Day: September 20, 2007

The violence in Ingushetia – III

Prague Watchdog’s Umalt Chadayev has some background – including interviews with residents – on the continuing violence in Ingushetia, where in the past two weeks alone there have been no fewer than ten attacks on policemen, military convoys, checkpoints and Russian federal bases. [what follows is my translation, reproduced in toto as the link does not currently appear to work].

Murders of law-enforcers in Ingushetia are becoming systematic

By Umalt Chadayev

NORTH CAUCASUS – Ingushetia has recently witnessed a significant increase in the number of murders of law enforcement officers (“siloviki”), assaults on military personnel and gun and rocket attacks on federal bases.

Late on September 18 Abdurakhman Meyriyev, acting chief of Ingushetia’s Sunzhensky district police CID, was killed by unidentified attackers in the village of Ordzhonikidzevskaya, located a few kilometres from the administrative border with Chechnya. The killers, who subsequently made their escape in a Zhiguli car, lay in wait for the police official and one of his colleagues outside the village mosque as they left it after evening prayers. Meyriyev died in hospital, and the condition of his colleague is said to be serious.

A day before this, on the evening of September 17, Alikhan Kalimatov, an FSB lieutenant and younger brother of the republic’s former public prosecutor, was shot and killed as he left a café near the village of Gazi-Yurt in the republic’s Nazranovsky district. A friend who was with him sustained injuries. As in the case of the Meyriyev murder, the attackers fled in an unknown direction.

The sharp deterioration in the crime situation comes precisely at a time when some 3,000 Russian federal and interior ministry troops have been sent to the republic "to ensure stability and the rule of law". In late July, Russia’s interior minister Rashid Nurgaliyev announced the launching in the republic of a massive special operation called SKPM (special integrated preventive measures).

Government representatives explained that these measures were related to the increased attacks on law-enforcers and Russian-speaking citizens. But neither the SKPM nor the introduction of additional troops have solved the problem in the republic. In fact, local observers note that the situation there has recently become significantly worse.

"They’ve put policemen and soldiers everywhere and set up checkpoints so that normal people can’t get through, and yet the crimes continue," Yakub Aushev, a Nazran resident, says angrily. "What hope have local people got when those police and soldiers can’t even defend themselves in a normal way! They’re constantly being fired at and killed and having their convoys blown up by landmines. What’s the point of them being here?"

62-year-old Salamgiri Nalgiyev, a former law enforcement officer, agrees with Yakub. "You can’t solve the problem of the fight against crime just by increasing the forces on the ground, bringing in the military and introducing more repressive penal measures," he says. “First there has to be careful intelligence work, to identify the bandits and prevent possible attacks by them, you have to work ahead of the criminals and not just react to circumstances as they evolve."

The situation in Ingushetia has indeed seriously deteriorated in recent months. In the past two weeks alone there have been no fewer than ten attacks on policemen, military convoys, checkpoints and federal bases. During the same period three members of the security forces have been killed and several more wounded with varying degrees of severity.

The republic’s residents are extremely troubled by what is taking place, and feel that someone is deliberately trying to launch if not a major war, then a serious armed confrontation in Ingushetia.

"I think our republic has been chosen as the next ‘hot spot’ in the North Caucasus,” says Bekkhan, a 40-year-old Ingushetian resident. “Chechnya had its turn, then there was Dagestan in 1999, and now it’s us. There’s a lot of talk and argument about who is doing all this and who benefits, but I think it’s wrong to put all the blame for the worsening situation on semi-mythical guerrillas. There are other forces that want to launch a bloodbath here,“ he thinks. "I’m more inclined to believe that what’s going on is related to the upcoming elections in Russia. Someone is very eager to have a stable source of tension here in the Caucasus."