Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Moving North we have.....more trouble

The Russian invasion of Georgia over the conflict in South Ossetia raised many questions about Russia's stance on break-away regions. They had widely condemned the West for its support of Kosovar independence, yet seemed to support it for South Ossetians. This precedent may be tested again as tensions rise just north of the border with Georgia in the autonomous region of Ingushetia.

The Ingush became part of the Russian empire in 1810 and were part of the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Socialist Repbublic from 1936-1944 when they were disbanded and deported to Central Asia. Upon return at the dissolution of the Soviet Union, they found that their neighbors, namely N. Ossetians, had taken their land. Lawlessness has prevailed their for 15 years, and their is a rising tide of Islamic extremism (several of the Beslan terrorists were from Ingushetia). Many want to be independent of Russia.

On September 12th, the director of the Ingush Motor Vehicle department was assassinated. The problem is he was the president of Ingushetia's first cousin. At the funeral there were many protestors screaming for blood-revenge and invoking the name of Allah. President Murat Zyazikov is pro-Kremlin and a personal ally of Premier Putin. His stance has angered many of the Ingush people and there has been a budding opposition there in recent times. Accidentally, so the Russian police claim, the owner of opposition website ingushetia.ru was shot four times and dumped out of a vehicle after being detained on August 31st(Oops!). On July 3 Russian police officers and a senior intelligence official were killed by separatists. Or organized crime enemies. One can never be sure.

Moscow has criticised Zyazikov for his weak response to the rising unrest. Opposition groups are calling for his resignation or they will declare their independence,"just like Abkhazia and South Ossetia". There have been adequate provocations on both sides. The 'accidental' killing of a popular opposition leader ignited the base seeking independence. The murder of the president's cousin, though not clear who's responsible, is being used to call for oppression of the opposition. This, in turn, is further convincing the minority of their need for a collective front of resistance. These events are incredibly similar to the summer unrest in South Ossetia - which was celebrated with a war.

So, as drones are continued to be shot down and rhetoric exchanged over Georgia, a fresh crisis is awaiting on the way back to Moscow.

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