Thursday, June 27, 2019

Thanks to Yevkurov, ‘A Unique North Caucasian Civil Society has Emerged in Ingushetia,’ Kalachev Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 25 – Yunus-Bek Yevkurov may have left office because of the protests against him, Moscow commentator Konstantin Kalachev says. But it was because of his approach over more than a decade that “a unique North Caucasian civil society” emerged there, one that both his successor and Moscow will have to take into consideration.

            Ingush “went to meetings which no one dispersed by force,” the head of the Political Expert Group says; and consequently, that has created expectations which it will be very difficult for Yevkurov’s successor to ignore. “The meetings which became the end of his career will continue” even though he has left (

            The most interesting question now, Kalachev says, is “how will the residents of Ingushetia, who have felt themselves to be free, construct relations with the federal authorities because they understand perfectly well that the problem [that they face] is not Yevkurov” but the Putin system.

            “Yevkurov’s successor must show that he can be not only the driver of development [which is what the Kremlin wants] but also a lobbyist who will defend the interests of Ingushetia. And in relations with North Ossetia and Chechnya he must show himself to be the defender of the people which he has been assigned to head.”

            Kalachev’s observation is confirmed by the 500-word declaration the Ingush Committee for National Unity, which has been the leader of the protests against Yevkurov and his border accord with Chechnya’s Ramzan Kadyrov, issued in reaction to Yevkurov’s resignation (

            “Ingush society views with satisfaction the news about the retirement of the head of the Republic, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov,” it begins, and “assesses this as being the result of the attention to the problems of the region at the level of the highest leadership of the country, President of Russia V.V. Putin.

            “We consider that such an important decision by itself speaks to the readiness of the federal center, albeit not quickly to listen to the aspirations of its citizens, in this case of an entire people in a particular subject of the country.

            “The Ingush people in its most recent history has passed through serious tests. In the course of the last ten months, the actions of the leadership of the republic have gone beyond its accustomed levels of corruption and finally manifested its clearly anti-popular character which was shown in the singing of the criminal Agreement with the Chechen Republic about the transfer to ti of a significant part of the territory of Ingushetia bypassing the opinion of the people and violating all the constitutional norms and laws of the Russian Federation and also in the attempt to introduce a bill which would allow without referendum the adoption of any decision on basic principles without consulting the people.

            “In response too the attempts of society to get to the bottom of what as happening, the republic government used all administrative resources, drew into this political game the force structures, and widely unleashed a propaganda wave in the media under its control. Those who were brave enough to call the authorities of Ingushetia to account for these illegal actions were subjected to repression.

            “The reaction of the residents of the republic did not take long to manifest itself -- in October-November 2018 and then in March 2019, thousands’ strong meetings of protest occurred during which the people of Ingushetia gave their harsh assessment of the actions of  Yunus-Bek Yevkurov and the members of his command. From the mouths of the protesters, ever larger sounded demands for his immediate retirement.

            “In response to such a turn of events, the powers that be  not only did not try to begin dialogue with the people but unleashed against the leaders of the protest in the full sense of this word state terror which resulted in the lodging of dozens of criminal cases, hundreds of fines, searches, firings from jobs, mass detentions of opposition figures, and in particular cases threats toward the families of civic activists.

            “Many offices of civic organizations were closed, and at the demand of the justice ministry the activities of such a representative organ as the Union of Teips of the Ingush People were stopped. Strong pressure was put on religious leaders and business who were suspected of sympathy for those taking part in the protests.

            “Today, about 30 of the most active participants of the protest are under arrest and on trumped up charges continue to be held in the detention centers of neighboring regions.  Among them are as well -respected representatives of the elders of the republic. We categorically condemn this arbitrary action of the authorities and demand the immediate, objective and public review of their cases.

“Given Yunus-Bek Yevkurov’s retirement, their continued illegal detention does not have any sense. Such a step by the Kremlin to a significant degree would allow the situation in the republic to become less tense by showing a readiness for constructive dialogue and a way out of the dead end of the clash between the powers and the people to which Ingushetia was driven by the actions of the no former head of Ingushetia.

“We hope that in addition the demands of the people of Ingushetia that its right to independently select its leaders to state organs of power via open popular election will be heard.

“We are counting on the idea that the new head of the republic will be able to correctly assess the existing situation and together with his people begin to resolve the social-political and social-economic problems left by his predecessor.”

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