Saturday, June 29, 2019

Yevkurov’s Exit ‘Only the Beginning,’ Ingush Opposition Leaders Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 27 – As the celebrations in Ingushetia over the departure of Yunus-Bek Yevkurov have begun to die down, many of the leaders of that nation who opposed him are beginning to reflect about what must come next with the nearly unanimous view that his exit is “only the beginning” if that North Caucasus republic is to stabilize and move forward.

            The Fortanga news agency presents the views of five such people about what must be done next (

                Murad Daskiyev, head of the Union of Teips of the Ingush People, says Yevkurov’s departure will not solve the problems of the republic or even lead to stabilization especially if the federal authorities send to the republic ‘a new and even more incompetent leader.’”  According to him, Moscow should have acted earlier and avoided the tragedy of the last year.

            “Now, in order to stabilize the situation in the republic three important steps must be taken: the selection of a new leader via elections, the return of immemorial Ingush lands to the republic and people, and the liberation of political prisoners who were the organizers and participants of peaceful protest.”

            Fatima Albakova, a leader of the Russian Congress of Peoples of the Caucasus, agrees. Yevkurov’s departure is only a first step toward stabilization.  The Ingush people have been transformed by their conflict with the republic leadership and they will not sit still for more of the same.

            Visangirey Gagiyev, head of the Ingush National Autonomy of Moscow, says that there must be the reintroduction of elections for republic leaders at all levels. Otherwise the situation will remain tense, and no one individual must be allowed to have power over everything: there must be a balance of power within the regime.

            All political prisoners must be released, and all Ingush borders must be restored to where they were in 1991. Nothing less will do as a start, he continues. Then, the problems of corruption and economic stagnation will have to be addressed as well.

            Magomed Bekov, an Ingush lawyer, says that direction elections of the republic head must be restored. Just having Moscow replace one republic leader does not get at the problems the Ingush people face. Until there are such elections, “the situation will not change for the better.”

            And Zarif Sautiyev, a member of the Ingush Committee for National Unity, says “the demand for the return of direct elections is now very high.  “People are tired of having generals in power. We want to choose because an elected head will feel responsible to the people.” Even Yevkurov finally acknowledged that he failed because he did not pay attention to the Ingush.
            Sautiyev too called for the release of all political prisoners and the restoration of Ingushetia’s borders beginning with but not limited to the cancellation of the agreement Yevkurov made with Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov last September which gave away 26,000 hectares of Ingush land.

            Two specialists on the North Caucasus have already given their views on how Makhmud-Ali Kalimatov, Putin’s choice to head the republic, is likely to act and thus to fare ( Aslambek Paskachev of the Russian Congress of the Peoples of the Caucasus is moderately optimistic.

            According to him, Kalimatov understands the functions of the leader of a region, knows the situation in Ingushetia and isn’t tied to any one of the factions there.  He also said that Yevkurov’s departure had been correctly timed. If he had been sacked earlier, the situation in Ingushetia might have spun out of control. Now there is a chance for gradual change

            Enver Kisriyev, a political analyst who specializes on the region, is somewhat less optimistic. He says that he does not expect Kalimatov to change the composition of the republic government very much. Only those who were most closely associated with Yevkurov will have to leave and their departure will be gradual. 

            (Kalimatov for his part has already signaled that he doesn’t intend wholesale changes in the leadership, even though even Yevkurov said they probably are needed (, and

            An indication of what the Ingush national movement is likely to do next is provided by a declaration issued to the Ingush people by Musa Malsagov, the head of the Ingush Committee on National Unity.  He calls on them to focus on the upcoming September elections at the municipal level as a time to show the authorities the power of the people (

                Two other developments regarding Ingushetia over the last 24  hours are worthy of note: On the one hand, the Kremlin has signaled that it was not unhappy with Yevkurov’s approach but instead plans to give him a new position as deputy minister of defense, something other republic leaders will view a directive to take a hard line (

                And on the other, jailors in Vladikavkaz have refused to allow new attorneys for Malsag Uzhakhov and Akhmed Barakhoyev, two Ingush opposition leaders now being held until September 25  access to them to allow for the preparation of their defense despite Russian laws requiring that jailors give attorneys such access  (

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