Vienna, August 18 – Ingushetia President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov says that the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel are behind efforts to destabilize the North Caucasus but that they will not succeed and that region will remain part of the Russian Federation for more than the next 100 years.
In an interview published in yesterday’s “Komsomolskaya Pravda,” Yevkurov, who has just been released from a Moscow hospital following a June 22 assassination attempt against him, made a number of comments which provide clues as to the approach he is likely to pursue now that he has returned to work (www.kp.ru/daily/24343.5/534268/).
But far and away the most intriguing were his words about who was responsible for the attacks against him and the increasing violence in his republic and across the entire North Caucasus. He suggested that corrupt officials whom he had gone after were not responsible for the assassination attempt because they lacked the courage to take such steps.
And when the paper’s Sergey Dorenko asked for his assessment of who was behind the violence in the region, Yevkurov responded that he is “far from the thought that the Arabs stand behind this business. There are other forces. More serious ones. The West is trying to destabilize the situation and not allow Russia’s rebirth to its former power.”
Asked if he was referring to the United States, the Ingushetia president said: “The States, Great Britain, Israel. We understand whose interests … [ellipsis in the original].” But later in the interview, Yevkurov stressed that the West would not succeed either in weakening Russia or detaching the North Caucasus from it.
Despite such efforts, “even after 100 years and more,” the Ingushetia leader said, “the Caucasus will be Russian,” first using the word for “ethnic Russian” and then correcting himself by saying “It will never be anyone else’s. Only not [ethnic] Russian but [civic] Russian this time.”
Yevkurov made three other important remarks: First, he insisted that his cooperation with Chechnya’s Ramzan Kadyrov was not that of a “younger brother” but rather that of a partner, and that working together, they were far more likely to be able to defeat the militants in the field than if they worked separately.
Second, Yevkurov said, there was no chance that the two Waynakh republics would combine or even, at least anytime soon, that he would press for the return of Ingush territory from Ossetia, even though he was born there. Taking either step, he suggested, could trigger border problems elsewhere.
And third, the Ingushetia leader argued that few of the militants were motivated by ideology or money. Rather, he suggested, most are either being mislead or had been intimidated. There is some support for the militants, he acknowledged, but as they suffer defeats in the field, this support will decline.
Indeed, he commented, “No one is saying that the local population does not support them. There are many accomplices.” But as the fighting continues and as the government succeeds in getting people jobs and filling the spiritual vacuum some young people in the region feel, things will change for the better, the Ingushetia leader said.
According to Yevkurov, he and his staff have analyzed the situation and conclude that there will not be another Chechen war, despite the predictions of some, and that “the bandits” in the North Caucasus will finally understand as “the bandits in Western Ukraine” did in the 1950s that “fighting on is useless” and then turn on their “own” leaders.
But the violence in Ingushetia in recent days suggests that day has not yet arrived and may not come any time soon either in Yevkurov’s republic or anywhere else across a region so unsettled that ever more voices are being raised in Moscow as to whether Russia does now or ever will again control it.