Mon Nov 23, 2009 7:45am GMT
(Repeats Nov. 22 report without changes to text)
* Ingush leader says state corruption aids militants
* Pledges to punish corrupt officials more severely
By Amie Ferris-Rotman
MOSCOW, Nov 22 (Reuters) - The leader of Russia's Muslim republic of Ingushetia, who narrowly survived an assassination attempt in June, conceded on Sunday that widespread state corruption was helping an Islamist insurgency in the region.
He declined to say what proportion of officials were corrupt, but acknowledged the problem was bad enough to fuel a cycle of violence and crime that has put his impoverished region at the heart of mounting violence across the North Caucasus.
"Bandits give money to officials, knowing they can be easily paid off," Yunus-Bek Yevkurov told Reuters in an interview during a trip to the Russian capital. "This in turn means officials are (aiding) the terrorists and militants."
He added that law enforcement agencies were also behind eight kidnappings this year.
The tall, moustachioed leader, who spent two months in hospital including a fortnight in a coma after a suicide bomber blew up his car in June, said he was banking on a stabilisation programme including harsher punishment for corrupt officials.
When Yevkurov was appointed just over a year ago, he immediately sacked his entire cabinet, pledging to reduce corruption. He admitted his efforts had yet to show progress.
"We underestimated the situation before and this was a mistake ... But I believe in myself, that I will control it by punishment," he said, adding that more officials still needed to be stripped of the power they had amassed in the previous government.
The decorated paratrooper, who led Russian troops in a showdown with NATO forces at Pristina airport during the Kosovo war in 1999, was chosen by the Kremlin to replace Murat Zyazikov, whom rights groups accuse of murder and corruption.
Yevkurov is largely credited with securing an aid package from the Kremlin worth 32 billion roubles ($980 million) over the next six years.
Over half of Ingushetia's economically active population are unemployed, and 90 percent of the region's revenues are subsidies from Moscow.
He aims to use the aid package to develop the economy and create jobs, in the hope that this will reduce crime.
Armed attacks on authorities and law enforcement agencies are a near daily occurrence in the region of 470,000 people bordering Chechnya, where Moscow has gone to war with rebels twice in the past two decades.
President Dmitry Medvedev has described the North Caucasus as Russia's biggest domestic political problem, and rights groups and analysts say Ingushetia is at war with Islamist rebels.
But Yevkurov rejected the term, saying the violence stemmed from poverty and easy access to weapons, as well as abuses and corruption by law enforcement agencies.
He said his biggest challenge was to prevent "disenchanted, disappointed" young men being drawn into the insurgency by creating more jobs and establishing social programmes.
Having grown up with a surge in violence that started after the Soviet Union fell in 1991, Ingushetia's youth "know nothing but violence, terrorism, and banditry", he said. (Editing by Kevin Liffey) (( For a FACTBOX on Ingushetia, click on [ID:nGEE5AL0BM]
For a FACTBOX on Yevkurov, click on [ID:nGEE5AL0BK] ((firstname.lastname@example.org, +7 495 775 12 42, Reuters Messaging: email@example.com)) ($1=32.55 Rouble)
The other Russia: Letter to Medvedev: ‘Stop this Mad Conveyor of Death’
November 20th, 2009 • Related • Filed Under
The brother of a murdered Chechen rebel has appealed to Russian President Dmitri Medvedev for help and protection in an open letter published by the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper, reports Gazeta.ru on November 19.
According to the report, Isa Yamadayev says in the letter that his life is in danger, and he asks for personal support from the president. “One after another my brothers are killed. In 2003 militants killed Yamadayev Dzhabrail. In 2008 in Moscow they killed Ruslan Yamadayev; in the United Arab Emirates my brother Sulim Yamadayev was shot. Now the hunt is open for me,” he says.
Yamadayev refers in the letter to common speculation in the press that the Kremlin has given carte blanche to Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, and therefore closes its eyes to the murders of political opponents in the region.
“Is it really so that now, without analysis, all opponents of Kadyrov are declared enemies of Russia and can be killed? Human rights advocate Natalya Estemirova of Memorial, killed in 2009, Movladi Atlangeriyev, kidnapped in Moscow in 2007, and then killed in Chechnya, the president of Konvers-Group Aleksandr Antonov and his anonymous guard, killed in Moscow in 2009. They are what, also enemies of Russia?” the letter asks.
Yamadayev says that he sees only one answer to this question: That President Medvedev is not informed of the true state of affairs concerning the investigation of these crimes.
At the end of his letter, Yamadayev expresses certainty that he will also be killed, and asks Medvedev “to stop this mad conveyer of death.”
The Yamadayev brothers were former allies of the Kadyrov family in Chechnya, but their relationship took a turn for the worse after the death of former President Akhmad Kadyrov in 2004. Relations between the clans spoiled altogether after a crash between the Kadyrov motorcade and a convoy driven by Badrudi Yamadayev.
Several months after the crash, Ruslan Yamadayev was shot and killed in Moscow. In March 2009, unknown persons shot Sulim Yamadayev; one of the suspects had close ties to President Ramzan Kadyrov. The Times newspaper in London cites Sulim’s killing as the sixth violent murder of Kadyrov opponent in a row. Isa Yamadayev had stated in May that he believed his life to be in danger.
The Kremlin-backed Kadyrov regime in Chechnya has recently come under fire for murdering members of opposition forces, a charge that both the Kadyrovs and the Kremlin deny. Nevertheless, the murdered Yamadayev brothers are among a number of other recently targeted opponents. Former Kadyrov bodyguard Umar Israilov was assassinated in Vienna after becoming a critic of the regime. Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, the president of a breakaway Chechen republic, was killed in exile by Russian military intelligence in 2004.