Zyazikov Reportedly Beaten Up by Opposition Businessman

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 9 Issue: 17

The opposition Ingushetiya.ru website reported on April 30 that around two weeks earlier, Musa Keligov, the former deputy presidential envoy to the Southern Federal District and well-known businessman who some call the “purse” of the opposition to Murat Zyazikov, Ingushetia’s president (Chechnya Weekly, March 20), by chance ran into Zyazikov in a Moscow hotel. According to Ingushetiya.ru, the chance encounter ended with Zyazikov’s bodyguards finding him “unconscious and with a smashed face.” The website reported that Keligov asked Zyazikov bodyguards to tell Zyazikov once he regained consciousness that he had been dealt with “according to Ingush laws” and that judgment according to Russian laws lay ahead.

According to Ingushetiya.ru, Keligov beat up Zyazikov because the Ingush president had ordered the republic’s acting prosecutor, Gelani Merzhuev, to ask a court to designate an interview that Keligov gave to the newspaper Vremya Novostei and was published on February 11 as “extremist.” In that interview, Merzhuev not only criticized Zyazikov and said that opposition protests in Ingushetia were the result of Zyazikov’s own failings, but also said that Zyazikov’s predecessor, Ruslan Aushev, would handle the situation better and still enjoyed the support of at least 80 percent of Ingushetia’s population.

Ingushetiya.ru reported that Merzhuev, on Zyazikov’s orders, asked an Ingush court to designate the interview as “extremist” despite the fact that legally, he could ask a court for a ruling only after a formal investigation of the article’s contents was carried out and after Zyazikov filed suit on the basis that the article contained falsehoods that impugned his honor and dignity. Despite the fact that these conditions were not met, Merzhuev asked a Nazran court to rule on whether or not Keligov’s interview was extremist, and the court ruled on April 3 that the interview was indeed extremist in nature.

Itar-Tass on May 1 quoted Zyazikov’s press secretary, Bers Yevloev, as saying that the report of a fight between the Ingushetian president and a “certain Ingush businessman” in a Moscow hotel was simply another attempt to “destabilize the situation in the republic [and] disrupt the atmosphere of inter-ethnic peace and accord” in Ingushetia. The claims made about the incident are “provocations and slanderous statements,” Yevloev said.

Meanwhile, Newsru.com reported on May 1 that the opposition in Ingushetia has begun collecting signatures on a petition calling for Ruslan Aushev to return as the republic’s president. “The form of the signature lists has already been worked out [and] those responsible for gathering signatures in a majority of Ingushetia’s inhabited localities have already been determined,” the website quoted Magomed Khazbiev, the head of organizing committee for “the national Ingush protest rally,” as saying.

Khazbiev, who has been among the organizers of other anti-Zyazikov protests in Ingushetia, said the petition calling on Ruslan Aushev to return as the republic’s president is connected to the fact that the socio-political and economic situation in the republic has spun out of the federal authorities’ control and is becoming increasingly threatening. He said statements made by officials claiming that the situation in Ingushetia is under control do not correspond to reality. According to Khazbiev, the citizens of Ingushetia, along with representatives of religious and public organizations in the republic, are expressing deep concern about the republic’s unstable situation, violations of human rights and growing economic problems. He said that inter-ethnic tension in Ingushetia is increasing and that its population has ceased feeling like it is part of Russia since it does not see federal authorities paying attention to its problems. Evidence of this is the news that has been coming out of the republic recently, Khazbiev said.

In that regard, the news coming out of Ingushetia during the last week was replete with reports of attacks that have become the norm in the republic over the last year or so. Interfax reported on May 1 that a serviceman with the federal Interior Ministry’s Internal Troops was wounded in an attack on a police post on the Kavkaz federal highway in Ingushetia’s Nazran district. A law-enforcement source said it was possible that the serviceman was shot by a sniper.

Kavkazky Uzel reported April 30 that a policeman in the city of Malgobek escaped injury when he found and defused a radio-controlled improvised explosive device underneath his car. A similar incident took place in Malgobek on April 27 when a homemade explosive device was found underneath a car belonging to an officer of the Ingush branch of the Federal Security Service (FSB).

Newsru.com reported on April 29 that a homemade explosive device employing an anti-tank bazooka round was detonated at a bus stop near the central district hospital in Nazran. No one was hurt in the incident. Two other improvised explosive devices were discovered and defused in Nazran later that same day.

On April 25, unidentified gunmen fired on a car belonging to a deputy in Ingushetia’s People’s Assembly, Ruslan Gagiev. The legislator’s brother, Islam Gagiev, who was behind the wheel at the time of the attack, was hit by gunfire and died of his wounds in the hospital several hours later. RIA Novosti quoted a law-enforcement source in Ingushetia as saying two other people were wounded in the shooting, but they were not identified. The source said that 30 minutes after the attack on Gagiev’s car, unidentified gunmen reportedly driving in a Zhiguli automobile fired on a traffic police post located near the Matritsa movie theater in Nazran, wounding one policeman. Ten minutes after that second attack, gunmen fired on a police post located on Kommunalnaya Street in Nazran, wounding another policeman.

Kavkazky Uzel reported on April 24 that two servicemen were wounded when militants detonated a radio-controlled explosive device as a column of military vehicles was passing by. Ingushetiya.ru reported that the blast also damaged an armored personnel carrier. There was no information about exactly where the incident took place.

Kavkazky Uzel reported on April 23 that unidentified attackers in the village of Surkhakhi, which is located in Ingushetia’s Nazran district, fired on a car carrying FSB officers. Citing RIA Novosti, the website reported that two FSB officers were wounded in the attack and taken to the hospital, where they were listed in grave condition (Chechnya Weekly, April 24). However, Ingushetiya.ru, citing a Nazran district police source, reported on April 23 that three FSB officers had been killed and one seriously wounded in an attack that took place next to a new rural mosque. The opposition website reported that everyone, even officers from Ingushetia’s Interior Ministry, were being kept away from the site of the attack by FSB units that blocked the main road leading from Nazran to Surkhakhi following the attack. Ingushetiya.ru reported that armored personnel carriers and other armored vehicles had been deployed inside Surkhakhi itself.

Following up on an incident on April 21 in which unidentified gunmen reportedly fired on a police checkpoint on the Kavkaz federal highway in Nazran’s Nasyr-Kortovsky municipal district, (Chechnya Weekly, April 24), Kavkazky Uzel reported that while, according to initial reports, policemen and Interior Troops servicemen had returned fire, local residents later claimed that the checkpoint was not fired on at all and that the law-enforcement personnel at the checkpoint had aimed intense fire from grenade launchers and large-caliber machineguns at nearby homes. According to Kavkazky Uzel, Khidrieva Maret, a resident of the village of Ekhazhevo, was wounded in the security forces’ barrage.