Staunton, October 3 – Having just marked his first anniversary in office with an interview saying he brings in outsiders to rule because they “don’t have relatives” in Ingushetia, republic head Makhmud-Ali Kalimatov has taken two more steps in that direction, one involving the government and a second involving the republic’s Muslim administration.
Yesterday, he named as first deputy head of the republic government Oleg Fursov, the former head of Samara, who joins other officials including the prime minister who aren’t Ingush but rather come from the Middle Volga of the Russian Federation (capost.media/news/politika/pervym-vitse-premerom-ingushetii-stal-varyag-fursov-/).
And as the same time, as the Ingush authorities staged raids against the residents of former Ingush mufti Magomed Khastyrov and imam Adam Maloroyev and called both in for interrogations, Kalimatov oversaw the opening in Ingushetia of a branch of the Central Muslim Spiritual Directorate (Central MSD) which is based in Ufa, also in the Middle Volga.
Coverage of Kalimatov’s moves against Khastyrov and Maloroyev suggested that the republic head wants to intimidate Muslim leaders as a means of preventing a new upsurge in protests, but the creation of a branch office of the Central MSD in Ingushetia may be far more significant for the future of the republic (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/354847/).
On the one hand, it likely indicates that Kalimatov will back his officials and not allow the reopening of a local MSD – it was shut down by official action in September 2019 – but instead demand that Muslim parishes subordinate themselves to Ufa, which is headed by the notoriously Kremlin-subservient Talgat Tajuddin.
And on the other, by introducing a branch of the Central MSD in Ingushetia, Kalimatov is likely blazing the trail to ensure that the Ufa MSD rather than the North Caucasus ones will become the dominant administration in the region. While this will spark controversy, it is an indication of the direction Magas and, behind it, Moscow appear to want to go.
Meanwhile, Kalimatov made two other moves to tighten the screws on Ingush society. His procuracy opened an investigation into statements of Idris Abadiyev, head of the Peoples Council of Ingushetia, for supposed extremism (kavkazr.com/a/30869875.html); and it continued its campaign to do away with the republic’s Constitutional Court (kavkaz-uzel.eu/blogs/342/posts/45337).
As Magas prepares for the trial later this month or early next of the leaders of the Ingush protests in March 2019, it is doing everything it can to prevent an outburst of protests at the time of that event. But its heavyhandedness may very well have exactly the opposite effect, providing yet another reason for Ingush civil society to again take to the streets.