Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Absence of Ingush Among Leaders of Republic Force Structures Makes People Feel They’re ‘Under Colonial Rule,’ Fortanga Says

Paul Goble
            Staunton, June 14 – With the exception of Chechnya, force structures are headed by outsiders rather than local people, something that creates the feeling among people there that they are “under foreign rule” or have been reduced to the status of “a colony,” an unsigned article on the Fortanga portal says. And Ingushetia is an especially clear case of this. 

            To be sure, the article continues, Ingushetia is not in as bad a position in this regard as Daghestan where both the head of the republic, Vladimir Vasilyev, and the prime minister, Artyom Zdunov, are outsiders. But the situation has gone very war and appears to reflect distrust by the Kremlin of “the entire people” (fortanga.org/2020/06/ingushetii-nuzhen-svoj-ili-chuzhoj/).

            The article says that the situation in the republic interior ministry is especially unfortunate in this regard. The minister and both his deputies are Russians from the outside, and eight of the nine heads of ministry administrations are as well. Only one has a Caucasus name, and he isn’t an Ingush but rather a Dargin from Stavropol kray.

            To get Russians to serve in Ingushetia, the article continues, Moscow arranges for them to be paid twice as much as local people would get if they were named to such positions. That practice surfaced in October 2019 and sparked a collective protest by Ingush officers serving in the ranks.

            Moscow has displayed particular distrust to interior ministry officers since October 2019 when Ingush police refused orders to use force to disperse a demonstration. Criminal cases were opened against the officers involved, and more Russians were sent in to ensure that didn’t happen again.

            Ingush police also protested at that time when the powers that be fired an ethnic Ingush and replaced him with an ethnic Russian from Stavropol kray, a man who had no experience working in Ingushetia at all. They were punished, and the Russian remains in place, the article says.

            Many in Russia believe that the North Caucasus, “including Ingushetia,” is a center of crime and that outsiders are needed to control things. “But statistics say the opposite,” the Fortanga article argues.  Violent crime is very low despite the fact that many people in the region own guns.

            In the last years of the existence of the Soviet Union, non-Russians measured their progress by Moscow’s readiness to name first the republic first secretaries and then subordinate officials who were members of the titular nationalities. The last officials to become local in this way were the second secretaries who exercised overall control for Moscow and the heads of the security agencies.

            It is striking that now, 30 years later, non-Russians are measuring their progress or their lack of it by the same yardstick, yet another indication that the forces which tore the USSR apart continue to exist within the current borders of the Russian Federation.

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