Staunton, October 16 – The meeting between representatives of the Ingush protesters and Aleksandr Matovnikov, presidential plenipotentiary for the North Caucasus Federal District, collapsed when Putin’s man refused to make concessions and instead urged the Ingush to take the whole territorial dispute to court (newtimes.ru/articles/detail/171274).
The Ingush representatives walked out of the Pyatigorsk meeting in anger. They also declared that they had not agreed to talks with republic head Yunus-Bek Yevkurov despite the latter’s claim that such conversations would occur as early as October 17 (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/326282/).
Other developments over the last 24 hours suggest that the crisis is deepening rather than on its way to some resolution. Among them, as reported by the Kavkaz-Uzel chronology, are the following:
· Magas officials left without a response the protesters’ application for an extension of permission to protest beyond October 17. The government posted online the agenda for the next meeting of the republic parliament: it did not list any discussion of the border accord.
· Protesters after the failed meeting with Putin’s representative met to discuss new ways of expanding their demonstrations, including with automobile parades and the like.
· Chechnya went ahead with a declaration that the border accord the Ingush are protesting against has now gone into force and that Grozny will act on the basis of that accord rather than waiting for any new developments.
· Aleksey Malashenko and two other Moscow analysts celebrated the fact that the Kremlin had called on Yevkurov not to use force against the demonstrators, calling it a “unique” development in Russian history.
But other commentaries and reports which considered the crisis more broadly were far more pandessimistic. Yezhednevny zhurnal commentator Aleksandr Ryklin said that the attack on the Amnesty representative in Ingushetia showed the “Kadyrization” of the North Caucasus and its exit from the Russian legal field (ej.ru/?a=note&id=33021).
The Prague-based Caucasus Times said that it has observed a shift in the power arrangements in Ingushetia. Support for the government has collapsed, while public backing for religious groups and taips is growing, pointing the way to more serioousss clashes ahead (caucasustimes.com/ru/opros-v-ingushetii-ot-avtoriteta-vlasti-k-vlasti-avtoritetov/).
Further, there are ever more reports that the Ingush protests are generating an echo elsewhere, including far beyond the North Caucasus and including even among some in Karelia (rusmonitor.com/cepnaya-reakciya-regionalnykh-konfliktov-na-kavkaze-prodolzhaetsya.html and stolicaonego.ru/read/my-zhivem-pod-soboju-ne-chuja-strany/).
Perhaps most serious of all as an indication of where things are heading as a result of the continuing protests in Ingushetia, now in their 12th day with no sign of ending, are two commentaries from Moscow. One, by Dmitry Steshin, suggests that it is time to think about letting the North Caucasus become independent (svpressa.ru/politic/article/213185/).
Such an action won’t spark a new “parade of sovereignties” across the Russian Federation or even necessarily win support in the region given how much money Moscow has poured it. But it is time to think about not “feeding the Caucasus” any more, a position that he implies ever more Russians share.
And a second by Russian nationalist writer Aleksandr Prokhanov called on the Kremlin to end its refusal to get involved with the crisis. Local elites can’t solve the problem; Putin could, he says. But for some reason, the Kremlin leader isn’t focusing on what Prokhanov calls “the imperial horizontal” (zavtra.ru/blogs/imperskaya_gorizontal).
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