Vienna, August 11 – Citing opposition forces, Moscow’s “Gazeta” reports today that 1300 officers of the interior ministry forces in Ingushetia – more than 10 percent of the total – have turned in their resignations in recent days to protest the policies and practices of republic head Murat Zyazikov.
On the one hand, the paper says, the officers are angry that they are increasingly assigned the task of breaking up protest meetings and attacking representatives of the opposition. And on the other, many of them feel “completely defenseless” in the face of the increasing number of attacks by Islamist groups (www.gzt.ru/society/2008/08/10/223020.html).
According to one Ingush opposition leader, Magomed Yevloyev, the situation has become so bad that entire units have refused to obey orders to engage in one kind of operation or another, even when threatened with immediate punishments of various kinds or the deprivation of the pensions they have earned to date.
Not surprisingly, Ingush interior ministry officials deny all such reports. Minister Musa Medov said that “these rumors are being spread about by those provocateurs, slanders and supporters of terrorists” who “are interested in sowing troubles” in Ingushetia. For such people, he said, “the worse things are here, the more they like it.”
There is no way to confirm the exact number of officers who are insubordinate or are now resigning their positions, but there is some evidence that the Ingush government and Moscow behind it are acting in ways that suggest the number of officers involved may be significant.
(Keeping track of these developments and checking on official claims may soon become more difficult as well: tomorrow another Russian court will hold a hearing on Zyazikov’s effort to close the independent Internet news portal, Ingushetiya.ru. In a related development, that site’s editor asked for political asylum in France (www.ingushetiya.ru/news/15114.html).)
A few weeks ago, the Zyazikov regime, backed by Moscow, introduced what it called Plan Fortress, a program under the terms of which all city an district interior ministry departments, the building of the interior ministry itself, and other militia installations were put under “heightened guard” (www.sobkorr.ru/news/489C5D4FDF599.html).
To make that happen, the Russian government had to introduce internal troops and militia units from other parts of the Russian Federation, an incontrovertible indication of the deteriorating situation in Ingushetia and plausible evidence that Zyazikov can no longer rely on his own interior ministry officers.
Such decay in a key state control agency would be disturbing in any place at any time, but it must be especially worrisome to Moscow and to Nazran especially now in a place which had already become a leading “hot spot” in the Russian Federation and which now is just behind the Russian front in Georgia.