Ingushetia 2007: what is coming next?

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Ingushetia 2007: what is coming next?

January 2008



Ingushetia 2007: what is coming next? 1

1. Introduction 2

2. Ingushetia, 2007. What is actually happening? 3

3. Winter - spring 2007 5

4. Summer-Autumn 2007 11

4.1. Escalation of the militants’ activity 12

4.2. Murders of people belonging to the ethnic minorities in the Republic and subsequent investigation. An open letter of public opinion representatives of the Republic of Ingushetia 17

4.3 Domiciliary search during the targeted "preventive operations" and "cleansing” operations in settlements. 20

4.4. The special operation in the house of the Aushev family, illegal detention and torture of Magomed Aushev. 25

4.5. Illegal detentions and abductions with the purpose of obtaining information and recruitment. Illegal places of detention 30

4.6. Executions “in the course of detention attempt”. 39

4.6.1. The extrajudicial execution of Apti Dalakov 43

4.7. The Murder of Murat Bogatyryov at the district Department of Internal Affairs of the Malgobek district. 47

4.8. The special operation in Chemulga, the murder of the six-year-old boy Rakhim Amriev. 49

4.9. Protest actions in Ingushetia 51

4.10. Acts of intimidation - the abduction of journalists and of a human rights activist 58

4.11. Appeals to the Memorial with requests for protection 63

Tatyana Gritsenko. The conclusion of a commander. The absence of the Interior Troops was not noted. // the newspaper “Vremya Novostey”, 11.10.2007 Ivan Sukhov. Stranger people. The federal staff will establish order in Ingushetia. // The newspaper «Vremya Navostey», 12.10.2007 68

5. December 2007. The Elections 72

6. Early 2008. What is coming next? 77

7. Recommendations 78

1. Introduction

Over the second half of the year 2007 the situation in the Republic of Ingushetia has drastically changed for the worse. On the one hand, there is direct evidence of the unprecedented scale of activity on the part of the militants: nearly each day of July, August, September and October brought news of attacks on public officials, landmine blasts and shooting attacks in the Republic. According to Yu.N.Turygin, the Prosecutor of the Republic of Ingushetia, in 2007 the number of attempts on lives of law enforcement officers had increased by 85% as compared to 20061. On the other hand, the “siloviks” have been themselves grossly abusing human rights in their fight against the militants. Additional armed forces were deployed in the republic, while the local law enforcement officers were transferred to a heightened alert regime. Still, instead of creating a flexible and reliable security system that would primarily work towards prevention of violence, the “siloviks” in Ingushetia continue with their regular malpractices - executions, abductions and torture - which result in the endless inflow of new combatants into the armed underground.

We do not doubt the necessity of fighting terrorism; however, such fighting must be in keeping with the Russian laws and Russia’s international obligations in the field of human rights’ protection.

The current short report attempts to systematize the available information on human rights violations in Ingushetia in 2007 and to display the tools of violence escalation. We have also analyzed potential developments in the near future in the event that the authorities fail to restore the legal framework of fighting against the armed guerilla underground as well as its relations with the civilian opposition. In fact, we are just revealing, with support of practical examples, the key provisions of the background report “The Situation in the Republic of Ingushetia. On the Way Toward Destabilization” prepared by the Memorial Human Rights Center in September 20072. Back in 2005, the Memorial Human Rights Center, in its report “A Conveyer of violence. Human rights violations during counter-terrorist operations in the Republic of Ingushetia” warned that the existing system could not counteract terrorism effectively and would regenerate new and more dreadful forms of violence3. The recent events in Ingushetia prove the truthfulness of that warning.

In our view, the situation in Ingushetia requires most urgent attention from the authorities of all levels in Russia and from international organizations.

This report once again illustrates the point formulated in the works of A. D. Sakharov, - human rights, peace and security are inseparably entwined. Grave and massive violations lead to destabilization of the situation and, further on, to a disaster.

In conclusion, we offer our understanding of what steps are required to be taken in order to relieve the tension and prevent an even more profound social upheaval in the Republic of Ingushetia.

2. Ingushetia, 2007. What is actually happening?

The aggravation of the situation in Ingushetia in 2007 is far from being the first in the Republic’s recent history. Outbursts of violence have happened here before. Militant attacks on police officers and soldiers; murders of public officials; law-enforcement “special operations” accompanied by extrajudicial killings and abductions - such have been realities of life in Ingushetia during the last five years.

The activity of the armed underground forces has perceptibly intensified in the summer and autumn of 2006, after the murder of Shamil Basayev here. However, with regard to the level of violence the current situation can only be compared with the events of June 21-22, 2004, when numerous militant detachments for several hours maintained control over a number of settlements, including the cities of Nazran and Karabulak. The attackers put up outposts at major intersections, which enabled them to check documents and shoot passing security personnel on-site, - the largest operation of the underground militants took 78 human lives, 113 people were injured.4

Of course, the year 2007 will not see the repetition of 2004 but it was in something radically different. Now the insurgents no longer organize or carry out large-scale operations avoiding direct clashes. They limited their activity to shooting ambush and attacks on the ”siloviks” and officials.

At that time, three and a half years ago, the Ingush involvement in the attacks against Ingush police officers caused surprise and perplexity among residents of the Republic. Nowadays it is, unfortunately, no longing perceived as surprising.

Over the years, the armed underground in Ingushetia had managed to create an effective network of semi-autonomous groups. In summer 2007 they began an unprecedented hunt on security servicemen, law enforcement officers, federal military personnel and officials.

The tactic of the federal ”siloviks” in their fight against illegal armed groups has not changed. Human rights and the law are still either not taken into account or deliberately ignored. Arrested and detained people usually disappear and die. "Special operations" in settlements are often accompanied by beatings, looting and harassment of local residents. The "siloviks" commit out-of-court executions, brutally torture suspects, impede the work of lawyers, widely falsify criminal cases.

