Sunday, June 30, 2019

New Ingush Appointment Marks Less a Shift in Moscow’s Approach than It Appears, Magomedov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 28 – For the first time, Moscow has arranged to have installed in Ingushetia an official who does not spring from the security services, something that gives hope that Makhmud-Ali Kalimatov may represent a departure from the Kremlin’s view that only those from the force structures can control the situation in the region, Ruslan Magomedov says.

            But the situation is not as simple as it appears. On the one hand, Kalimatov is more connected with the security services and force structures than many now think, the Daghestani commentator says; and on the other, the issues he will be forced to address will involve those structures whatever anyone now thinks (

             “The appointment of Yunus-Bek Yevkurov in distant 2008 as head of Ingushetia was completely within the framework of those stereotypes which the Kremlin has been guided when dealing with the problems of the North Caucasus,” Magomedov says.  Moscow has believed that republic heads must be from the siloviki and able to establish order by the use of force.

            Another important criterion for Moscow is that any new head must not be part of the Caucasus clans and teips, structures the center fears, but rather stand above and apart from them so that he can act as arbiter.  Ideally such people must be a former FSB officer, but someone with a military background will do.

            Yevkurov as a military intelligence officer and a hero of Russia for his role at Prishtina fit this pattern and was viewed from the outset as an ideal governor general, Magomedov continues.  He also continued this pattern in Ingushetia, both his predecessors, Murat Zyazikov and Ruslan Aushev were military men. 

            But what is striking is another parallel, the Makhachkala commentator continues. Yevkurov like Zyazikov was welcomed initially but failed because he got involved in the border question and thus created a situation in his own republic that he could not control and that forced his departure. 

            What is both instructive and worrisome, Magomedov says, is that when Putin and Yevkurov spoke, there was “not a word mentioned about what was the true cause of the departure of the head of Ingushetia into retirement,” the issue of the borders of the republic with its neighbors.

            There were at least two siloviki candidates to succeed him: Ruslan Sultygov, the deputy commander of the Volga District Russian Guard and Anor Dzhambulatov, the deputy head of the FSB for Chechnya.  But instead, Moscow picked Kalimatov who has never been directly involved in siloviki affairs but is closely linked to them professionally and by family ties.

            These include his brother and other relatives and thus make him less different from Yevkurov than many now think, Magomedov suggests.  Consequently, he may act more in the tradition of his predecessors than many in Ingushetia now assume.

            The Daghestani commentator says that the change in Ingushetia has had one broader consequence that must be recognized. It has probably saved Vladimir Vasilyev’s position in Daghestan.  It is obvious that Moscow wants to replace him too but doesn’t want to do so when problems in another republic are so obviously still at the boiling point.

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