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Analysis & Opinion
10.09.08 A Ridiculous Case Of Mismanagement
Comment by Georgy Bovt

As soon as Russia recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, some political analysts were immediately reminded of the case of Ingushetia. Perhaps the main reason for this is that Ingushetia still has an unsolved territorial conflict with North Ossetia over the Prigorodny District. This aroused misgivings that the “strengthening” of Ossetia might provoke the oppositional forces in Ingushetia to become more active. This is true, considering the recent, disturbing news coming from Ingushetia: people being kidnapped, human rights widely, even “massively” violated by law-enforcement authorities, the militant Wahhabite underground becoming more and more active.

The day when participants of the special EU summit were discussing measures to take against Russia – in reply to its “disproportionate” actions against Georgia – probably the most notorious oppositionist of Ingushetia, Magomed Yevloyev, was murdered in the town of Nazran, Ingushetia. He arrived on a plane from Moscow with the republic’s president Murat Zyazikov. As soon as he disembarked the plane, he was arrested by law-enforcement authorities, taken into a car and driven off to an unknown location. On the way there, he was “accidentally killed,” inside the car itself (the authorities stated that a fight had begun and Yevloyev was accidentally shot in the temple).

At that moment, according to the laws of conspiracy theory – when analysts try to find someone’s political stakes behind all, even seemingly accidental, events – somebody could have come up with the version that Yevloyev was shot either by “CIS agents” dressed as Russian police officers, or by Wahhabite bandits. Or, of course, it could be possible to say that this event was caused by the interest of the political forces that don’t like Zyazikov and want to replace him with somebody they find more acceptable.

This is a bad joke, of course; but in truth, in order to destabilize the situation in the republic, it’s hard to find anything more “effective” than the murder of one of the most well-known oppositionists who tirelessly and harshly criticized the republic’s president. It is no surprise that Yevloyev’s murder was immediately followed by mass meetings and demonstrations in Ingushetia. The situation there seems to be getting worse; the atmosphere of protest in the region has for some time now reached not only the “street level,” but also the level of armed militant underground – not a week passes without reports of a new confrontation between law-enforcement authorities and militant fighters.
However, even the federal authorities in Moscow have started to informally acknowledge that Zyazikov has very grave problems in governing and stabilizing the area. Last week, the following revelation was leaked into the mass media (from an anonymous source in the Russian presidential administration): it was quoted that “Zyazikov has some problems.” In Ingushetia, prevailing moods on this subject appear more candid: many people think that Zyazikov is not just unpopular, but that he absolutely has no control over the situation outside his own residence.
His main problem – which is actually typical today for many regional leaders who are appointed per se directly from Moscow and often have nothing in common with the region they have to govern – is that he communicates inadequately with the local population. Indeed, the changes made in choosing governors from election to appointment, which took place in the wake of the tragic events in Beslan, have had some positive effects (for example, strengthening the power vertical and fighting excessive legislative or other liberties in the regions). However, its positive role has already been exhausted. The vertical seems strong enough, but the examples of such regional rulers as Zyazikov demonstrate the fact that being loyal to the center and to the president personally (although Zyazikov is known for being close to Vladimir Putin, not the present master of the Kremlin) does not complete the list of qualities and qualifications required for a leader of a region as complex as Ingushetia. Some Caucasus experts (and even those who are not oppositional to the Kremlin) even say that Ingushetia is presently on the verge of a war. Because of the lawlessness caused by the corrupt and uncontrollable governmental and law-enforcement authorities; because of ongoing, unsolved social problems; because of the practically absent communication between the power and the population, those who are supposed to govern simply don’t know how to do this competently. They have not been taught.

The biggest drama connected to the murder of Magomed Yevloyev, who owned the oppositional website, is that this murder was most likely accidental, in the sense that it seems doubtful that someone decided to kill him precisely in a police car, after many people saw him get into this vehicle. If the authorities of Ingushetia were a bit more cautious and politically intuitive, they would have done the opposite: they would have gone out of their way to protect this Yevloyev, especially considering the circumstances in the far-from-stable Caucasus, with the whole world’s attention – often biased and even hostile – focused on Russia’s policy there. Above all, it is so important not to allow any foolish measures to be taken!

However, the likely scenario is that the authorities of Ingushetia, headed by president Zyazikov, simply do not think in such terms. They have probably never even asked themselves these questions and never set such tasks for themselves. They simply did not think things through; and so, everything went the way it went: if the law-enforcement structures live in the context of complete permissiveness, on the edge, or even beyond the edge, of infamy and chaos, then sooner or later, this situation will see some oppositionist end up “accidentally killed.” But not on the formal, direct order from the authorities. Simply because the policy of these authorities is generally of very, very low quality – a real sense of political unprofessionalism.
The source
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