The settlement of Chemulga is the Ingush “bear’s corner”. This is Sunzhensky district of Ingushetia. If you go further, there will be the settlement of Bamut, and that will be Chechnya. When we arrived at Chemulga, we could hear some distant shots or explosions. It seemed to be the consequences of the anti-terrorist operation in Ingushetia. It was not in Chechnya. Such things do not happen in Chechnya now. The Ingush people say, “Ramzan (Kadyrov, Chechen President) can be wrong sometimes, but he does not allow anyone trampling his people. He tramples it by himself. That’s more honest.” Thanks God, there is no Ramzan in Ingushetia, but everyone can trample its people.
Impoverished, Chemulga keeps on indignantly. The houses are painted with bleach and look neatly. Men work in the fields, children go to school. All that could seem to look normal.
This autumn, Ramzan Amriev’s son Rakhim was supposed to go to school. He was 6 and the family had been preparing. But 9 November last year Rakhim was shot accidentally by attached to a special unit FSB officers. Ramzan Amriev tells:
”It was about 7 in the morning when they came and said with their loudspeakers “Women and children must abandon the house now!” I showed myself and they rushed in and made us down on the kitchen’s floor. There were shooting and grenade’s explosions in the rooms. Then I saw my boy bleeding. He was dead. I asked for a cloth to wrap him up so that his mother and sisters not see that. ”
Half of the settlement’s dwellers were standing barefooted on the snow. One of the attached officers kept asking Ramzan Amriev and his neighbors, “Where is he?”
”We wondered who they were looking for. They were saying something about a certain Medved (Bear - nickname). It turned out later they had been looking for the son of my sister. But we hadn’t seen him for 6 years! They had information that he had been hiding in our house and he hadn’t. But Rakhim was already dead. They only said “Sorry for what has happened to the boy”.
Military prosecutor’s office started a case under “reckless killing” Article from Criminal Code. Though, the prospects of the case can be hardly believed in. The only obvious progress of investigation is broken out planks from the kitchen’s floor where the killed boy lied. They have been searching for the bullet. Another thing is that Aslan Amriev, Rakhim’s uncle, was dismissed from the post of deputy head of the settlement’s adminisatrrtion. He lives just opposite his brother’s Ramzan’s house that got under suspicion. A respected man, he was asked to sign a paper saying that he saw shooting done from his brother’s home. Otherwise, he was promised to have troubles in administrative way. Aslan refused to sign the paper and got dismissed for that. The formal pretext was that he does not have higher education. Is it really needed for a man working in the administration of a far distant settlement?
And yet there is a moment that – in enforcement agencies’ opinion – must conciliate the murder of Rakhim Amriev with the reality. Yuri Turygin, Prosecutor of Ingushetia, whom we talked with about loud killings of the late months, tells:
”All those murders of the citizens of non-title nation can fit the same scheme. Now we can say it is all done by one group of gunmen. The only exception is Natalia Muradova’s murder about which we are considering the version of murder with revenging motives and we relate it to her professional activities. There is a witness who identified one of those attacking her home. Interestingly, it was exactly the man who was looked after in Chemulga”.
Here is a nice plot for you:
1) There is a gang group killing non-title population on the Republic’s territory.
2) The presence of reinforced militia and FSB contingent is necessary for struggling with terrorist underground of Ingushetia.
3) Even when this attached contingent kills 6-old children, that does not mean it finds a mare’s nest; it just misses slightly due to some mess!
Until recently it has been voiced officially that killings of innocent people in Ingushetia are just domestic crimes mainly. And yet whatever grounding was giving for the crimes, this grounding is advantageous for the presence of the federal forces in the Republic. And such presence is useful for the standing President of the Republic. An influential teip (Ingush family clan) of Aushev’s is counted among his adversaries and it alone is capable of competing with the Ingush President. So the latter cannot count only on himself and he needs support from above.
