Staunton, March 17 – Nearly six months after Yunus-Bek Yevkurov and Ramzan Kadyrov signed the agreement handing over 26,000 hectares of Ingush land to Chechnya, the Ingush people are asking a question they did not ask during the protests that followed that accord: why did the two republic leaders who had kept their distance before suddenly come together?
Until the September agreement, Chechnya’s Kadyrov “tried in every possible way to keep his distance from Ingushetia’s Yevkurov, the Fortanga portal in Ingushetia points out, noting that “there were reasons for this,” even though the heads of two Vaynakh republics would have been close (fortanga.org/2019/03/ruzhe-ubilo-odnogo-a-yazyk-devyateryh/#more-2569).
Because their peoples were so closely related and because they have both suffered such difficult times since the early 1990s, Janai Tashmaruko says, one might have expected them to find a cooperate. But “practically from the first days of the coming to power” of Yevkurov, their relations were not good. And the person responsible for that was the Ingush leader.
In 2009, shortly after Ramzan Kadyrov came to power, Yevkurov gave an interview to the Moscow media in which he complained about the spread of drugs, prostitution and crime from Chechnya to Ingushetia. Kadyrov was outraged and so Yevkurov’s words as directed not just as himself but at all Chechens. He wasn’t going to forget this.
Over the ensuing years, Kadyrov attacked Yevkurov and Ingushetia and sought his revenge, the Fortanga commentator says. And the exchange of words escalated as each attacked the other. Then the situation became worse when Kadyrov sent his forces in 2013 into Ingush territory, something no Ingush could forget or forgive.
That explains why the two men were so far apart; it doesn’t explain why they came together in September 2018. The reason lies, Tashmaruko says, in the following: Kadyrov was very well aware that Yevkurov was deeply unpopular at home and that Kadyrov even had means to make the situation worse for him.
To prevent that from happening, Yevkurov made what he thought was a deal that would win him protection for a time, but that deal with Kadyrov had the effect of sending his popular support at home down even further. “Kadyrov wanted to punish Yevkurvo, and he was able to do this;” but the Chechen leader miscalculated in one respect.
Kadyrov did not recognize that his humiliation of Yevkurov also humiliated the Ingush people – and they are not going to forgive him or Yevkurov for what was agreed to. The ancestors of the Ingush understood all this when they said that “a gun can kill one man but words can kill dozens.” Both Yevkurov and Kadyrov are learning the truth of that the hard way.