Monday, September 24, 2007

Window on Eurasia: Ingush No Longer Feel Part of Russia, Duma Deputy Tells Putin

Paul Goble

Vienna, September 24 – The people of Ingushetia no longer feel themselves to be part of Russia because they believe Moscow has neglected them and is prepared to accept pleasant-sounding lies from local officials about their situation, according to the deputy chairman of the Duma Committee on Nationality Affairs.
In an open letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Bashir Kodzoyev outlines what he describes as “the profound political and economic crisis” now wracking Ingushetia as well as what he sees as the delusions of federal officials about what is occurring there (
Some of Kodzoyev’s complaints will be familiar to anyone who has been following the demonstrations, violence and arrests, false or otherwise, in that North Caucasus republic. But his public enumeration of them creates a devastating picture of a republic now out of control.
First, he says, the wave of kidnappings and disappearances that has swept Ingushetia in the last months has highlighted the fact that “our law enforcement and other executive branch agencies clearly do not want or are afraid to see [these things] as violations of law and human rights.”
Indeed, he says, “the impression has been created that the federal center is more pleased by false but brave speeches than by real facts.”
Second, Kodzoyev points to the functional collapse of the Ingushetian bureaucracy. According to his figures, the authorities in Ingushetia have not been paying the local police on a regular basis, and the latter are now owed billions of rubles.
Third, Kodzoyev notes, neither the local authorities nor federal officials have fulfilled their promises to address the problems of refugees in the republic. Fourth, neither have done much of anything to help the Ingush out of the deep economic depression they have found themselves in.
And fifth, he writes, corruption in Ingushetia is massive and continuing, running into the hundreds of millions of rubles every year since at least 2004 – and this despite his complaints and those of others knowledgeable about the situation in the republic to federal accounting and justice officials.
Kodzoyev’s charges and his suggestions that the Ingush are becoming ever more angry not only at their own republic government but also at Moscow are reinforced by two other articles that have appeared online in recent days.
In the first, Yuri Soshin of the Russian nationalist site describes what he calls “de-russification Ingush style.” Not only have the numbers of ethnic Russians fallen dramatically in Ingushetia since 1991 – from some 50,000 then to about 2500 now – the attitudes of the Ingush toward them have changed as well.
Because of the efforts of Islamist groups and the failure of the Ingush authorities to counter them, Soshin suggests, “anti-Russian and anti-Osetin attitudes are characteristic even for the pro-Russia part of society,” because the remaining “orientation toward Russia” reflects a desire for peace, quiet and personal economic well-being.”
But because the Russian and Ingush authorities have failed to act, he continues, the 40 percent of Ingush who were anti-Moscow at the end of the Soviet period have certainly become more numerous, while the 60 percent pro-Moscow Ingush then are certainly fewer (
And in the second of these articles, Orkhan Dzhemal, deputy editor of the journal “Smysl’,” argues that the failure of Moscow to develop an indigenous Ingush police form and the center’s willingness to rely on ethnic Russians and ethnic Osetins to try to control the situation is helping to destabilize things perhaps to the point of no return.
More significant still, he says, is the fact that “the Ingush situation shows that the involvement of federal forces does not provide a guarantee of the observation of any legal norms,” thus providing additional ammunition for Islamist radicals who argue that only Islamic norms can correct the situation.
In recent months, Dzhemal continues, “one ought not to say that the Chechens have begun to relate more positively toward Russians, but [at least] they have not become more negative” about either Moscow as a center of power or ethnic Russians as a core community of the state (
“But in Ingushetia, were the local people were until recently relatively positively inclined toward Russians, anti-Russian attitudes have begun to arise,” a development which makes the resolution of all issues, from the Osetin-Ingush clashes to those between Ingushetia and Moscow, far more difficult and problematic.


One writer, however, has a very different take: Stanislav Koval’ski suggests that Ingushetia is “an FSB special operation” and thus represents “a replay of ‘Black September 1999,’” a reference to the Moscow apartment bombings Putin exploited to “crack the whip” and win support (

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