The president of dead bears
By Magomed Toriyev, special to Prague Watchdog
It is now six months since Yunus-Bek Yevkurov was appointed President of Ingushetia. Not a long period of time, but not a short one either. He was awaited as a saviour who with the full backing of the federal centre possessed the will and the ability to restore at least some order to the republic.
But now he has encountered problems which cannot be solved by means of skilfully deployed tanks and guns.
The Ingush president is obviously sickened by the experience of his Chechen colleague Ramzan Kadyrov (all credit is due to him for that!). But he is also forbidden to take the path of former Ingush President Aushev. In part this is because all his actions are watched jealously by the federal centre, but mostly it is because he is committed to the idea of a united and undivided Russian state, and naively sees the present system of government as the only ones possible.
On the one hand he has been charged with the task of destroying the armed insurgency, while on the other he would like to establish a strong and organic connection with Ingush society and attempt to find a formula for agreement between all shades of public opinion in the republic. These two goals are evidently in direct conflict with each other.
Speaking in Rostov, he divided Ingushetia’s citizens into three groups – those who are indifferent, those who help the insurgents, and the insurgents themselves. How can one govern a people who directly or indirectly support the enemy? To this, Yevkurov has no answer.
At the outset of his career Yevkurov’s attempts to establish a dialogue with all parties were perceived as a thoughtful and deliberate move towards democracy on the part of the new president. But today, in the absence of results, those attempts are seen as a weakness. He is simply afraid of losing the support of those groups who considered themselves to be influential, whether opposition figures or elders.
For several months now there have been persistent rumours that the Kremlin has given Yevkurov carte blanche to create his own guard on the model of Kadyrov’s paramilitary units. About a month ago it was reported that 50 sets of black uniforms and equipment had been delivered to the interior ministry warehouses for use by the special counter-terrorist battalion created for relatives of dead policemen. Although 50 is an absurdly small amount, it seems that the new president is not even able to assimilate this number of “knights of the cloak and dagger”. Please do not suppose that I advocate the creation of “revenge” groups – I am merely saying that Yevkurov is totally paralysed, that he is unable to take any decisions, good or bad.
As a background to the portrait of the "bewildered colonel" one might point to the explosive growth of crime in Ingushetia. Incidents of robbery are widespread and frequent, and the sums stolen from former officials and their relatives are estimated at tens of thousands of dollars. According to data released by the Ingush interior ministry’s information centre, crimes involving the use of weapons are up by 736%, cases of robbery with violence by 600%, and vehicle theft shows a 500% increase compared to January-February 2008. Crime is a very important indicator. Gangsters always feel that the government’s grip has loosened. In circumstances like these they are very quick to seize power.
The situation is deteriorating on all fronts. No one is able to explain what is going on in Ingushetia. The killing is universal: it is wiping out Russians and Ingush, clerics and businessmen, not to mention employees of the Ingush interior ministry and FSB, and insurgents.
To the question of who is doing the killing there is likewise no single answer. A few weeks a car containing Ingush interior ministry personnel came under fire near the railway station in Nazran. The answering fire destroyed the attackers. They turned out to be members of the FSB – one was killed and two were seriously wounded. What impelled FSB officers to shoot at Ingush policemen in broad daylight remains a total mystery.
A few days after the ending of a counter-insurgency operation in the village of Ordzhonikidze, a bear that had attacked a local resident was shot and killed. The bear had been forced to leave an area of forest that was regularly being shelled and was swarming with insurgents and federal troops.
The angry creature met its death in the chaos of an ungovernable reality.
(Translation by DM)