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Window on Eurasia — New Series: Ingush Head Says He Relies on Outsiders Because ‘They have No Relatives’ in the Republic


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 Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 30 – Makhmud-Ali Kalimatov, who spent much of his career outside of his native Ingushetia before becoming its head a year ago, says that in many cases, he has chosen other outsiders to work in his government because “they don’t have any relatives here.”

            Many Ingush have criticized him for being an outsider and even more others he has brought in, seeing them as unsympathetic to the concerns of the Ingush nation. But in an interview with Interfax, Kalimatov chose to defend his approach (interfax-russia.ru/south-and-north-caucasus/exclusives/glava-ingushetii-mahmud-ali-kalimatov-respublike-neobhodimo-umenshat-zavisimost-ot-dotacionnosti).

            He said it is critically important to choose people on the basis of experience and professionalism and that the commission he set up to do that has reviewed the cases of 4,000 individuals, out of which he has appointed “about 70.” Kalimatov said that his cadres policy was also intended to lower the average age of officials in Magas.

            Many Ingush will see this as insulting and further evidence that Kalimatov is simply Moscow’s agent rather than their representative, and they will be angered by his youth agenda given that Ingush society is based on deference to the older and more experienced. Getting rid of such people and bringing in outsiders will do nothing to win him support.

            The republic head talked about a wide variety of issues, including the upcoming celebration of the 250thanniversary of the inclusion of Ingushetia into the Russian Empire, reducing its dependence on Moscow by increasing tax collections and cutting the budget, and working to provide enough pre-school institutions and eliminate two-shift schools.

            In addition, he said he is working to overcome unemployment, which now stands at 32 percent, the highest of any federal subject, to boost incomes by promoting small and mid-sized businesses and improve housing and communal services such as the delivery of pure water to residents.

            What he was not asked about and did not mention is the issue that cost his predecessor, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, his position, the giving away to Chechnya of 10 percent of the republic’s lands, and that has roiled the Ingush nation in the months since, with a show trial now in prospect of seven activists the powers that be have identified as “extremist” leaders.

Window on Eurasia — New Series