Global Voices Online
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Attacks on civilians in Ingushetia have increased in the past few months. The most recent victims of violence include the family of an ethnic Russian teacher from the town of Karabulak, two ethnic Koreans in Stanitsa Ordzhonikidzevskaya, and a 66-year-old ethnic Russian doctor at a blood transfusion center in Nazran. Attacks on law enforcement authorities are also reported to be on the rise. To help local security forces manage the situation, some 2,500 interior ministry troops were sent to Ingushetia (pop. 467,294) earlier this month.
In Karabulak, the Federal Security Service (FSB) carried out a "special operation" on Sept. 2, which resulted in the death of Apti Dolakov, a 21-year-old man allegedly involved in the murder of the teacher's family.
LJ user shurpaev - Ilyas Shurpaev, a journalist with the state-owned Channel 1 - wrote this (RUS) about the incident:
So I'm sitting in the lobby [of the Karabulak prosecutor's office] and in comes a huge guy in camouflage, and he is fuming - "How can it be! Why did they have to kill?! They could've just arrested him, if there had been something on him, they could've just arrested him and that's it, and now they'll just put all the blame on the guy!" The secretary hissed at him - "There are journalists here!!!"
According to the official story, the guy was killed as he attempted to escape and resist the police. And he had a hand grenade. So we go to the site of the incident, find the backyard where he was killed, talk to the witnesses of the special operation, and what do you think? Everyone says the same thing. And we weren't recording the crowd, we walked from one apartment to the other, so I think there is a substantial grain of truth in what they were saying. Here are [...] the facts.
- the guy had no weapons on him, there was nothing in his hands as he was running away, but he was being followed by armed men.
- the crowded neighborhood, in which the special operation was taking place, had not been cordoned off. But there was [a great deal of] shooting there.
- the guy was shot in the backyard, then it looks like they made a "control shot," then they lifted his body and placed a hand grenade underneath. [...] No one said they'd placed the hand grenade into his pocket, into his hand, etc. Everyone said they'd lifted the body, and they even thought they wanted to administer first aid to the guy. [...]
At the end of his post, Shurpaev explains why what's going on in Ingushetia now is similar to the situation in Dagestan two years ago - and why it appears to be much worse:
The situation in Ingushetia sucks and I doubt it'll improve. The terrorist act statistics is nearly the same as in Dagestan two years ago. But over there, special services where not fighting guys "with hand grenades" - but were killing weathered gang bosses. In [Dagestan] now, it's not three terrorist acts a night, but one every two weeks at the most.
Other explanations of the situation in Ingushetia feature the neighboring Chechnya - in one way or another.
According to some officials, militants from Chechnya and other North Caucasian republics are behind some of the attacks.
Ruslan Isayev, a Prague Watchdog author, whose recent text was translated from Russian by David McDuff of A Step At A Time, reports on this scenario that's now being discussed in Ingushetia:
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 [Ingushetia's extremely unpopular president] Murat Zyazikov will tender his resignation [...] this month.
Isayev also notes that the ongoing violence in Ingushetia is viewed by many as a possible beginning of yet another war in the North Caucasus:
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.
Marina Litvinovich - LJ user abstract2001, Garry Kasparov's aide and founder of the PravdaBeslana.ru website - is dismayed with president Vladimir Putin's lack of response to the situation in Ingushetia and links it to the upcoming presidential election, scheduled to take place on March 9, 2008. She appealed (RUS) to the president's press service on her blog:
If I still had an opportunity to advise president V. Putin to issue a statement, I would definitely insist on a statement about the events in Ingushetia.
Because Russians and not just them are being purposefully killed there, educated and respected people more often than not. Extrajudicial killings (shootings) of civilians are also taking place there (most often for their religious beliefs). All this has been going for two months already.
It's about time the president paid attention to this.
Because he regularly signs condolences when citizens of other countries die, and the same about congratulations, but there's no reaction from him whatsoever when bloody events and deaths of citizens occur in his own country.
But here's what's even worse. They are "setting up the stage" now by killing people in Ingushetia, then they'll organize some terrorist act, and when it's all over, Putin would appear "in front of the nation" and say something like this:
"We are not dealing with singular acts of intimidation or with unrelated attacks by terrorists. We are dealing with a direct intervention of international terror against Russia.
We're dealing with a total, cruel and full-scale war, which is taking lives of our compatriots again and again.
All international experience shows that such wars do not end quickly, unfortunately. In such circumstances, we cannot afford and shouldn't live as carelessly as before.
Our country has entered the election period. It is obvious that the terrorist underground is willing to make use of the time when the power in Russia is being transfered. Our enemies want instability and chaos. But we won't let them drag us into war and terror.
I'd like to say the following in this regard.
A set of measures aimed at strengthening the unity of the country will be prepared in the nearest future.
To preserve stability in Russia, I have sent the chambers of the Federal Council of the Russian Federation a proposal to introduce changes into paragraph 3 of Article 81 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation [which reads: "No one person shall hold the office of President of the Russian Federation for more than two terms in succession."]
I hope that the citizens of Russia will understand and support my decision.
Today, we must be together. Only this way shall we able to overcome the enemy."
Vladimir Vladimirovich, it's good in Australia, but Ingushetia is burning right next to you.
Thank you for your attention.
LJ user varfolomeev66 - Vladimir Varfolomeev, Radio Echo of Moscow host - is dismayed with public indifference towards violence in Ingushetia. On his blog, he wrote (RUS):
[...] We think that what's going on in Ingushetia - so distant from both capitals [Moscow and St. Petersburg] - will not affect us, that the bony hand of the militants and "death squads" will never reach us.
We are wrong to be so hopeful.
The war in Chechnya ended up resulting in the hijacking of planes, explosions of residential building, theater and school sieges. If the Ingush boiler explodes, you and I may end up being buried under its debris, too.
We should at least think about this - if no one, unfortunately, cares about the fate of the Ingush people.