Thursday, July 8, 2021

Will the September Parliamentary Elections Break the Cycle of Ingush Activism and Quietism?

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 3 – The three upsurges in civic activism in Ingushetia since the end of Soviet times have not been connected with elections but with other factors, and many signs suggest that the September parliamentary elections will not be any different, that they will not lead to a further mobilization of civil society there but to its retreat.

            But Portal Six commentator Akhmed Buzurtanov suggests that there is at least a chance that this time will be different. On the one hand, most of the active members of Ingush society are now opposed to United Russia and the way in which its members have ignored the interests of the people (новый-цикл-политической-активности-и/).

            And on the other, the experience of the most recent upsurge in civic activism over the border accord that led people into the streets in 2018 and 2019 and the fact that the leaders of that movement are still in jails or courtrooms means that those opposed to the Kremlin party have resources in the population they did not have earlier.

            Moscow and Magas have done everything they can to promote the idea among Ingush that there is no reason to struggle over the elections because the results are pre-ordained; and many Ingush do accept that. But at the same time, Buzurtanov says, there is one change the powers that be cannot overcome.

            And that is this: the republic parliament played a key role in the fight over the land deal with Yunus-Bek Yevkurov and Chechnya’s Ramzan Kadyrov; and consequently, Ingush to this day recognize that the composition of the republic parliament matters profoundly if their nation is to defend itself.

            In the last republic parliamentary election, many Ingush did not vote at all; but this time around, they are likely to vote; and it is entirely possible that they will protest if as seems likely the powers that be engage in massive falsification in order to ensure that United Russia has a constitutional majority in the republic legislature.

            The Ingush people are very much aware on the basis of their recent experience that Moscow and Magas will use all their coercive resources to try to crush any protests about the election. But what is uncertain is whether such actions this time around will work or whether such repression will have the unintended effect of leading to a new round of public activism.

            Buzurtanov does not say directly, but clearly behind his question is another one: Will Moscow and Magas wrap up the trial of the Ingush Seven before the elections, something almost certain to spark a new round of protests, or will it delay it yet again, leading to a growth in anger that will power demonstrations at some point in the future?


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