North Caucasus in 2017: Protests in the light of the decline of authority’s reputation

Prague, April 11.Caucasus Times. Conflict potential in the North Caucasus continues to be very significant. Considering the increase of the domestic political tension in the Republics within the Northern Caucasus, decline of the reputation of the regional authorities jeopardizes the region with new seat of tensions.

Ongoing conflicts between regional authorities and traditional public institutions in Ingushetia, protests of Balkars activists over the land disputes in Kabarino-Balkaria, dissatisfaction of the Chechen activists over human rights violations plus anti-Ingush rallies in North Ossetia serve as a clear illustration of the above mentioned.

Hence, on March 5, 2017 a banal provocation on social networks over renaming Ingushetia into Alania, turned into a thousand-strong protest in Vladikavkaz.

For the North Ossetia, the mentioned issue, inter alia, is connected with the memory from Ingush-Ossetian Conflict in 1992. Mentioned event has exposed pain in the population as the Ingush-Ossetian Conflict continues to have a serious impact on the situation in both North Ossetia and Ingushetia. Today, this problem is acquiring a new urgency to conduct a possible referendum on joining South Ossetia with Russia.

In January 2017, an influential Balkars public organization – Council of Elders of Balkaria threatened the authorities of Kabardino-Balkaria by holding a referendum on separating Balkaria from joint Kabardino-Balkaria Republic and creating a separate autonomy within Russia if the republican authorities do not meet their requirements.

Balkar Elders have requested to revise provisions of the Constitution of the Kabardino-Balkar Republic by amending additional paragraph on equality of two ethnic communities- Kabardia and Balkaria. Moreover, in the frames of the program on rehabilitation of repressed Balkars, “Elders” have demanded to restore “four districts of Balkaria that were existing until March 1944, apart from it, return populated areas Khabaz, Kichmalka, Tashli-Tala, Zhankhotenko, Zaragizh to Balkars districts. Mentioned districts have partially entered the adjoining Baksansky district mostly populated by Kabardians.

The initiative noted above on self-determination of Balkars was sharply reacted by Kabardinian (Circassian) community (the second titular ethnicity in the Kabardino-Balkar Republic). Head of Coordinating Council of Community Organization of Circassian-Adygea,  “Union of Abkhazian Volunteetrs”, “For Peace and Harmony in KBR” and  “Congress of Kabardian Poeple” have sent a  seven page letter to Yuri Kokov, Head of Kabardin-Balkar Republic for signature. By this letter Adygean public figures have offered to the authorities to adopt a republican law on “ethnical territories” enabling to clearly secure those primordial territories for its constituent people that may be separated. In the context of such borders, Adygean organizations have offered to take the territories inhabited by the people after the Balkars community entered the Russia in 1827, or the borders in 1852-1853, time – when territories, economy and population of Balkars  were described with great accuracy in their opinion.

Since by early 2017, in the wake of general economic crisis in Russia, a longtime dispute over the land between the two titular ethnicities has been intensified in Kabardino-Balkaria Republic followed by  heated discussions on social networks.

Considering the increased tension over the Circassian issue being intensified by the ongoing war in Syria, the Balkars protests can become significant source of inter-ethnic tension in both Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkess Republics.

In the light of decreased influence of the radical Islamic groups (The Caucasus Emirate, IK) in the Republics of Kabardino-Balkar, Karachay-Cherkessia and Adygea, Circassian organizations- Khasa and young Circassian bloggers have become actively involved in social networks expressing their own opinions as well as their negative attitude against the protests from Balkars activists.

And Ingushetia also did not stay away from another round of tension in 2016.

Thus, at the end of 2016 and in the beginning of 2017 several conflict knots appeared in Ingushetia. On the one hand, the old conflict between the leader of Ingushetia and influential Teip elders of the Republic has been escalated, on the other – the hidden conflict between the leader of Ingushetia Yunus-bek Evkurov and Muslim clergymen outlined still in the beginning of 2015 turned into an open confrontation. The latest grew into the attempt of liquidating one of the main Muslim bodies in the Republic.

In the beginning of 2016 the authorities of Ingushetia initiated the liquidation of Spiritual Administration of Muslims of RI, so called Muftiate. This happened after the conflict between the leader of Ingushetia Evkurov and the head of Muftiate Issa Khamkhoyev turned into the open confrontation, which developed into the attempt to violently displace the Mufti. Evkurov intended to appoint his loyal Islam clergyman Yakhya Khadziev on the noted position. Though, the supporters of Muftiate hindered authorities by organizing a thousand-strong rally meeting.

As a result, the authorities of Ingushetia established the alternative Muftiate under Islamic organization consisting of theologians loyal to Evkurov, the leader of Ingushetia. Thus, new Administration on Religious Issues appeared under the structure of Administration of RI headed by Islam religious figure Yakhya Khadziev having failed to become a Mufti.

In addition, it is noteworthy to mention that the President elected representative does not carry a special authority within Ingushetia, where there exist up to 12 Islamic communities professing different tarikats, who periodically enter into open conflicts and not only within Ingushetia. Thus, the spiritual representation of the neighbor Republic of Chechnya has negatively responded to one of the most famous religious figure of Ingushetia – Khamzat Chumakov, who was taken in the preventive list by the authorities of Chechnya.

One more event characterizing the internal political situation in Ingushetia as the crisis of the government is a conflict between the leader of Ingushetia Yunus-bek Evkurov and the Council of Teips in Ingushetia, which was established by Evkurov himself in 2009, after he became a leader of the Republic. By the time of establishing the Council of Teips within Ingushetia, the same organization has already existed and registered officially in the region chaired by M. Daskyev.

Limitation of possibilities to realize this or that actual issue in regard to Ingush communities under the status of the leader of Ingushetia; Reformation of the Council, if necessary, as per decision made by the leader of RI without personal opinions of the members of Teips’ Council, etc; became the reason for resentment of the Council’s members, who started to establish the new alternative Council, not an advisory, subordinated body at the moment, but an independent public institution.

The representatives of breakaway part of the Teip’s Council of RI sided with the Teip’s Council of Ingush people. Thus, in the opinion of Tanzil Chabiev – the researcher of the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology under Russian Academy of Science, in 2017 the authorities of Ingushetia faced one more opposition force – the Council of Teips. The same happened in 2008, when an alternative parliament was established consisting 22 representatives of influential Teips of the Republic.

In the opinion of the expert, as per concrete event from the historical tendency standpoint, such processes were observed in Ingushetia during difficult public-political periods characterized by high corruption, clannishness, falling the rating of the government. As it appears the year 2017 will be the same for Ingushetia.     


Caucasus Times Editor-in-Chief Islam Tekushev.


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