Monday, August 12, 2019

New Ingush Head Kalimatov has Far More Room for Maneuver than Yevkurov Did, Khrustalyeva Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 10 – Yunus-Bek Yevkurov was caught between his duties as a Russian officer and his membership in the Ingush nation, Yelena Khrustalova says; and at the end of his time in office, he opted to work as a Russian officer rather than an Ingush politician. That led Yevkurov to make the land deal for which the Ingush people could never forgive him.

            It also meant that when the population rose against him in protests last fall and again this spring, he had nowhere to go and so dug it, relying on repression to try to maintain order. But she tells Sergey Zharkov of Prague’s Caucasus Times that “the Ingush were simply tired” of him and he had to go (

                According to Khrustalova, a longtime specialist on the North Caucasus, Makhmud-Ali Kalimatov doesn’t face this kind of “terrible” dilemma “because he isn’t a military man.”  And as a result, “he has much greater room for maneuver.”  Zelimkhan Ozdoyev, who knows Kalimatov well, agrees but says there is another problem.

            The new republic head, Ozdoyev continue, is someone who believes in following the letter of the law regardless of where that leads. He prefers openness in prosecutorial and legal actions. But he focuses above all on the texts of laws. That could be a disaster, and the new head must learn to show a certain “flexibility” or there will be problems. 

            Khrustalova agrees and says that it is too early to tell what will happen. Kalimatov so far as avoided publicity while Yevkurov wanted to be in the media constantly. The new head is spending most of his time putting his team together, a wise decision but one that puts off many important decisions, including decisions about relations with power blocs in society.

            According to these experts, “the people and society of Ingushetia expect from the new head the resolution of the main question” which sparked the protests and Yevkurov’s departure, the question of land.  They expect him, opposition leader Magomed Mutsolgov, expect that above all else.

            But they also expect the release of the political prisoners and the restoration of a popularly elected republic head.  It is far from clear whether Makhmudov can deliver on any of these demands.

            And hanging over these issues, the SKFO Telegram Channel says, is the issue of demarcating and formalizing the border of Ingushetia with North Ossetia. Under Russian law, the guidance of the new head above all else, that task is supposed to be completed by early next year.

            Khrustalova is pessimistic about the future. If Kalimatov does not show some progress toward the position of the opposition on its key issues, the North Ossetia border question could easily lead to the radical destabilization of the republic and even its descent into the worst kind of violence.

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