President Murat Zyazikov of Ingushetia (a southern Russian republic neighboring Chechnya) believes that the motive behind Chechen bandits' attack on his republic was to undermine its course toward stability and economic revival.
It is no secret there are forces who are vehemently oppose to our course toward stability and economic revival. They don't like it that we are consistent and steadfast in upholding our positions, that we envision our future as part of the Russian Federation, and that our profile in the region is rising. What they need is chaos, like the chaos that is now reigning across the border, in Chechnya, Zyazikov said in an interview with the Rossiiskaya Gazeta newspaper, to be released in tomorrow's edition.
According to the Ingush President, those forces seek to expand the conflict zone, drawing his republic into the disastrous confrontation with the federal government. Zyazikov said he had no doubt that the attacks committed by Chechen militants across Ingushetia earlier this week were aimed precisely at undermining the republic's recent achievements, which he claims are substantial and relate to areas such as economics, social welfare, culture, and sports. By way of example, he told about the republican junior mini-soccer team, which had won national championships and was now competing for the World Cup in Paris. The team has won two matches, advancing into the quarterfinals, he boasted.
Another accomplishment is a drop in the unemployment rate, Zyazikov said. "We have created several thousand jobs in the agribiz, and are preparing to launch a number of new industrial facilities," he said. According to the Ingush President, the city of Nazran will soon see the opening of an antenna and communication devices plant, to employ about a thousand workers. A brick and a claydite plants are to be commissioned shortly, too. And the republic's oil sector is now being actively restored.
Foreign investors are coming in already, the Ingush leader claims. According to him, investors from Great Britain are contributing to the construction of housing in the Ingush capital, Magas. And Norwegian companies have launched a project to build a network of hydraulic installations, expected to provide the republic with cheap energy. Negotiations over other joint projects are currently underway between Ingush officials and investors from Germany, Denmark and Belarus, Zyazikov said.
Some of the inhabitants who left the republic in the early 1990s are now coming back, the Ingush President said. Forty Russian households have recently returned to their homes in Ingushetia, he said, adding that an Orthodox Christian church was now under construction in Ordzhonikidzevskaya settlement.
This is what Chechen militants' June 22 attacks were directed against, the Ingush leader concluded.
In reply to a question about his whereabouts at the time of the incursion, Zyazikov said he had been in downtown Nazran, thereby denying media reports that he had been in Vladikavkaz at the moment the Chechens attacked and that he had had his family leave in advance for a safer location.
An investigation is now underway to identify the attackers and establish their ethnicity and affiliation. Preliminary findings suggest that the force that perpetrated the attacks was made up of foreign mercenaries as well as Chechen rebels, Zyazikov reported. In his view, it would be wrong to see the modern-day Ingushetia as a breeding ground for Islamic extremism and Wahhabism. When people [in Ingushetia] had no jobs, no means to support themselves and their dependants, it was, indeed, quite easy to manipulate them. But now the situation has changed dramatically, the Ingush President assured.
Zyazikov confirmed that the republic was still living off federal subsidies, but said the Ingush would not like to be seen as parasites, that they had their own natural reserves to develop, including oil and water and that this season, they were going to sow domestic seeds only.