Staunton, April 7 – Moscow appears to be using the pandemic as a cover for sending in more troops into the North Caucasus from other parts of the Russian Federation, an action the authorities have denied but reports of which have sparked anger because it is a sign of distrust and because the central government is paying these siloviki five times as much as local ones.
Magomed Mutsolgov, the head of the MASHR human rights group, posted what he said was an order sending in outside troops because of the pandemic. The Russian interior ministry denied his article although it was unclear exactly what it was denying – the dispatch of troops, distrust as the reason, or their higher pay (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/348013/).
This exchange prompted the Kavkaz-Uzel news agency to survey four experts about this story (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/348054/). Gennady Gudkov, a former FSB officer and former Duma deputy, says he is surprised about the pay differential. Moscow often pays two or three times as much as normal for hazardous duty but not five times.
He suggested that such pay differences will only add to tensions between siloviki from other parts of the Russian Federation and those from the North Caucasus, especially because the latter will see this as a sign that Moscow and its representatives don’t trust them to do their jobs under difficult conditions.
Sergey Goncharov, the head of the International Association of Alpha Counter-Terrorism Veterans, says that this difference in pay doesn’t mean that Moscow doesn’t trust the local people but rather that it views service in an area with higher rates of infection as dangerous work and is compensating its officers for that.
Magomed Shamilov, head of Daghestan’s Independent Union of Law Enforcement and Prosecutorial Employees, says that there is “no need” to send in outside personnel. He adds that if Moscow doesn’t trust local officers, it should rotate them to other parts of the country rather than send Russians into the region.
And Aleksandr Perendzhiyev, a member of the Experts Council of Officers of Russia, says that the greater pay is designed to make such assignments attractive to Russian professional soldiers, although he said that usually such inducements are limited to doubling pay rather than increasing it by a factor of five.
Meanwhile, lawyers for Barak Chemurziyev, an Ingush activist who has been incarcerated for more than a year and whom Memorial has labelled a political prisoner, filed an appeal with a Russian appellate court saying that the court of first instance had made numerous errors and ignored exculpatory evidence (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/348010/).
And Mussa Zurabov, a member of the Council of Teips, released a Youtube video declaring that “the Ingush will demand their rights whether the powers that be like it or not” (youtu.be/s0GXrZT5xUQfortanga.org/2019/04/mussa-zurabov-ingushi-budut-trebovat-svoi-prava-nravitsya-eto-vlasti-ili-net/