counterparts have been accused of pressuring and even murdering the relatives of militants on numerous occasions.
In attempting to substitute the clans’ influence and allegiances for a democratic process, Ingushetia’s authorities have failed to provide a fair and transparent election process in the October 11 municipal elections. The Ingush opposition reported multiple irregularities and a very low voter turnout. According to the leader of the Ingush opposition, Magomed Khazbiev, even his family members that did not vote appeared on the voting lists as if they had voted (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, October 19).
Meanwhile, Ingushetia is experiencing violence on an alarming scale. An explosion occurred near the republican interior ministry headquarters on October 19. That same day, police claimed to have discovered and defused another car bomb (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, October 19). News of fresh violent incidents in Ingushetia arrives almost hourly.
Faced with the multitude of security and governance related issues, the media has fewer possibilities to work in Ingushetia unhindered. On October 14, a television crew from one of the relatively liberal Russian television companies, REN-TV, was attacked in Ingushetia and had to leave the republic without finishing their work. Another crew from the same company was kidnapped and subsequently released two years earlier in an incident that was never properly investigated (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, October 14). The website of the moderate Ingush opposition, Ingushetia.org, has also come under pressure, having reportedly endured constant distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks in the past two months (www.ingushetia.org, October 19).
Therefore, while Moscow occasionally replaces the leaders of Ingushetia, failed policies endure. This leads to economic stagnation, violence and political stalemate, which Moscow does not want to acknowledge. Instead, it replicates the same system based on raw power and minimal feedback from the populace.
The latest effort by Yevkurov to appease the Ingush people by playing games with their clans is a way of substituting proven democratic procedures with a propagandist appeal to the traditional self-governing structures. This move, especially without a real power-sharing scheme, is unlikely to yield additional leverage for the authorities in Ingushetia.