Saturday, July 13, 2019

Hopes for End to Repression in Ingushetia Dashed Today

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 13 – Widespread hopes that the replacement of Yunus-Bek Yevkurov by Makhmud-Ali Kalimatov as head of Ingushetia would lead to a reduction or even an end to repression in that North Caucasus republic were dashed over the last 24 hours by the arrest of two prominent figures, a crusading journalist and a prominent woman activist.

            Among those caught up in this sweep was Rashid Maysigov, the head of the Fortanga telegram channel who was accused of having large quantities of drugs in his possession, drugs that his supporters say were planted by the authorities. His Internet outlet has been one of the most important chroniclers of repressions in Ingushetia (

            Also arrested was Zarifa Sautiyeva, an Ingush activist and employee of the Memorial Complex of Victims of Repression in Manas, who was accused of using force against the siloviki. This is the first time a woman has been detained since the current unrest began (

            Meanwhile, the Supreme Court of Kabardino-Balkaria where many Ingush prisoners are being kept rejected an appeal by Malsa Uzhakhov, the head of the Union of Teips of the Ingush People, who had sought a reduction in the period of his detention on charges that he was behind the disorders and attacks on siloviki (

            Ingush commentator Mustafa Dzhagiyev says that these actions suggest the new regime in Ingushetia will behave as bad or worse than the old one and that more confrontations between the powers that be there and the population are thus likely even though many opposition leaders are behind bars (

            Angela Matiyeva, a representative of the Ingush Committee of National Unity, says that these latest actions coming on top of others will have a serious and negative impact on Russia’s image abroad. If the authorities continue as they are, that image will only be further blackened, she argues (

            But perhaps the most important comment on these latest developments in Ingushetia came from Denis Sokolov, a specialist on the Caucasus and head of the RAMCOR Research Center. He argues in a commentary posted on Zamanho that the latest actions appear to be “ritual detentions,” and that allows for “certain conclusions” (

            Four are particularly important. First, he writes, “Moscow can recall the head of a region and replace one representative with another but the center will not stop the punitive machine because that is all that remains of the state, a machine running on inertia with a corrupt and hierarchical police.”

            Second, this is all happening not only because of the Kremlin’s choice. “The punitive machine in Russia has an ‘on’ button but not an ‘off’ one. The single exception recently was Golunov but there were many special features of that case.”

            Third, “the police machine is hierarchical but is organized on the principle of feudal vassalage. Each subdivision has its own territory on which it feeds. Ingush law enforcement personnel cannot without special efforts act on the territory of Moscow or even on the territory of neighboring republics. Zarifa was arrested only when she turned up on her own region. But even the center does not intervene in the affairs of the vassals.”

            And fourth, “this police-feudal structure is what the Russian state now is. Appeals to the constitution and legality by protesters are viewed by it as an infringement on its sovereignty. This is its constitution, its courts, and its laws. And the state, or more accurately its beneficiaries act and will act with these privatized institutes anyway they want.”

            Two other developments over the last day deserve mention: On the one hand, Kalimatov accepted the resignation of Bagaudin Ozdoyev as first deputy prime minister ( And on the other, investigators say they have evidence of systematic beatings of the Ingush girl now in Moscow hospital ( and

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