Sunday, September 27, 2020

Kalimatov has Compounded Yevkurov’s Betrayal of Ingushetia, Activists Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 26 – Today is the second anniversary of former Ingushetia head Yunus-Bek Yevkurov’s giving away 10 percent of the republic’s territory in a secret deal he made with Chechen head Ramzan Kadyrov and that sparked months of protests against Yevkurov, Kadyrov, and Moscow which supported the agreement.

            Yevkurov made things worse for the republic and ultimately for himself by lying about what he had done, avoiding holding a referendum as required by the republic constitution, and arresting some of the thousands of Ingush who went into the streets between the date of the accord and the mass protest at the end of March 2019.

            These protests ultimately forced Yevkurov to resign, but his replacement, Makhmud-Ali Kalimatov, an ethnic Ingush but someone who had worked in a Russian regime, compounded Yevkurov’s actions as far as many Ingush are concerned by not seeking the release of those detained and not showing any willingness to meet with Ingush society.

            As a result, September 26 which Ingush activists now call “The Day of the Traitors” is about his betrayal of the republic as well (; and increasingly Ingush are inclined to blame Moscow for their woes because the central Russian government has backed Kalimatov’s slavish deference to the Kremlin.

            As Fortanga commentator Ruslan Beytman puts it, there have been many “traitors” to Ingushetia both within the republic and beyond. “Unfortunately. But, at the same time, we have learned the names of real heroes” who have defended Ingushetia even as some of them remain behind bars (

            Those and the others who had the courage to go into the streets to back the Moscow-installed and supported regime in Magas were in many ways more remarkable than the residents of Khabarovsk. The Ingush who did so knew that Moscow would not hold back in unleashing repression as it more or less has in that Far Eastern Russian city.

            The Ingush knew what they were likely to be confronted with, and they went into the streets anyway to defend their rights and defend their republic. “A time will come,” he says, when the Ingush people will carry out an act of lustration against those who took part in the treason of Yevkurov and its backing by Kalimatov.”

            According to Beytman, “he who laughs last laughs best.”

            Many Ingush leaders still in freedom have written about the September 2018 deal, underlining just how important the maintenance of borders and of constitutional rights is for them. But local attorney Magomed Aushev more than anyone else has talked about why Ingush now view Kalimatov and Moscow just as negatively as they did Yevkurov at the end.

            “Kalimatov has done absolutely nothing for the liberation of the political prisonersd and in general has not conducted any dialogue with Ingush society,” he says. Worse, the siloviki under Kalimatov have been unleashed and use physical abuse against young people (

            According to Aushev, Moscow sent Kalimatov to do its bidding. The republic head’s plans to disband the republic’s Constitutional Court is just the first step. He will also move against the republic constitution, the national language, and quite possibly prove to be the willing gravedigger of Ingushetia as such.

            It is already obvious that he wants to make the republic as meaningless as possible, and one cannot “exclude the possibility that he has been given the task of liquidating the status of Ingushetia as a separate republic” either completely or by subsuming it within Chechnya, which would amount to the same thing.

            There have not been any positive changes in Ingushetia over the last two years in any sector, Aushev says. Unemployment is up, people are fleeing, and the Ingush nation is the poorest in the country.  Clearly all hopes notwithstanding, “the attitude of the federal center toward Ingushetia hasn’t changed.”

            “The federal center viewed us in the past as Papuans and they consider us that now,” people without rights whom Moscow can treat as it wants. Outsiders are replacing Ingush in the Interior Ministry and FSB because “the federals don’t trust the Ingush and think that they aren’t capable of running things on their own.”

            These outsiders, because of their ignorance of local conditions often make things worse, Aushev continues. They are like “an elephant in a china shop!” And the ambitious young guys who come in figure the best way to make a career and be promoted to somewhere else is to be as tough as possible to the Ingush.

            To the extent large numbers of Ingush feel the same way, the republic’s current quiet is deceptive. What the situation is really like, Aushev and others say, is a tightly coiled spring that will at some point expand and change everything around it. 

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