Staunton, August 21 – With Yabloko and the Union of Teips urging a boycott of the September 8 municipal elections and with Makhmud-Ali Kalimatov having completely failed to reach out to the opposition, the situation in Ingushetia is likely to grow worse next month and have “a domino effect” on the rest of Russia, Fortanga commentator Semyon Tamantsev says.
That is because there are two key anniversaries in September: the first of the protests against the border accord with Chechnya and the 30th of the adoption by the Second Congress of the Ingush People of a resolution opening the way to independent Ingush statehood (fortanga.org/2019/08/vybor-ingushetii-bojkot-ili-natsionalnyj-dialog/).
“Today, the authorities of the Republic of Ingushetia and the federal center still have a historical chance, a window of opportunity, which must not be missed” if these anniversaries don’t become the occasion for the kind of demonstrations that will overwhelm the capacity of Magas and Moscow to cope with the situation.
There is actually very little that the authorities would have to do if they act now before September 8, the Fortanga commentator says. They need to “free the political prisoners, allow candidates from independent parties to run as candidates, and to put in place a procedure for national dialogue (a roundtable) with the opposition on territorial” and other questions.
The situation, unfortunately, is not promising. On the one hand, calls for a boycott are likely to be heeded because of tensions in the republic and the collapse in the ratings of the systemic parties among Ingush voters. If new candidates aren’t allowed, most Ingush will conclude there is no reason to vote.
And on the other, the regime plans to push through the approval of Makhmudov’s candidacy as republic head for a five-year term using the same deputies who in violation of the constitution approved Yevkurov’s handover of 26,000 hectares of Ingush land to Chechnya’s Ramzan Kadyrov.
While many had placed great hopes in Makhmudov when he replaced Yevkurov, those hopes have been dashed, Tamantsev says, because the new head has not talked about the border issue that has roiled the public life of Ingushetia for the last 12 months or recognized that “the only bearer of sovereignty and source of power is the people.”
If Makhmudov doesn’t change direction, the upcoming anniversaries could become the basis for massive protests of a size beyond his capacity to cope. And in that event, “the local problems of the smallest region of the Russian Federation will inevitably rise to the federal level and become part of the all-Russian protest agenda.”