Monday, December 3, 2018

Ingush Opponents of Border Change Increasingly Rely on Muslim Ties, Customary Law

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 3 – Given Yunus-Bek Yevkurov’s tight control over government structures in Ingushetia, those who oppose him and his border accord with Chechnya are increasingly relying on the Muslim community, traditional clans, and customary law. As a result, traditionalist elements are now challenging modernist ones for control of the republic.

            Not only does this trend highlight the fact often denied by Russian and Ingush officials that traditional elements remain remarkably strong, but it also shows the strength of Ingush opposition to Yevkurov’s border accord – and even more the difficulties he and Moscow are going to have in restoring order in that North Caucasus republic.

            In an effort to control the situation, Yevkurov and his officials are engaging in patently illegal actions, including disseminating personal information about their opponents to regional officials who are now being challenged by the leaders of the taips and by activists who are appealing to the republic magistracy and to Moscow.

            These conclusions flow from three developments reported in the last two days. First of all, the First Congress of Muslims of Ingushetia, instead of focusing on Islamic issues, devoted most of its attention and nearly all of its resolution to denouncing the border accord and Yevkurov personally (сегодня-1-декабря-2018-г-в-центральной-мече/).

                At the meeting, which attracted more than 400 delegates from almost all the villages of Ingushetia, speakers demanded that the borders of Ingushetia be restored to what they were before the September 26 Yevkurov-Kadyrov accord. Significantly, both Muslim leaders and heads of the clans (taips) echoed on another on that point.

            Second, Magomed Mutsolgov, a leader of the opposition to Yevkurov, filed a complaint with the Ingush magistracy documenting the ways in which Yevkurov’s entourage is illegally disseminating personal information about those who oppose him to regional officials who presumably can take action out of public view (

            He has now published his appeal and a photocopy of a document that shared his personal information with regional officials. It is likely that others have been victimized in similar ways, and the opposition is showing its readiness to use these channels even as it moves ever further away from the secular state structures.

            And third, in an analysis on the Ekho Kavkaza portal, commentator Timur Akiyev says that Ingush society is moving quickly “from the Constitution to the adats,” from Russian and Ingush laws to the traditional rules that have governed North Caucasus communities from time immemorial (

                He argues that this “return to adat rules” not only underscores the growing opposition to the border accord and to Yevkurov personally but also “can be considered as a manifestation of distrust in the existing legal system in the country and as a defense from possible repressions toward active participants in the protest.”

            Moscow and the Ingush republic government may ignore this but only at their peril, he says, because this turn to traditional elements “very significantly strengthens the position of the opponents of Yevkurov among the local population,” something that republic elites of various kinds are now going to have to take into consideration.

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