Saturday, November 3, 2018

Three Russian Debates Intensify about Ingushetia Events

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 2 – Now that the active phase of the Ingush protests appears to have passed, three debates about events there have intensified: Was this conflict orchestrated by the Kremlin or self-generated? Was it a victory or a loss for Yunus-Bek Yevkurov and/or for Ramzan Kadyrov? and Will it spread or will it remain contained within the two republics?

            Debates about whether the Kremlin is behind something that happens are an invariable part of discussions about developments across the Russian Federation. The center is so powerful that many are inclined to see it as all-powerful, as the man behind the curtain in any and all circumstances.

            Among those who have argued that position most consistently with regard to Ingushetia are Moscow commentator Oleg Kashin ( and Israeli expert Avraam Shmulyevich (

            Among those taking the opposite tact are two other Moscow writers, Ilya Ponomaryev ( and Aleksandr Khaldey who goes so far as to say that Moscow has lost control of the situation (

            As far as winners and losers are concerned, ever more commentaries are suggesting that at best Yevkurov won “a Pyrrhic victory” because he probably will win out as far as the border accord is concerned but has shown himself unable to control his republic, something the Kremlin will remember (

            Kadyrov may not have gotten all he wanted from the deal -- many Chechens are clearly unhappy that his actions have deepened the division between the two Vaynakh peoples – most writers say that Vladimir Putin will never punish the Chechen leader, although some add that the Kremlin leader can’t be happy with his latest action (

            Some commentators, like Mikhail Vinogradov of Petersburg Politics, suggest that all three capitals were the losers at least so far, with those in power looking either weak or confused or overly ambitious without regard to consequences, something that may reorder politics in the region or more broadly in the future (

            As far as whether this conflict will spread across the North Caucasus or even further, there are also divisions. Ponomaryev argues that it won’t, that the issues and conditions in Ingushetia are sufficiently unique and Moscow’s response clear enough that there won’t be a repetition (

            Others like Shmulyevich and Khaldey are convinced it will spread, with the former sure Moscow won’t be able to stop this from happening and the latter suggesting the center can contain it if it displays sufficient conflict management skills ( and
                Meanwhile, another development today may cast a larger shadow on the future than might seem to be the case now. Ingush activists that Chechen businesses are already cutting down trees in the forest of the Erzi Nature Reserve, threatening its ecological balance and underscoring how much Grozny wants to exploit what they see as Ingush land (

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