Staunton, August 30 – Unexpectedly, Makhmud-Ali Kalimatov appeared before Ingush Popular Assembly and declared that his predecessor had left Ingushetia in dire straits (6portal.ru/posts/хватит-ли-у-калиматова-духу-чтобы-нача/ and fortanga.org/2019/08/ne-obnadezhivayushhaya-vstrecha-vrio-kalimatova-s-deputatami-narodnogo-sobraniya-ri/).
But the acting head of the republic who is expected to be easily confirmed as permanent one September 8 focused entirely on economic issues and refused to be drawn into any discussion of the issues agitating most Ingush: the border agreement, the arrest of numerous activists and the restoration of direct popular elections for the chief executive of the republic.
Kalimatov said his own immediate task was to restore order in the republic and to achieve what Yevkurov and his government promised but did not. Their claims about social and economic successes, Kalimatov continued, were “nothing more than fictions.” As a result, the republic economy is in truly disastrous shape.
The republic head devoted particular attention to the republic’s rising state debt – today Moscow reported, Ingushetia saw the highest increase in state debt of any federal subject during the first half of 2019 (fortanga.org/2019/08/gosudarstvennyj-dolg-regionov-rf-sokrashhaetsya-no-ne-v-ingushetii/).
He promised to root out corruption in order to overcome the situation. Exactly how he plans to do this, Anton Chablin said in his Portal 6 commentary, remains unclear. The North Caucasus specialist said Kalimatov’s failure to talk about the issues agitating Ingush was unfortunate, but his criticism of Yevkurov is welcome.
What remains to be seen is whether Kalimatov has the strength to go after Yevkurov holdovers within the government, a group that constitutes at least half of all the people there and one that remains in large measure supportive of Yevkurov’s approach, according to Chablin who clearly has his doubts.
The most important thing this story suggests is that the Kremlin may have gotten rid of Yevkurov less because of the protests his land deal with Chechnya provoked than his economic failures, something the powers that be in Moscow care far more about than about demonstrations and their suppression.