All this inevitably destabilizes the situation and strengthens the position of the armed underground forces. The cruelty of investigations and judicial arbitrariness are common knowledge among the republic’s population. Over the years, many people have developed well grounded discontent and even hatred towards representatives of the public authorities. The militants thus find acceptance on the part of the victims of such violations and people who are seeking to avenge their relatives thus becoming a mobilization base for the guerrillas. The reasons for taking up arms could be simple protest against injustices committed by the authorities and the arbitrariness of the "siloviks".

In response, the state only aggravates its methods of combating the militants: the brutal counter-terrorism tactic used in Ingushetia is similar to the methods employed in Chechnya in 2000-2003.

In summer 2007 murders of people belonging to minority ethnic groups: Russians, Gypsies, Koreans became rather common. Over the period from July to early November, 24 Russian-speaking residents of Ingushetia had been killed. Unidentified attackers acted confidently and defiantly, sometimes shooting victims in broad daylight. All those people killed had been practicing peaceful professions, among them were schoolteachers. There were also many women, elderly people among the victims. Murders of the most respected residents of non-Vainakh nationality aroused wide indignation - the vast majority of population strongly condemns these crimes. Neighbors, friends, colleagues of Russian-speaking residents of Ingushetia have been striving to help them to the best of their ability while the authorities are trying to protect them. However, the persons responsible for these murders have to date not been found. Non-Vainakh people, quite naturally fearing for their own safety, are now leaving Ingushetia.

The current grave armed conflict in Ingushetia has a number of reasons behind it..

On the one hand, the armed underground is purposefully trying to destabilize the situation in the Republic.

On the other hand, the security servicemen continuously and flagrantly violating the rights of Ingushetia's residents also contribute to the militants’ success in expanding their mobilization base.

The majority of the population still does not support the militants, does not share the separatist ideology and does not seek to impose Islam on the public administration system.

But the distrust with which they regard public institutions is clearly growing. The reality of a political crisis in the Republic is evident. The current leaders of Ingushetia are unable to influence the situation and cannot solve any of its urgent problems: whether that be protection of the population from attacks of insurgents and the arbitrariness of the ”siloviks”, achieving economic development, creation of jobs or defending what is perceived by most people as national interests5.

Alongside with these problems, which affect the majority of the Republic's residents, the number and size of the luxury mansions belonging to the Republic’s officials are growing. Social discontent in the community has reached a critical level but there are no democratic mechanisms of influencing the authorities. Federalism in Russia has practically been cancelled.

The crisis of power is only partially due to its corruption and inefficiency. Over the last years, the Northern Caucasus (with the exception of Chechnya) has seen the creation of a management system in which the role of the federal security services has rapidly increased. The executive and legislative branches of power in the North Caucasus Republics (again with the exception of the President of the Chechen Republic) have almost no levers by means of which they could exert any influence over the "siloviks" and, therefore, they could not seriously affect the security situation in their regions to counteract arbitrariness and violence.

In 2004, amidst a wave of indignation caused by the actions of the insurgents, who have been unleashing battles across Ingushetia, the republican authorities had an excellent opportunity to receive real support from the population. Currently the rigidly built vertical structure of power combined with the mistrust of the republic's population of the authorities leaves no such hope. Fearing protest actions, the authorities prohibit all pickets, rallies and manifestations. The inability of the population to express its discontent with the policy of the authorities only exacerbates the unstable situation in the Republic.

On September 19-20, 2007 the news of the abduction of two Ingushetia residents by the "siloviks" led to mass riots in Nazran. Several hundred people blocked the busy intersections of Nazran with concrete blocks demanding to find and return the abducted people, to investigate the abductions and murders of other residents of Ingushetia and to punish those responsible. The republican riot police officers, upon orders received from the superiors, tried to disperse the rally and unlock the intersection. The clashes were accompanied by beatings of people, firing of automatic guns and armored machine guns over the heads of the crowd. People threw stones at the policemen. The riot squad was forced to retreat. Only after learning that the two abducted men have been released, the people unblocked the intersections and the crowd dispersed.

The authorities have demonstrated to the residents of Ingushetia that the law and human rights do not mean anything to them and that it is only possible to gain something by means of force.

On November 9, 2007 during a regular special operation in the village of Chemulga a six-year-old boy was killed. The murder caused outrage in the Republic. This time the protest rally was planned in advance. To avoid the possibility of a protest rally against the arbitrariness of the "siloviks" being held on November 24 in Nazran, the Republican authorities resorted to unprecedented measures. However, neither the heightened security on the streets of the city, nor the threatening statements from the neither authorities, nor even intimidation of the alleged leaders of the rally have produced any effect. Several hundred people, mainly young people came to the square in the centre of Nazran. The rally was dispersed.

Amidst these circumstances the triumphant results of the election to the State Russian Duma held on December 2 were announced.*6 It is unlikely that this will enhance the trust in the authorities in the eyes of the Republic's population.

In July 2007 two additional regiments of the Ministry of Interior troops were brought to Ingushetia. The residents perceive the presence of military forces as a sign of tension and as a factor that at the same time contributes to its further growth. More troops appearing on the roads and the streets of settlements also mean more targets for attacks by armed groups. While in October this "heightened security" was reduced, the military presence in all other republics of the North Caucasus is significantly smaller than in Ingushetia.

The Memorial does not question the need to combat illegal armed activities and terrorism but this struggle must be conducted in keeping with the Russian law and Russia's international obligations on human rights. Otherwise, it is counterproductive and leads to destabilization of the situation in the regions, a sad example of which we have in Ingushetia.

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