Circling the Lion's Den

Security crisis in Ingushetia expands

By 2007, the militants were launching almost daily attacks in Ingushetia, strafing police cars and firing on security posts in Nazran and other settlements. Acts of violence have been taking place on an almost daily basis, making the republic much less stable than neighbouring Chechnya (where the situation is relatively peaceful).

In July 2007 the situation in Ingushetia became aggravated. Series of terrorist acts and assault took place. The extremely unpopular president of the republic Mural Zyazikov was twice an aim of terrorist attempts. On July 21 in Magace unknown people fired from machine-guns and grenade cup discharges on the cortege of the president. The column managed to escape at high gear from the zone of fire and nobody suffered. In the same day a council of the president Vakha Vedzizhev who is said to have been enjoying the special presidents confidence and exerting great influence on Murat Zyazikov, was shot to death. In six days in the very centre of Magas a gunmen fired on the regional Federal Security Service (FSB) directorates headquarters. Russian news agencies initially reported that the attackers had also fired at the presidential administration building in Magas, but Ingush Prosecutor Yury Turygin subsequently denied those reports.

Responding to the crisis, in the beginning of August the Interior Ministry sent hundreds of additional troops to Ingushetia, announcing (on July 21) the beginning of the special prophylactic military operation. A contingent of 2,500 interior troops has been deployed on its territory.

According to the monitoring by "Memorial" in 2007 during specials operations officers of the security agencies killed 26 alleged participants in IAGs (illegal armed groups). Only three of those killed, have apparently provided resistance. In other cases, there is reason to suggest that the suspects were killed during the simulation of a battle, or, like in the case of Murat Bogatyrev, after being detained. Perhaps at least yet another three people disappeared without a trace can be included to the category of citizens, destroyed after their detention. They were abducted by unidentified armed men.

On September 13, Ingushetian President Murat Zyazikov, Russian Deputy Interior Minister Colonel General Arkady Yedelev, and presidential envoy to the Southern Federal District Dmitry Kozak attended a meeting in Nazran to discuss the recent upsurge in violence and how to counter it. Echoing his superior, Rashid Nurgaliyev, Yedelev said that there are enough Interior Ministry troops in Ingushetia to "restore order." Kozak for his part subjected harshly criticized the Ingushetian Interior Ministry, accusing its officers of corruption, failing to take timely action, not coordinating their activities with the federal Interior Ministry contingent deployed to Ingushetia in July, and collaborating with the armed resistance, the daily "Kommersant" reported on September 14.

In 2008, Magomed Yevloyev, owner of the highly critical opposition website was killed while in police custody. The aftermath of the killing was marked by an upsurge in separatist activity and animosity towards Russia and Russians among the Ingush population.

At the center of this controversy was the deeply unpopular President Zyazikov, a former KGB general who was criticized by both human rights groups and some in the Russian government. The Ingush Interior Minister Musa Medov was targeted by a suicide bomber in October 2008. Eventually, Zyazikov asked for resignation and was dismissed from his position by Russian president Dmitry Medvedev on 30 October 2008. His was replaced with Yunus-bek Yevkurov, a former military intelligence officer. However, the violence did not end.

Assassinations and attempted assassinations of high-profile figures have continued. On 10 June 2009, the deputy chief justice of the Ingushetian Supreme Court, Aza Gazgireeva, was gunned down, and on 13 June the former deputy prime minister, Bashir Aushev, was shot dead outside his home, Ingush President Yevkurov was seriously wounded in a suicide bomb attack on 22 June, and the construction minister was shot dead in his office in August. On 17 August 2009, a suicide bomber drove a GAZelle truck filled with explosives into the Nazran police headquarters. The assassination of Alexander Tikhomirov, known as Said Buryatsky in March 2010 and capture of the Ingush field commander known as Amir Magas (real name Ali Taziev) in June 2010 did not stop violence. According to President Yevkurov, 400 police officers have been killed in Ingushetia over the past five years.

Agentura.Ru March 16, 2011