By Paul Goble
Eyewitnesses report that a large Russian military column was seen in Daghestan near the Chechen border, with some suggesting that this is the first step in a crackdown on Ingush protests, now in their 11th day, and others that it is a show of force by those in Moscow who want to remind Chechnya’s Ramzan Kadyrov where power in the region lies.
A film clip that purports to show the armored column is to be found at facebook.com/groups/418134964913502/?multi_permalinks=1996555297071453%2C1996456907081292%2C1996257730434543¬if_id=1539603288018100¬if_t=group_activity; cf. rusmonitor.com/na-kavkaze-chto-to-nachinaetsya-ogromnaya-kolonna-voennykh-dvizhetsya-v-storonu-ingushetii.html).
Israeli analyst Avraam Shmulyevich says the purpose of the column is unclear but the equipment on view is more appropriate for military action than crowd control and that consequently this Russian move may be designed to send a signal to Chechnya just as Moscow did in 2014 with Tatarstan after the Crimean Anschluss (rusmonitor.com/avraam-shmulevich-o-konflikte-v-ingushetii-kreml-podzhigaet-kavkaz-chtoby-sprovocirovat-stolknoveniya.html).
That was the most dramatic but hardly the only development in the Ingush crisis over the last 24 hours. Among the others:
- Ruslan Gorevoy, a prominent Moscow commentator, floated the idea that Moscow should oversee the reunification of Ingushetia and Chechnya – they had been one republic before 1991 – both to end the controversy about borders between them, to prevent the conflict from growing and to restart the regional amalgamation campaign (ru/chechnyu-s-ingushetiej-prinuditelno-obedinyat-chtoby-izbezhat-bolshoj-raspri).
- Oleg Kozlovsky, a representative of Amnesty International in Magas, was kidnapped by masked men who identified themselves as employees of the republic security services, according to people who saw the action. Amnesty officials called for his immediate release and for those responsible to be brought to justice (ru/news/5BC460E13FCA8.html).
- The Ingush events are beginning to attract more attention in the mainstream Moscow media, although not yet on television. today offered a long and detailed discussion of the conflict and why it has persisted so Kommersant long (ru/doc/3771161).
- The organizing committee of the Ingush protest has selected the delegation that will meet with Aleksandr Matovnikov, presidential plenipotentiary for the North Caucasus federal district tomorrow (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/326282/).
- Demonstrations and expressions of support for the Ingush protests are coming in from across the North Caucasus, from Georgia and even from the Russian city of Volgograd, an indication that the Kremlin’s efforts to control information about the protest in Magas are failing (media/special/obzory/politicheskiy_krizis_v_ingushetii_razrastaetsya/).
- The protests again today reiterated that they will not end their protests until the border accord is annulled. That means that as of Wednesday, they will be putting Yevkurov in a difficult position as his government has given permission for demonstrations only through that day (com/a/29543924.html).
- Law enforcement agencies said today that the demonstrations had been completely law abiding and that there had not been a single detention or warning of an administrative violation so far (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/326282/).
- The demonstrators got their cell phone networks back – shortly after Yunus-Bek Yevkurov had his telephone call with Vladimir Putin who told him to speak with the protesters rather than disperse them by force (com/2018-10-15/v_ingushetii_zarabotal_mobilnyy_internet_posle_intervyu_evkurova_ehu_moskvy).