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Kadyrov Plays The 'Vainakh' Card

Investigators work at the site of a suicide bomb attack in the Malgobek Raion on August 19.
Investigators work at the site of a suicide bomb attack in the Malgobek Raion on August 19.
Predictably, Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov has used the August 19 suicide bomb attack in Ingushetia’s Malgobek Raion as ammunition in his ongoing private feud with his Ingushetian counterpart, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov.

In a statement on August 21 condemning the Malgobek bombing, Kadyrov spoke in the name of the “Vainakh people” – meaning the Chechens and the Ingush – and implicitly laid claim to the role of coordinator of “antiterrorism” measures in Ingushetia, as well as Chechnya. In that latter capacity, he sought specifically to induce the Ingushetian police – the targets of the Malgobek attack – to side with him against Yevkurov.

In previous statements, including his annual addresses on the occasion of the anniversary of the 1944 deportation of both Chechens and Ingush to Central Asia on Stalin’s orders, Kadyrov has generally avoided the use of the term “Vainakh.” Instead, he refers to the Chechens and Ingush as separate but “fraternal” peoples.
Ramzan Kadyrov (right) and Yunus-Bek Yevkurov meet in Grozny in 2008.
Ramzan Kadyrov (right) and Yunus-Bek Yevkurov meet in Grozny in 2008.
Kadyrov denounced the organizers and perpetrator of the Malgobek attack as “genetically not Vainakhs, let alone Muslims,” and claimed they wanted to trample underfoot “those values most precious to the Vainakh people.” He claimed that “the entire Vainakh people support us” in the efforts by Chechen police and security personnel to stamp out the Islamic “terrorists.”

At the same time, Kadyrov implicitly accused the Ingushetian leadership of failing to demonstrate the desired degree of firmness, determination, and willingness to coordinate activities in the fight against terrorism.

While Kadyrov has for years advocated the use of brute force against militants, their families, and the support personnel who keep them supplied with food and medication, Yevkurov, a career military intelligence officer, has espoused a more nuanced approach. Since 2009, he has appealed repeatedly to fighters to lay down their arms. Last year, a government commission was established in Ingushetia on the lines of the one in Daghestan to help militants who surrender adapt to civilian life and find jobs.

Yevkurov has also sought to prevent Chechen police and security personnel from encroaching on Ingushetian territory without prior notification in their single-minded pursuit of suspected insurgents.

Those diverging strategies precipitated a heated public disagreement between the two leaders earlier this month over the circumstances in which two (according to Yevkurov) or three (according to Kadyrov) militants died in an explosion in the Ingushetian village of Galashki, and their identities.

Kadyrov claimed that Chechen security personnel launched an operation at Yevkurov’s request to kill three veteran Chechen fighters in Galashki, after which Yevkurov asked the Chechen side to state publicly that Ingushetian forces, too, had participated in the operation. Yevkurov denied this point-blank, whereupon Kadyrov warned that if Yevkurov is incapable of “restoring order” in Ingushetia, or has no interest in doing so, “we shall do it for him.”

In his statement pegged to the Malgobek bombing, Kadyrov sought to win over the embattled Ingushetian police, for who for years have been the main target of the insurgency. He reassured Ingushetian Interior Ministry personnel that “you can rely on any help and support from the Chechen republic, its leaders, and people.”

He also announced that he will cover the religious funeral expenses of the seven police officers killed in the Malgobek attack and distribute meat and other foods in their memory to “hundreds” of needy families.

The Ingushetian opposition website, which increasingly sides with Kadyrov in his feud with Yevkurov, reported that the families of the seven men killed have complained that the 100,000 rubles ($3,137) compensation Yevkurov has offered is miserly, especially compared with the 1 million rubles to which families affected by the Krymsk flooding are entitled.

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.


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