Staunton, April 17 – For three weeks without letup, the regime of Yunus-Bek Yevkurov has been repressing the Ingush opposition, harassing, detaining, charging, fining and keeping incarcerated many who have taken part in the protests. Some of the latter may have been intimidated, but young people are increasingly angry and radicalizing, experts say.
Indeed, there is such a danger that this could lead to explosions, possibly under Islamist slogans, that some senior political figures are calling for talks between Yevkurov and the opposition and Yevkurov is taking extraordinary steps to quash rumors that he is about to give away more of the republic’s territory, the original cause of the protests.
Irina Starodubrovskaya, a specialist on the North Caucasus at Moscow’s Gaidar Institute, says that it may be possible for Yevkurov to intimidate enough people to gain at least a breathing space and even to claim victory over the opposition. But that is not the only scenario and perhaps not the most likely (svpressa.ru/politic/article/230422/).
She says that “a much more dangerous variant” is possible, one in which young people, who have been left leaderless as a result of the arrests of the more senior protest organizers, may become radicalized in response to the repressions. “If radicalization really begins,” she says, “it will most likely take place under religious slogans.”
Most young Ingush are not enamored with the current set of Muslim leaders, polls taken among them show, Starodubrovskaya continues. As a result, “there is a demand for a new religious leader whom young people would be prepared to follow. If such a leader appears, that would make the scenario of Islamic radicalization real.”
This threat of radicalization is driving two other developments. On the one hand, Alikhan Kharsiyev, who represents the republic in the Duma, says that repressions are only making the situaiton more difficult and that the authorities in Magas need to begin to negotiate with the opposition (onkavkaz.com/news/2462-dlja-stabilizacii-v-ingushetii-zaderzhannym-nado-menjat-meru-presechenija-a-vlasti-nachinat-per.html).
And on the other, Yevkurov is personally denying rumors he is about to hand over land to North Ossetia and has sent an official to the region to squelch them (zamanho.com/?p=6486 and ingushetia.ru/news/yu_evkurov_peredachu_chasti_territorii_ingushetii_ne_planirovali_i_ne_budut_planirovat/).
But many Ingush are reportedly skeptical of Yevkurov’s denials. After all, until he gave Chechnya 26,000 hectares to Chechnya after secret talks with Ramzan Kadyrov, Yevkurov had always denied that he would ever give up any land to any of the republic’s neighbors. (For an example of a typical Yevkurov denial, see ria.ru/20130313/927133054.html.)