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Zyazikov?€™s Endless Power Struggle

Maksharip Aushev, one of the most influential people in Ingushetia, was gunned down near Nalchik on Sunday. He was murdered the day after he bitterly denounced former Ingush President Murat Zyazikov on “Nedelya,” the analytical news program on Ren-TV hosted by Marianna Maximovskaya.

I spoke with Yakhya Aushev, Maksharip’s father, the day that he was killed. Although he was cautious about assigning blame, he said it might be connected with the statements that his son had just made against Zyazikov on Ren-TV.

Maximovskaya supported this version. “I have the feeling that it was because of us,” she said. “In addition, Maksharip saved the lives of our film crew exactly 10 days ago.”

The “Nedelya” camera crew had been filming a report in Ingushetia about rampant corruption among bureaucrats and relatives in the former Zyazikov administration — in particular, the Zyazikov family mansions in his native village of Barsuki. When the journalists returned to their hotel, unidentified assailants tried to abduct them.

The driver of the film crew was beaten by none other than Ruslanbek Zyazikov, Murat Zyazikov’s cousin who served as head of the personal security detail for the former president of Ingushetia. While the driver was being beaten, the journalists quickly called Maksharip. He arrived at the scene, pulled out a Stechkin pistol and saved the journalists from Ruslanbek’s assault. Maksharip then shuttled the journalists off to close advisers to the current Ingush president, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, to whom they gave testimony about the attack.

On the “Nedelya” program, Aushev said members of the Zyazikov clan paid insurgents to remain alive when they were in power. When Yevkurov replaced Zyazikov, insurgents tried to sabotage Yevkurov and his administration. As an example, he cited Ingush Construction Minister Ruslan Amerkhanov, a Yevkurov appointee. On Aug. 12, while Yevkurov lay in the hospital following an assassination attempt, assailants shot and killed Amerkhanov in his office because he refused to participate in corrupt business deals involving real estate projects.

Maksharip Aushev’s killing might very well be linked to the issue of whether to initiate criminal proceedings in Moscow against the Zyazikov administration for embezzlement of state funds. The Prosecutor General’s Office has been considering opening a criminal case for six weeks. The physical survival of the Zyazikov clan depends on whether those charges are filed.

While Yevkurov lay in the hospital with serious injuries after the assassination attempt, members of the Zyazikov clan tried to strike some sort of deal with Yevkurov’s ministers — with the exception of Amerkhanov. But as soon as Yevkurov returned to work, he dismissed the ministers and the deal fell through.

The murder of Aushev demonstrates that, apart from the obvious disagreement between Yevkurov and the insurgents over the question of creating a trans-Caucasus emirate, there is a less obvious but very deep split between Yevkurov and part of the Zyazikov clan.

The Aushev case is not one of those crimes where the motive and the perpetrator are known immediately. But his murder presents a huge challenge for Yevkurov. His ability to find the killers will prove whether he is really in control of Ingushetia.

And the answer to that question is a matter of life and death for Yevkurov — both politically and literally.

Yulia Latynina hosts a political talk show on Ekho Moskvy radio.

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