Ingushetia at the crossroads
By Ruslan Isayev
INGUSHETIA – Many people are now comparing the situation in Ingushetia with the situation in Chechnya before the second war. Some observers even draw parallels with the most active phases of the counter-terrorist operation in Chechnya, when members of the federal forces were able with impunity to abduct any person or simply shoot a passer-by who didn’t look at them in the right way.
Indeed, strange things are happening in Ingushetia, which until recently was a calm and stable region of Russia. What shocks is not so much the mass abductions or killings themselves as the demonstrative nature of most of the punitive actions.
The epicentre of events shifts frequently in this small republic. The activity may be in Malgobek at one moment, in Ordzhonikidzevskaya at another, or in Nazran or Ali-Yurt at yet another. The republic’s investigative bodies are literally awash with criminal cases involving attacks and shoot-outs in various parts of the country. However, this does not prevent them from initiating, with an enviable degree of optimism, yet another investigation of a crime committed by the so-called “boyeviki” (guerrillas), which will be topical only until another incident comes along.
At present there is increased activity in the town of Karabulak, where last week the family of a Russian schoolteacher Vera Draganchuk, was shot and killed. The elderly teacher herself survived by jumping from the window of her home, but her husband and two sons died under the bandits’ bullets. A few days earlier, two Avar shepherds were killed by unknown gunmen. Since then, the peace and quiet of this town with a population of about 30,000 has been shattered. In the course of several days one young man has been killed and four others detained for being directly connected with these crimes , in the opinion of the public prosecutor’s investigators.
On September 2 members of the special services conducted a special operation in Karabulak in order to detain two local residents: Ilez Dolgiyev and Apti Dolakov. They managed to catch Dolgiyev as he was leaving the computer club, while Dolakov tried to escape through the yards of the adjacent houses. However, he was hit in the legs and stomach by fire from a sub-machine gun. The FSB men who conducted the operation were dressed in civilian clothes, and the people who became eyewitnesses of what took place initially thought they were ordinary bandits.
Malika, an elderly woman: "Looking from my window I saw this young fellow fall to the ground. He was being chased by men holding guns. He fell on his stomach. A man in a grey T-shirt ran over to him, pulling it over his head as he did so to avoid being recognized, put a hand-grenade under the dead man and shot him in the head. I saw it with my own eyes. The lad who fell down wasn’t armed, and I don’t understand why they killed him."
Immediately after the shooting, the Karabulak police and officers from the local OMON base arrived on the scene as the group of FSB men were trying to get away. A Karabulak police officer who wants to remain anonymous says: "There were 18 men in the group, and they were all detained as members of an illegal armed unit, because they ignored our request to show us their IDs. Then, when they were searched at the police station, their FSB documents were found in their pockets. At the moment we detained them they had just established radio contact with someone. They were given an order to hide a bag containing weapons. I heard someone say over the radio: ‘Hide the bag of weapons. If it’s found, it could cause big problems.’ We confiscated the bag. We haven’t checked those weapons thoroughly, but it’s very probable that among them are the guns that killed the Draganchuk family and the two shepherds."
After the group was detained, officers of nearly all the law enforcement agencies in the republic began to arrive in Karabulak. Ingushetia’s prosecutor Yuri Turygin and the head of the Ingushetian branch of the FSB and his deputy put pressure on the Karabulak police, whereupon all the detainees, including the one who had shot Apti Dolakov in the head, were unconditionally released.
The increased instances of extrajudicial killings in Ingushetia are giving rise to many rumours, which are sometimes the subject of rather turbulent discussion in Ingush society. One rumour that is spreading says that the situation in the republic is being aggravated on purpose so that the forces of the Moscow-backed Chechen President Kadyrov can be called in to restore order and to unite the two republics in future, and that Murat Zyazikov will tender his resignation as President of Ingushetia this month.