Vienna, September 3 – Former FSB general and current Ingushetia head Murat Zyazikov is likely to respond to protests against his rule following the death of Magomed Yevloyev at the hands of his security forces with “a new Andizhan,” a crushing blow that will intimidate the opposition and leave Moscow no choice but to support him to the hilt.
That conclusion, with its reference to Uzbek President Islam Karimov’s suppression of demonstrations in his country in MY 2005, is offered by Yuliya Latynina, a distinguished Russian journalist who has specialized in recent years on the North Caucasus, in an analysis published today in Moscow’s “Yezhednevniy zhurnal” (www.ej.ru/?a=note&id=8372).
“After the murder of Magomed Yevloyev,” Latynina says, “the legal Ingush opposition found itself in the same position that [Georgian President] Mikhail Saakashvili did the evening of [August] 7.” It is did nothing, it would lose face and trust; if it responded, “it would call forth a crushing blow.”
The Ingush opposition has responded, and consequently, she argues, “it is completely possible that this will end” with Zyazikov employing massive and lethal force against it, “a new Andizhan.” That will intimidate law-abiding Ingush but give a new boost to militants like Rustamat Makhauri and Magas.
. In other comments, Latynina dismisses two other arguments that some have made in recent days. On the one hand, she suggests that “Ingushetia is too small a republic to blow up [because] it does not have a critical mass.” If it is destroyed completely, “no one in the world will even notice.”
And on the other, she says that those who argue that Moscow’s recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia opens “a Pandora’s box” in the North Caucasus where other republics may seek to follow suit. But independence she says, is not won “by the invocation of precedents” but by those who “take up arms.”
At the same time, she continues, “the destabilization of the Caucasus” since the Georgian events reflects a fundamental divide in the Russian Federation. As a country, “Russia needs peace [there], but the siloviki need stars and power,” something they can only win by stirring up trouble and engaging in more violent acts.
Moreover, she adds, “the contemporary Russian model of power is so constructed that those in power can do anything – from the most familiar things like corruption to the most exotic like loss of control over the territory of a republic.” In this situation, the real criminals are not those who take bribes or assist in murders but those who have made this system possible.
In this situation, Latynina concludes, Zyazikov should not be viewed as “the hand of Moscow.” Instead, “Moscow and the Kremlin have become [his] hostages. There is nothing that he might do that Moscow would not be forced to approve.” He knows that, and consequently the immediate future in Ingushetia looks dire indeed.
Latynina’s comments and her reference to Andizhan will attract more attention to a statement by a 27-year-old former officer of the Uzbekistan National Security Service upon his defection in London (www.rferl.org/content/Former_Uzbek_Spy_Seeks_Asylum/1195372.html picked up by kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2008/09/03/60745.shtml).
According to Ikram Yabukov, Islam Karimov personally gave the order for the use of lethal force in Andizhan which left 1500 protesters there dead, the most dramatic of the Uzbek president’s actions against his own people and the one that prompted him to move abroad, hopefully beyond the reach of Karimov’s agents.
And Latynina’s words, which are always attended to by Western correspondents, should also have the effect of calling attention to the latest act of desperation by the people of Ingushetia in the face of Zyazikov’s increasing willingness to use force to preserve himself in power (www.ingushetiya.ru/news/15420.html).
Late yesterday, the Ingush opposition issued an appeal to the leaders of Germany, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan and Canada to grant them citizenship so they might enjoy what protections that might offer against new threats from Zyazikov and his force structures.
In making their appeal, the Ingush opposition said that the deteriorating situation in their republic “requires immediate intervention by the international community.” If that does not happen, then “the political murders, the suppression of independent thinking, and attacks on the rights and freedoms of citizens of the Russian Federation will acquire a threatening character.”
And the Ingush appeal concluded in what seems to be an act of despair rather than real hope that “the world must finally recognize that today a new authoritarian regime is being constructed in Russia, one for which there do not exist such concepts as human rights and the freedoms of its citizens.”