Sunday, November 8, 2020

Declaring Ingushetia Bankrupt Sets a Precedent but May Lead to Explosion There

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 6 – Moscow’s decision to declare Ingushetia bankrupt creates a precedent that the center is likely to use elsewhere to increase its control over the regions, especially as more find themselves in equally dire straits as coronavirus costs rise and Moscow subsidies fall, experts say (

            According to one specialist, Vladimir Klimanov of the Russian Academy of Economics and State Service, there are “at a minimum” seven regions likely to be declared bankrupt soon: Daghestan, Chechnya, Karachayevo-Cherkessia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Mordvinia, Altay and Tyva (

            This trend appears all the more likely because Russian economists are already arguing that the decision to declare Ingushetia bankrupt was fully justified and that, in conditions of economic stringency, it may very well be the only way that Moscow can get its financial house in order as far as the regions and republics are concerned (

            But while that may be true, the inherent invasiveness of such Russian financial supervision will outrage officials and peoples in any where this step is taken even if it is presented as the only way that Moscow will continue to subsidize the regions or republics involved because it won’t be universal but instead will create new classes of winners and losers.

            And the impact of this decision by the center on Ingushetia is likely to be especially negative and even prove explosive, creating new problems for Moscow in that restive republic. On the one hand, if Moscow cuts back social programs to save money as its finance ministry representatives are likely to, conditions in the poorest federal subject are likely to deteriorate further.

            That could lead to a social explosion especially if it becomes intertwined with the apparent plans of Moscow and Magas to have a show trial of the eight Ingush protest leaders sometime soon. Such a combination of class and ethnic factors would confront the powers that be with an even greater challenge than they now face.

            And on the other, Moscow’s latest move in Ingushetia has convinced some in that republic that this is yet another path for the center to force Ingushetia to unite with Chechnya, something Ramzan Kadyrov very much wants and that the land deal of September 2018 seemed to presage.

            (It will be remembered that Chechnya and Ingushetia were a single autonomous republic in Soviet times, but they became two in 1991 when the Chechens declared independence from Moscow and Ingushetia then split off to form its own federal subject.)

            While many Ingush suspect Moscow wants to unite the two republics again both to continue with Putin’s amalgamation project and to please Ramzan Kadyrov, most experts say that is highly unlikely. Chechnya is almost as near to bankruptcy as Ingushetia, and combining two problem federal subjects won’t solve anything (

            As Russian political scientist Miklhail Savva points out, Moscow wants to combine financially weak regions with financially strong ones, as in the case of impoverished Arkhangelsk Oblast and the rich Nenets Autonomous District. “There is simply no sense in unifying two problem regions.” Doing so might even make the situation in each worse. 

            At the same time, Moscow’s move in Ingushetia may allow it to seize local firms – as has just happened elsewhere in the North Caucasus ( – and become more deeply intertwined with corruption cases (

            To the extent that happens, Moscow may find itself even more deeply mired in political problems however much improvement direct financial supervision in fact allows.

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