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22 Jun, 2009 17:17

Assassination attempt on Ingush president

The President of Russia's Southern Republic of Ingushetia, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, has been wounded in a bomb attack. He and his brother, who was also wounded, are in Moscow for medical treatment.

A Russian Emergencies Ministry’s plane with the Ingush president and Unais Yevkurov on board arrived in the capital around 9 p.m. local time.

Yevkurov’s condition is serious, but stable. He has a concussion and burns from the explosion, however, doctors predict he will recover.

Moussa Pliyev, adviser to the Ingush President, in an interview with Echo Moskvy radio station said Yevkurov had been operated on.

"I spoke with the doctors, and they said that the President had no piercing wounds. He lost some blood and had several ruptures. All those injuries have been treated, the surgical operation has been a success, and now we can say that his condition is improving.”

He added that people were coming to the hospital “to express sympathy”.

”They offer their blood for blood transfusions and any help they can give. They feel most keenly about this tragic incident and are indignant at what has taken place in the republic," Pliyev is quoted as saying.

The attack occurred when a suicide bomber drove his bomb-laden Toyota into the Ingush president’s armored Mercedes-221, reports ITAR-TASS. The blast flung the president’s vehicle off the road and set it on fire.

The driver of the presidential car, 25-year-old Mustafa Kotiev, and Yevkurov's bodyguard, were killed by the blast.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin compared the masterminds of the assassination attack with the Nazis.

"Those who organised the terrorist act on the day when the Great Patriotic War began have put themselves among the Nazis," he said.

“What is happening is the result of mistakes made in policies in the North Caucasus…There is no control there. So it looks as if we don’t have separatists, but at the same time, the massacre continues. In the eastern part of the North Caucasus, Chechnya seems to be the most stable republic. But Ramzan Kadyrov [the president] is an exception. We can’t find a Kadyrov for each North Caucasian republic.”

Aleksey Malashenko political analyst from the Moscow Carnegie Center told Interfax

Russian Prosecutor General Yury Chaika said several theories are being considered by the investigation in relation to the assassination attempt.

"One of the main theories is that the attack was carried out by illegal armed groups. Another theory focuses on the criminal component," he said.

The head of the Investigative Committee of the General Prosecutor’s office Vladimir Markin told RT:

“We are currently searching the site of the bombing. On June 22, an explosive device equal to 70 kilograms of TNT exploded when President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov's convoy was passing by." 

Vladimir Markin says the attack was carried out by militants in order to destabilize the situation in the Republic of Ingushetia.

The suicide bomber also died, and fragments of his body and his car are dispersed over a considerable area.

The terrorist used a stolen Toyota with Moscow licence plates.

The presidential motorcade consisted of 4 vehicles, including the president’s armored Mercedes. All of them were damaged by the powerful blast, which threw the Mercedes into a ditch, where it burnt out completely.

Early reports said the president’s brother, Unais Yevkurov, who was in the car during the attack, has been killed. Later, news agencies said he was alive and in hospital.

The bomb detonated at approximately 8:30am local time, as the Ingush president’s motorcade was approaching the capital, Magas, on the federal Caucasus route.

The site of the explosion has been blocked and police are working on the ground, searching every inch of the territory.

All security agencies of the Ingush Republic have been put on alert.

While meeting Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliev and head of the Federal Security Service Aleksandr Bortnikov, Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev called for a swift investigation into the assassination attempt, and announced that he is sending his envoy to monitor it.

He said it was “necessary to continue everything being done there to keep order in the republic and in Caucasus in general.”

“Now our state has to prove its efficiency by investigating this case and punishing the organizers, executers and masterminds of the crime…The wave of terror in the North Caucasus has to be stopped. That’s something the North-Caucasian population – who are tired of constant stress related to terrorist danger – is waiting for.”

Parliament’s Federation Council Speaker Sergey Mironov

Bortnikov said Yevkurov’s crackdown on criminals is probably the reason for Monday’s attack.

“After Yevkurov took the presidential position, we saw increased activity against organized crime. There have been several successful operations involving local police forces recently,” he said.

Also today Medvedev has met Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov to discuss the situation with the counter-terrorist activities in the North Caucasus after the assassination attempt on the head of Ingushetia.

Chechen and Ingush law-enforcement authorities have been recently conducting joint operations against militants on Chechen-Ingush border.

“We have achieved serious results and our actions really interfered with bandits’ plans” commented Kadyrov.

“We’ll get harder on the terrorists and there’s no doubt we are going to finish them off within the nearest future,” he added.

Yunus-Bek Yevkurov received the presidential appointment at the end of October, 2008. Before that, he held the position of Deputy Chief of Staff of the Volga-Urals military command.

Wave of violence

On June 13, Bashir Aushev, who held several top governmental positions over the previous 15 years, was gunned down. Earlier, on June 10, Deputy Head of the Ingush Supreme Court, Aza Gazgireyeva, was shot on her way to work.

Alarmed by the wave of violence in the Caucasus, on June 9 President Medvedev visited Makhachkala – capital of another southern republic, Dagestan – to chair a session of the National Security Council. The visit shortly followed a high-profile crime in Dagestan – the killing of Dagestan’s Interior Minister, Adilgerey Magomedtagirov, by a sniper.

Medvedev stressed that the problems in the North Caucasus have a systematic character.

“It is the poverty of the population, the high unemployment rate, the huge scale of corruption and systematic deformities in the government administration. When its effectiveness drops, it leads to the loss of confidence and of the authority of the state. It cannot be allowed,” he said.