Thursday, November 8, 2018

Yevkurov Appeals to Russian Constitutional Court on Different Issue than Ingush Court Ruled

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 8 – Normally when someone appeals the decision of a lower court, he is asking the higher court to overturn the decision of the lower one. But that is not what Ingushetia head Yunus-Bek Yevkurov has done. Instead, he is asking the Russian Constitutional Court to rule on the validity of the border accord he reached with Chechnya’s Ramzan Kadyrov.

            The republic court in fact did not rule on that issue. What it found was that the way in which Yevkurov sought to have the agreement ratified, by the republic legislature rather than by a popular referendum as the republic constitution requires. Now, Yevkurov is asking the Russian court to rule on something else (

            That may seem a small thing, but there are at least two reasons why it is anything but. On the one hand, it may mean that the Moscow court will redefine the issues at stake in ways that will only deepen the alienation of the Ingush people or alternatively refuse to decide the question Yevkurov is asking because he is not requesting it to overrule the republic court.

            And on the other – and this is by far the more serious consequence – if the Russian court does rule in Yevkurov’s favor, many Ingush are not going to accept the Moscow court’s finding. Moreover, they are going to be even more furious at Yevkurov for the obvious contempt he is showing to his own republic’s basic law.

            As a result, those who think a decision by the Russian Constitutional Court will settle the matter are wrong. Whatever that court does, it will not calm passions in Ingushetia unless the border agreement Yevkurov and Kadyrov reached is rejected and unless the Ingush once again are allowed to elect their own republic head rather than have him appointed by the Kremlin.

            Today, Moscow media reported that Yevkurov had appealed to the Russian Constitutional Court asking it to determine whether the agreement on the border between Ingushetia and Chechnya corresponds to the Russian constitution.  Nothing was said about the republic court’s finding or about ratification procedures.

            The Russian court’s press office said that the court had received the appeal and that its secretariat had begun “preliminary” study of the issues at hand.  Yevkurov for his part refrained from any comment.  Ingush opposition groups and Chechens who support Kadyrov and his border gains have not yet weighed in either.

            Meanwhile, an important article appeared in today’s Komsomolskaya pravda.  The paper’s Vladimir Vorsobin said he had gone to visit the republic in order to find out what was going on regarding the border agreement. What he saw had forced him to ask the question: Is Ingushetia in fact part of the Russian Federation? (

                Most Russians have failed to appreciate that what is going on is “’a Caucasus Maidan’” because Russian television hasn’t covered the protests, the journalist says. “For the television, this is obvious haram – Arabic for unclear or prohibited.”  Instead, Moscow has acted as if the border dispute between Ingushetia and Chechnya was like one between Voronezh and Lipetsk.

            Russians thus do not understand that the dispute about the border is not about hectares of land, although they matter, but about the respect that the Ingush feel they are not being shown either by the Russian authorities or by the ruler Moscow has imposed on them.  And Russians have not learned something else that would surprise many of them.

            In this dispute, Vorsobin says, the Wahhabis are not the ones opposed to the border accord. Instead, these Islamist groups are precisely the ones who have come out in support of Yevkurov and the official position of his government.  This pattern doesn’t fit well into the Russian Federation, he suggests.

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