by Valery Dzutsev
17 November 2009
The murder of a moderate Ingush opposition figure casts yet more doubt on the future of the troubled Russian republic.
Following the murder of a prominent opposition figure, Ingushetia’s president, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, made an unprecedented statement, saying that he did not exclude the law enforcement agencies’ involvement in the killing of Maksharip Aushev.
“It was hard for me to hear the news of Maksharip’s murder. It is first of all a blow to my authority,” Yevkurov said in an interview for the Russian liberal-leaning radio Ekho Moskvy.
Aushev, a businessman-turned-opposition leader, was gunned down on 25 October on a highway in the neighboring Kabardin-Balkaria republic. The attack shook Ingushetia and has further undermined efforts by the Kremlin to pacify the region, as well as weakening the position of Yevkurov, a relatively moderate leader who himself survived an assassination attempt earlier this year.
Ingushetia, plagued by frequent Islamist violence as well as widespread abuse of power by government forces, may now face another cycle of bloodshed as the legal Ingush opposition has suffered yet another serious blow. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch called on the Russian government to conduct a thorough investigation of Aushev’s murder. The killings of three human rights defenders last summer in neighboring Chechnya remain unsolved.