Staunton, August 27 – Encouraged by Moscow’s call to involve councils of elders in pacifying the North Caucasus and angry at Ingush President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov for failing to improve conditions, the taips, the traditional clans of Ingush society, are re-activating the alternative parliament they had set up under Yevkurov’s despised predecessor, Murat Zyazikov.
Earlier this week, Magomed Khazbiyev, the head of the Just Ingushetia Movement, issued a statement saying that at a Nazran meeting, the taips had adopted a decision “to renew the activity of the Alternative Parliament, the Mekhk Khela, because of popular unhappiness with Yevkurov’s policies (www.zaprava.ru/content/view/2460/1/).
According to Khazbiyev’s statement, the Yevkurov regime “is not capable of defending the interests of citizens.” Moreover, “in Ingushetia the Constitution of the Russian Federation and the criminal code do not function. [And] masked armed detachments kidnap people and carry them out of the republic for extra-judicial executions.”
He points out that this institution was created in February 2008 in response to the failures of Zyazikov’s government, but when Yevkurov was appointed, the Mekhk Kkhela decided to suspend operations because “the President publically gave promises to start a dialogue with all political forces and end the kidnappings and the murders of residents of the republic.”
“However,” Khazbiyev continued, “the promises of the President in fact remained only words.” Consequently, “the majority of deputies elected in 2008 [to this alternative parliament] at congresses of taips [in various parts of the republic] have declared their desire to join the [restored] Mekhk Kkhela.”
Yesterday, “Kommersant” reported that the body intends to seek the dissolution of the republic parliament elected under Zyazikov, a plan that puts the Alternative Parliament on a collision course with Yevkurov as well as with the Council of Taips Yevkurov himself set up in October 2009 (kommersant.ru/doc.aspx?DocsID=1492882&NodesID=2).
(At that time, the Ingush president told representatives of 14 notable families that he wanted to involve them in restoring law and order in the republic and to secure their support as well as to show that he hoped to end corruption, Yevkurov announced that each taip would be given “a proportional number of quota places in Russian higher educational institutions.)
Khazbiyev said that the Alternative Parliament will meet in the near future and work to improve conditions in Ingushetia, but he very clearly specified that while the body will demand the dismissal of the sitting parliament, which he said has “lost its legitimacy,” the taip leader said that the new assembly would not seek Yevkurov’s replacement.
What the Mekhk-kkhel may do, however, is suggested by what it did in 2008 and 2009. It provided a focus for the anti-Zyazikov opposition and involved people like Ingushetia.ru owner Magomed Yevloyev, who was killed in August 2008, Marksharip Aushev, killed in November 2009, and Bamatgirey Mankiyev, who now works as agriculture minister for Yevkurov.
During that period, the Alternative Parliament organized a series of mass meetings, “some of which,” as “Kommersant” points out, “ended with serious clashes with the siloviki.” But as Moscow expert Aleksey Malashenko points out, it was not and is not a structure that could effectively fight either corruption or crime.
According to the Carnegie Center specialist, the taips have decided to restore this body out of a sense of desperation. They simply do not feel they have any other options. “There is no chance to form political parties, and therefore they are appealing to forms of public activity which long ago outlived their purpose.”
Prior to Soviet times, taip councils played a key role in the lives of the Ingush and the Chechens, but the communist authorities denounced them as “survivals of the past” and suppressed them. In the early 1990s, Chechen President Dzhokar Dudayev re-established a taip council, but, as “Kommersant” notes, it proved more “decorative” than a source of power.
But however that may be, the Alternative Parliament proved itself to be a force to be reckoned with when the hated Zyazikov was in office, and Khazbiyev and the other taip leaders in Ingushetia clearly hope that their enterprise will matter at least as much now as it did two years ago.