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Ingushetian Parliament Endorses Russian As Prime Minister

Ingushetia's new prime minister, Aleksei Vorobyov addresses the republican National Assembly in Nazran on October 20.

Ingushetia's new prime minister, Aleksei Vorobyov addresses the republican National Assembly in Nazran on October 20.

Ingushetia's parliament voted on October 20 with only two abstentions to approve republican Security Council Secretary Aleksei Vorobyov as prime minister.

Ingushetian President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov had brought Vorobyov, a Federal Security Service (FSB) general, to Magas early this year, just months after he himself was named president, and selected him to serve as acting prime minister after he dismissed Rashid Gaysanov and the entire cabinet on October 5.

Gaysanov, 37, is an economist who served from late 1999-2002 as economy minister under President Ruslan Aushev, and then from 2006-08 on the staff of the Russian presidential envoy to the Southern Federal District. Yevkurov named him prime minister in November 2008.

Yevkurov's stated rationale for dismissing the cabinet was twofold: the failure of certain unnamed ministers to discharge their responsibilities, and corruption. He said the problem was not Gaysanov, but Gaysanov's infelicitous distribution of cabinet posts that obstructed the effective and coordinated functioning of the government as a whole.

Gaysanov admitted in a brief statement on October 6 that "there was much that we did not succeed in doing." At the same time, he listed as his cabinet's positive achievements maintaining stability (following the June 22 assassination attempt on Yevkurov) and drafting programs for resolving the most pressing socioeconomic problems.

Ingush opposition politician Magomed Khazbiyev, however, told the Russian daily "Kommersant" that he is convinced that Yevkurov's primary objective was to get rid of Gaysanov because of what Khazbiyev termed the latter's "inappropriate behavior" during the two months (from late June to late August) when Gaysanov assumed the post of acting president while Yevkurov was recuperating from the abortive attempt on his life.

Vorobyov's appointment is likely to intensify the rift within the small but vocal Ingush opposition. Khazbiyev, who heads the more radical wing, has gone on record as arguing that the republic's prime minister should be an Ingush, not a Russian.

"Who is Vorobyov? Where is he from? And what does he know about Ingushetia?" Khazbiyev asked rhetorically. "There are good lads in Ingushetia, and 10,000 Vorobyovs aren't capable of accomplishing what they could," he added.

By contrast, Maksharip Aushev of the moderate opposition faction that agreed to support and cooperate with Yevkurov positively assessed Vorobyov's track record since his appointment as Security Council head. Aushev described Vorobyov as "courageous" and "a professional who is well acquainted with the situation in the republic." He said he would support Vorobyov's candidacy as prime minister if Yevkurov proposed it.

Oksana Goncharenko of the Center for Political Forecasting has pointed out that Yevkurov was in a difficult position given the limited number of competent and trustworthy personnel to choose from within the republic (which has a total population of just over 500,000). But, she continued, if he therefore opts to bring in people he trusts from outside Ingushetia, with Moscow's support, there is no guarantee that they will prove capable of working side by side with the local political elite, especially given that Ingushetia remains "a traditional clan-based society."

Vorobyov now has until the end of October to select his new cabinet.

About This Blog

This blog presents analyst Liz Fuller's personal take on events in the region, following on from her work in the "RFE/RL Caucasus Report." It also aims, to borrow a metaphor from Tom de Waal, to act as a smoke detector, focusing attention on potential conflict situations and crises throughout the region. The views are the author's own and do not represent those of RFE/RL.