Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Chaika Refuses to Discuss Ingush Border Dispute or Status of Protesters Against It

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 19 – At a meeting with a carefully assembled group of leaders of Ingushetia’s informal organizations but not those directly involved in the protest movement, Yuri Chaika, the new presidential plenipotentiary for the North Caucasus, refused to discuss either the border accord with Chechnya or the state of those now in detention for protesting against it.

            The plenipotentiary said that those issues were beyond his competence and that while he would listen to complaints about them, he would not respond because he is not in a position to do anything about them (fortanga.org/2020/02/predstaviteli-obshhestvennosti-ingushetii-vstretilis-s-polpredom-po-skfo-yuriem-chajkoj/).

            Some of the participants felt he was being more open than his predecessor Aleksandr Matovnikov but others were obviously less than pleased especially when he suggested that corruption in Ingushetia was just as bad as in Daghestan and would not address the problems of cadre policy in Ingushetia, including the use of outsiders rather than indigenous people.

            In short, at that meeting, as apparently at his two other sessions in Magas, one with republic head Makhmud-Ali Kalimatov and a second with a group of “ordinary” but obviously carefully chosen representatives of the citizenship, Chaika was willing to listen but not willing or able to take action in the ways the Ingush people want.

            Meanwhile, there were developments in two court cases. In the first, investigators have convinced Oleg Kozlovsky, who was investigating torture in Ingushetia, to take a polygraph test regarding his charge that he was kidnapped to prevent him from doing his investigation (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/346091/  and  ortanga.org/2020/02/delo-o-pohishhenii-v-magase-pravozashhitnika-kozlovskogo-pochti-ne-rassleduetsya/).

            And in the second, experts reported that there was no evidence of the presence of drugs that siloviki said they had found on Fortanga journalist Rashid Maysigov even though it was their report that became the basis of the legal proceedings that continue against him (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/346075/).

            But neither they nor any other defendant in these cases is likely to be exonerated. New statistics show that over the past year, Ingush judges have found only seven of the hundreds of people charged with crimes in that North Caucasus republic innocent (gazetaingush.ru/news/za-minuvshiy-god-v-ingushetii-sudy-opravdali-sem-chelovek-v-ramkah-ugolovnyh-del).

            There was yet another curious development in Magas, one whose full meaning is far from clear. Officials had posted a map online which mistakenly showed several Ingush villages to be in Chechnya and North Ossetia. After residents protested, the officials withdrew the maps and issued corrections (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/346108/).

            Given that it was a border change that is behind the wave of protests in Ingushetia and given that even mistakes in maps can lead to problems as has happened along the Chechen-Daghestani border, it is surprising that such “a mistake” would have been made. But it appears that in this case, that is exactly what has occurred given the speed with which officials backed down. 

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