Staunton, April 26 – Fifteen of the most prominent North Caucasus NGOs issued a joint declaration saying that the North Caucasus is again on the brink of disaster because of the actions of the authorities in Ingushetia and demanded that Moscow talk to the people and restore direct elections to regional and local offices.
“It is obvious,” they declared that officials appointed by Moscow rather than elected by the people no longer feel they have to listen to popular demands. Moreover, such officials often become deeply corrupt and feel they are above the law in all respects. This must change, the 15 NGO leaders said.
Specifically, they called for the restoration of direct elections of senior officials, an end to persecution of activists using their constitutional rights to protest, allow people to speak out on issues of concern to them, to step up the fight against corruption, and to assure that any border changes will occur only after open public discussion and expressions of support.
The response of the authorities has been to increase repression. Now, Ingush activist Izaabella Yevloyev says, officials are detaining any journalist who tries to report on what is going on in the belief that if there is no information in the media, there is no problem (zamanho.com/?p=6872).
In addition, the Ingush government is shipping to other republics some of the people it has arrested already, making it more difficult for their families and lawyers to meet with them and organize their defense (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/334816/).
And in a signal that Moscow prefers the Chechen way of doing business to any other republic leadership, deputies in Kabardino-Balkaria have been forced to accept a senior Chechen official as head of the republic procuracy, an action Ingush and others in the North Caucasus will see as directed at them as well (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/334812/).
But the Ingush opposition has been picking up support beyond the borders of the republic. There have been demonstrations of various kinds, typically followed by detentions and arrests, in Mineralnye Vody, Ust-Kut in Irkutsk oblast, St. Petersburg and Moscow in the last few days (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/334743/).
The Moscow meeting issued an open letter to Moscow officials denouncing the Ingush regime and the central Russian government for not “listening to the voice of society and of simple people” and warned that this failure “can lead to an escalation of tension” there (facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=285327039019795&id=285320439020455).
“We see,” the Moscow demonstrators said, “that the situation not only in Ingushetia but in the entire North Caucasus is heating up.”
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