Staunton, April 6 – Russian siloviki have placed under arrest most of the leading opposition figures in Ingushetia and have now introduced sufficient forces into that North Caucasus republic to garrison and patrol all the major cities and many of the most important roads (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2019/04/04/80097-vzryvoopasnye-sovpadeniya).
But the opposition maintains steadfast, with one continuing his hunger strike, with the republic ombudsman challenging the way in which the authorities are detaining people, and with Ingush across Europe holding demonstrations in support of the opposition and repeating its demand that Yunus-Bek Yevkurov must be fired and the border accord with Chechnya annulled.
(For details on all these developments, see kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/326282/ kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/333956/ and capost.media/news/society/v-evrope-proshli-mitingi-v-podderzhku-oppozitsionerov-iz-ingushetii/.)
There are also other indications that the situation is deteriorating toward violence even if Moscow and its agents in place appear to be in total control. On the one hand, one of the largest teips in Ingushetia, a powerful force, warned Yevkurov that he and his brothers would be held personally responsible if things went bad (graniru.org/Politics/Russia/Regions/m.275853.html).
And perhaps most important, Yevkurov’s own bodyguard resigned to protest his former boss’s policies, an indication that the republic head and his regime has internal divisions despite the support it has from Moscow and the Russian force structures (fortanga.org/2019/04/ohrannik-evkurova-uvolilsya-iz-solidarnosti-s-narodom/).
Yekurov and Moscow clearly believe, Anton Chablin, a regional expert, says in a commentary for the Caucasus Post that they can “’force the opposition to peace.’” But they may very well turn out to be wrong because “the stronger the pressure of the authorities on civil society, the more difficult it will be to start talks” – and only a dialogue can end this crisis without losses (capost.media/special/sobytiya/ingushetiya_oppozitsiyu_prinuzhdayut_k_miru).
“Why have people in Ingushetia forgotten this truth?” the commentator asks rhetorically. And why do the authorities there think that acting as if everything is normal will work? Yevkurov goes along with his business as if there were no protests and were no soldiers in the streets. But it is obvious to everyone that things are getting out of hand, Chablin says.
So far the mainstream media’s silence of the developments in Ingushetia that both Yevkurov and Putin are working to maintain has worked, the analyst suggests. But that will come to an end this weekend and next. This Sunday, the Ingush diaspora will hold meetings in Helsinki and Brussels; next Sunday, another is planned for Stockholm.
The protesters at these meetings will have two demands; the end to repression in Ingushetia and the ouster of Yevkurov. Soon it will be impossible to avoid having articles appear in Europe and the Wests more generally pointing out the obvious: Yevkurov is trying to be every bit as much “’the Caucasus dictator’” everyone thinks Ramzan Kadyrov is.
That may save him for a while, but it will make him too toxic even for Putin to hold onto, especially if the Kremlin leader won’t or can’t sending Chechnya’s Kadyrov packing.