Previously, protest actions in Nazran were rather peaceful. The main demand voiced in the November meeting was to name those kidnapping people and shooting innocent people. Two months have passed and nothing has changed. The number of men getting missing is not going to reduce. Some search for their missing relatives on their own and some even manage to find them. As for the authorities, they just pretend that nothing serious is going on in the Republic. And now people are getting armed with Molotov cocktails and stones.
On the eve of the Saturday meeting I spoke to one of the organizers, Maksharip Aushev. We talked about President Zyazikov’s policy.
”Now TV has shown: 70 new plants have been built in Ingushetia and about 3 million of square meters of housing has been constructed” he argues. “But there are only a bit over 40 locations in the Republic. It turns out that every village has two plants. Let him show us the plants! There are 20 famous families in the list of organizers of our meeting. We represent the entire people. Let him come and speak to his people.”
After the protest meeting, right from the Nazran police station – where I and my colleagues were being detained – I was invited by President Murat Zyazikov. Gelani Murzhuev, deputy the Republic prosecutor, explained such selectiveness to my colleagues this way “The President wants to smooth this incident with the only woman among the detained reporters”. That’s true, there were no women among other detained reporters.
But President Zyazikov did not consider any incidents to happen in the Republic. “It’s usual situation” he said about my mentioning events in Nazran. It looks like it is every Saturday that in his Republic the OMON (special police unit) shoots the crowd of teenagers and they respond with Molotov cocktail bottles.
Murat Magomedovich reasons unemotionally about the protesters’ requirements:
”Who are those people to require that I talk with them? I wouldn’t go out with them to work in same field! They are spiteful because the life is getting better in the Republic. Roads are built, kindergartens are open. They cannot understand one thing – here his tone changes for threatening – It’s me who defines the priorities. I am the master here.”
The President speaks nicely about roads and kindergartens but seems to underestimate the force opposing him.
Generally, Ingush militia’s attitude to the rioters is rather sympathetic. And this is reciprocal. During the last Saturday’s meeting, the column of the demonstrators that was going to the Concord Square, chose intentionally the longer around way. I asked them why they didn’t go straight.
”There are our Ingush militia men there. We do not want to cause problems for them.”
There have been cases of retiring by militia employees on the eve of some mass actions. But even those who keep working, they understand: in some cases the adat matters more than the law. So the “reinforced contingent” has to be always present in Ingushetia.
Here is a remarkable case. A few days after a Russian teacher’s Vera Dragonchuk’s family was slain, a fight occurred in the settlement of Karabulak between the local police and the attached FSB officers. On that day, Apti Dalakov, 20, had been shot and then announced to have been involved in the crime. Prosecutor Turygin commented the incident this way:
”2 September Dalakov was killed during a special operation. We did not have precise information about his involvement in the Dragonchuk’s murder. Nonetheless, some ammunition was found near him, and the conclusion was made about his participation in the mentioned crime. The criminal case against him was stopped due to his death”.
Yuri Nikolayevich speaks in an emotionless tone; he seems to be absolutely sure about Dalakov’s case. But the residents of Karabulak describe the incident a bit differently: all the small town saw unidentified people in mufti shoot the unarmed neighbor-guy who was lying on the ground.
Just after the murder of Apti Dalakov the police arrived at the scene and fighting between them and mufti people began. The police group won and the killers were caught. However, they were released after a while. Apti had been dragged to the kindergarten’s territory and now the grenades were lying near his body. That time the police had to give up but that does not mean it will be always so.
* Following victims have been shot in Ingushetia during recent months: teacher Lyudmila Terekhina with her two children; the husband and two sons of the teacher Vera Dragonchuk; Natalia Muradova, doctor at a blood transfusion station; Russian family of Kortikovs and their neighbor Tatiana Nemova; Koreans father and son Lagai; three members of a gypsy family Lyulyakovs; guest-workers at brick-making plant Ponomarev, Butusov and Oskin; workers of a railroad repairing shop, Armenians Avetisov and Khurshudyan.