Sunday, March 29, 2020

On Anniversary of 2019 Protests, Tensions in Ingushetia Remain High and are Rising, Experts Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 26 – One year ago today and tomorrow, the Ingush people went into the streets to demand the removal of then-republic head Yunus-Bek Yevkurov for his land deal with Chechnya and his refusal to meet with them. He and Moscow responded with force. Hundreds were detained and more than 30 remain behind bars.

            But those actions, instead of calming the situation, led to Yevkurov’s own departure have only deepened the divide between the Ingush people, on the one hand, and Magas and behind it Moscow on the other. Indeed, tensions in that North Caucasus republic continue to rise, four experts tell Anton Chablin (эксперты-шестого-о-последствиях-ма/).

            Ilya Grashchenkov, head of the Center for the Development of Regional Policy, says that Moscow mishandled the situation because it was incapable of being an honest broker between the Ingush and the Ingush head given that the Kremlin had all too obviously taken the side of Chechnya in the land deal.

            That has only exacerbated feelings among the Ingush, he continues, adding that he knows many Ingush “in Moscow and other cities who have successful businesses [who] are ready to throw family and finances over and go to Ingushetia and offer armed resistance to those who want to take their land.”

            Given the strength of family and clan in Ingushetia, the arrest of their leaders has caused popular anger to grow and led to “a decline in the authority of the federal authorities.” At the same time, Grashchenkov says, the current republic head Kalimatov faces increasing problems as well.

            The crisis thus has not been overcome. And the decision of the powers to “tighten the screws” and “ignore the population” is only making the situation worse.

            Saida Sirazhudinova, head of the Caucasus. World. Development Center, says that the authorities decision a year ago to use force against the protesters and the continued incarceration of demonstration leaders has only increased the anger of the Ingush people. What it has done instead is shift their anger from the land deal alone to anger at the government as such.

            Timur Uzhakov, an instructor at the International Innovation University, argues that the strategy of the authorities, Magas and Moscow alike, has failed because it has focused on symptoms rather than underlying causes, on the number of people in the streets as opposed to their demand to become part of the decision-making process.

            That approach, he says, has only consolidated the population in opposition to the powers that be.  By their repressive actions, the authorities are only driving the problem even deeper into the national consciousness of the Ingush people.

            And Irina Staodubrovskaya, an economist at Moscow’s Gaidar Institute, says the authorities likely think they have succeeded because there have not been any mass protests in the last year; but whatever success they have had in that regard, she argues, has been “counter-productive.”

            During a recent visit to Ingushetia, she says, she was “shocked by the total disappointment of the people in any governmental power, regional or federal … People have finally stopped believing that it is possible to expect from either legality or justice.” As a result, the anger will grow and burst out, possibly seriously destabilizing the situation.

            Meanwhile, a Russian court ignored the protests of Daud Mamilov’s lawyers and extended the detention of the son of an independent-minded republic deputy. He will now be held on charges of belonging to a terrorist organization until at least mid-June (

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