The new commander of the Ingush wing of the North Caucasus insurgency, Emir Ubaydullakh, has affirmed his qualified support
for Khamzat Chumakov, the hugely popular imam of the Nasyr-Kort Mosque on the outskirts of Nazran.
Over the past 10 days, the Ingushetian authorities have repeatedly sought to intimidate
Chumakov, who openly defied a demand by Republic of Ingushetia head Yunus-Bek Yevkurov to resign his post and to cease criticizing the republic's authorities.
In an interview with the Ingush insurgency website Hunafa.com, Ubaydullakh comments that the authorities' harassment of Chumakov is understandable in light of his relentless criticism of their shortcomings. Ubaydullakh predicts that Chumakov may be killed to silence him, as was Magomed Yevloyev
, owner of the independent website Ingushetiya.ru, five years ago.
Alternatively, Ubaydullakh continues, Chumakov may be forced to emigrate, or he may join the insurgency. (The latter course of action seems unlikely, however, given Chumakov's rejection of violence and concerted efforts to dissuade young men from "heading for the forest" to join the insurgents' ranks.)
Ubaydullakh says the insurgency regards Chumakov as "a sincere Muslim who sincerely wants to help his religion and wants good for his people." At the same time, he continues, "we disagree" with Chumakov's focus on secondary, temporal problems, such as corruption, depravity, theft, and bribery, rather than primary, doctrinal issues.
Ubaydullakh goes on to make clear, however, that despite that divergence of views, "we consider [Chumakov] a brother Muslim and on no account want him...to become a victim of the unbelievers.... We do not wish him harm and never have."
Ubaydullakh's overall positive assessment of Chumakov tallies with that given three years ago by Ubaydullakh's predecessor as Ingush commander, Emir Adam (Dzhamaleyl Mutaliyev). When Chumakov was seriously injured in a car-bomb explosion in September 2010, Adam released a statement
denying the insurgency was responsible. He described Chumakov as "one of the few principled, courageous, and unbribable clerics," whose death "could benefit only the enemies of the Ingush people."
Mutaliyev was killed in late May
, earlier reports of his death
having proved premature. No decree by self-proclaimed Caucasus Emirate leader Doku Umarov naming Ubaydullakh Adam's successor has yet been made public.
Yevkurov claimed in a recent interview
that there are no more than 15-20 insurgents left in Ingushetia, and that over the past two years not a single new recruit has joined them.