The Ingushetia election race is entering its final stage; prescheduled presidential elections are to take place this weekend. The campaign can be characterized as rather slack, as there are no signs of traditional election intrigues. This is probably because of the specific Caucasian mentality and Chechnya’s limited status as a republic. At first sight, the federal center seems to have withdrawn from the Ingushetia elections. According to the latest statements, Kremlin protege Marat Zyazikov is among the three possible candidates to the presidential post. The remaining two candidates are ex-Minister for Internal Affairs Hamzat Gutseriev, who enjoys the support of Ruslan Aushev, and acting president of the republic Ahmet Malsagov.
The voluntary resignation of Ruslan Aushev caused many problems in the republic. The republic, which seems to be more or less united, may experience an ethnic split. Journal, a Russian weekly, has given a more precise account of the situation in Ingushetia regarding Aushev’s presidency. Important changes have taken place in the society. It hardly was Aushev’s deliberate intention to achieve total modernization; he just followed through with plans he considered to be good for the people and the republic on the whole. Several educational institutions have been created in the republic for the creation of a national elite; a well-known cadet school can be mentioned here, in which boys are taught languages, dancing, and preference (a card game). Money earned in the free economic zone is invested in the development of infrastructure development: the construction of roads, communication lines, gas pipelines, and modern buildings with all the necessary facilities that are not typical of Ingushetia. Not only people of Aushev’s clan made up his team, they were his brothers-in-arms in the Afghan war, people of different nationalities, by the way. It was an unusual principle for Ingushetia. As a result of the policy, education has become prestigious (including women’s education), although the unemployment rate is rather high, and the solidarity of interests became more important in the politics than merely family relations, ect.
In the Soviet era, the people of Ingushetia, as well as other Caucasian nationalities, led a double life: they demonstrated Soviet loyalty to Moscow, but still lived their habitual life. People attended party meetings, but still followed their own religion: polygamy really existed. It was believed that the central authorities did not interfer with the republic’s life, as obedience was strict. In a word, Ingushetia had to make concessions to Moscow to have the right to remain true to itself, to remain vainakhs (the Chechen-Ingushetia nationality). Attempts to change the colonial tradition were made by Aushev for the first time in history. Being a vainakh himself, Aushev wanted to demonstrate to the federal center and Ingushetia that it is possible to be a vainakh and a Russian at the same time and that there is no need to choose one of the two, or to pretend. Every activity of Aushev, including attempts to make polygamy legal and include vendetta in the republican criminal code were designed to adjust national specific character to Russian contemporary realities. Moscow was rather cautious, and sometimes even aggressive concerning Ingushetia’s initiatives on polygamy and demands to change the attitude to Chechnya and Chechens. General Gennady Troshev touched upon the problem of Aushev’s adherence in his book, he wondered, whether Ruslan Aushev was on the side of Russia, or of his republic.
This has passed into history already. Ruslan Aushev’s future, a serene one by the way, is the thing of greater concern now. Russian Senator Ahmar Zavgayev accuses the ex-president of Ingushetia of supporting Chechen terrorists. RIA Novosti received an open letter of the senator to Ruslan Aushev on Wednesday. It says that over the nine years of his presidency, Ruslan Aushev managed to “maintain and even benefit from a detonating mixture of gangsterism, terrorism, drug traffic, and kidnapping.” In Zavgayev’s words, Aushev says that “99-percent of Chechens render moral support to gangsterism.” The senator thinks it to be an attempt to make a negative image of Chechens more confirmed in the people’s minds. Dudayev and Maskhadov were called Aushev’s friends and teammates at that.
The oil business flourished in Ingushetia over Aushev’s presidency. Many people have made fortunes with the oil business: stolen oil is delivered from Chechnya to Ingushetia, illegally refined there, and then sold throughout the whole of the Northern Caucasus.
Russian law enforcement authorities mentioned not once that no attempts were made by Ruslan Aushev to stop kidnapping, as his officials were involved in ransom distribution. If the senator allowed such revelations at any other time, no attention would be paid to them, but elections are coming next weekend. Nowadays, any negative information may influence the ultimate result of the elections. It is very important now whether or not the people of Ingushetia will follow social and political reason or stick to family ties, which is so typical of the Caucasus.
The revival of clans, which arose in many post-Soviet republics at the dawn of the 90s, is now typical of Ingushetia’s society as well. This time, the clan elite will have to try their chances at the coming presidential elections in the republic. Ruslan Aushev supports the Gutserievs clan, which is rather influential nowadays.
Dmitry Chirkin PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/04/03/39193.html
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