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18 Aug, 2009 10:48

ROAR: Ingush president’s difficult return

ROAR: Ingush president’s difficult return

The situation in the southern republic of Ingushetia may be aggravated even more after the terrorist attack of August 17, the Russian media says.

Several people were killed and dozens injured when a suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden minivan through the gate of the police headquarters in Nazran, the republic’s largest city.

The attack was the worst for many years in Ingushetia. However, the republic has seen a rise in violence in recent months, with state officials and police officers frequently under attack. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has called the increased terrorist activity in the Caucasus “an attempt to destabilize the situation in the region.”

The blast in Nazran was not the bloodiest in modern Russian history, but the reaction of the federal center was unprecedented, Vremya Novostey daily wrote. The Russian President dismissed Ingushetia’s police chief Ruslan Meyriev, the paper said.

Medvedev stressed that the Ingush police had failed to defend the people as well as its own ranks. “There has been no such criticism in Russia for more than ten years,” Vremya Novostey said.

“It seems that in the present situation the federal center has no other choice than to react to the events in the republic,” the daily noted. “Terrorist attacks against officers of law-enforcement agencies have become a daily routine.”

The Ingush law-enforcement agencies are not properly managing their tasks, the paper said, adding that “this summer’s events broke the past sad records.” In June Ingush President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov was badly wounded. He was released from hospital a few days ago.

Yevkurov is to return to the republic soon. Vremya Novostey noted that Yevkurov said for the first time that the situation in the republic is more complicated [than it seemed before] and terrorists had many sympathizers among locals. “The aim of the latest terrorist attack was to cause panic and destabilize the situation in the republic,” Yevkurov said.
The Ingush president said he knew the names of the organizers of the terrorist attack, Kommersant daily wrote. “It is Doku Umarov, leaders of other bandit groups,” he said. Police squads of Ingushetia and neighboring Chechnya have been conducting special operations against them since May.

Rashid Gaysanov, head of Ingushetia’s government, was quoted by Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily as saying that “terrorists are determined to destroy Ingush people, and their targets are not only representatives of the authorities, but the whole population.”

There are a lot of questions about the ability of the republic’s authorities to cope with the situation. At the same time, analysts believe that Moscow puts its trust in Yevkurov.

“Some terrorist attacks, even such serious as yesterday’s one, will not change the center’s attitude to Yevkurov soon,” Rostislav Turovsky, a professor of political science at the Moscow State University, believes. “Everyone understands that it is impossible to change the situation in the republic quickly, it will take not less than a year,” Turovsky told Vedomosti daily.

"federal authorities demonstrate readiness to support Yevkurov both politically and economically,” the website of the Center for Political Conjuncture of Russia wrote. “Viktor Basargin, Minister of Regional Development, has confirmed that a special program to accelerate the socio-economical development of Ingushetia is being created.”

The difficult economic situation is not the only reason for militants’ activities. Yevkurov said that some countries may be interested in the aggravation of the situation in Ingushetia. However, it would not be correct to blame only external forces, RBC daily wrote. “The Caucasus is boiling not because of the secret external forces, but due to interior conflicts,” Sergey Markedonov, an analyst with the Institute of Political and Military Analysis, told the paper. “There are cases of blood feuds, conflicts between criminals and the struggles of local elites.”

Another expert, Enver Kisriev, head of the department of the Caucasus of the Center of Civilizations and Regional Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, also stresses the importance of local elites.
“To save the country’s integrity, tough policies may be necessary,” Kisriev told RBC daily. However, he stressed that the clan structure of the Ingush society could not be ignored. “Divide and rule is the only method to pacify the Caucasus now,” he added.
Police officers and the republic’s officials are the main targets of militants in Ingushetia. The media is also still commenting on the murder of Ingushetia’s construction minister Ruslan Amerkhanov last week. “It was not accidental that this crime coincided with the news about Yunus-Bek Yevkurov’s recovery, his return to the republic and statements about more active struggle against corruption and militants,” Novye Izvestia daily wrote.

“The murder of Amerkhanov is a demarche, committed under the slogan ‘Yevkurov, it is better for you not to return,’” Aleksey Malashenko, an analyst with the Carnegie Moscow Center, told the daily.
Another daily, Vremya Novostey, wrote that the murder of Amerkhanov is rather “symptomatic.” He was considered one of Yevkurov’s closest allies. After the president’s recovery militants began to kill his associates, the paper said. “Killings of politicians in Ingushetia have become epidemic,” another daily, Izvestia, wrote.

The recent violence in Ingushetia may force the federal authorities to declare a new counter-terrorist operation in the republic, some analysts and politicians believe. Kommersant daily quote Mikhail Grishankov, the first deputy head of the State Duma Committee on Security, as saying that it would be possible “if some additional measures are needed.”

Sergey Borisov, RT