Armed Men Break Into Ingush Ex-President's Office
Date: March 13, 2002
The leadership of the Caucasian republic of Ingushetia demands that President Putin and Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov keep their hands off the Indush President's administration. Earlier this week a group of men came into the presidential administration building in Magas. With the help of his armed bodyguards Musa Keligov, a deputy to the presidential envoy in the Southern federal district Viktor Kazantsev, unlocked the office of Ruslan Aushev, and then sealed it up.
The presidential election campaign in the Russian North Caucasian republic of Ingushetia is in the full swing. On April 7 Ingush voters are to elect their new leader. To date 35 people are registered as candidates for the high post.
Ingushetia, one of the poorest Russian regions, that has seen three wars, now sees the new war enveloping that long-suffering land the war between the presidential candidates, primarily, between the Kremlin favourites and the stalwarts of the former president Ruslan Aushev.
Ingush officials informed Gazeta.Ru correspondent that Viktor Kazantsev's aide, the federal inspector Musa Keligov had asked for a meeting with the chief of administration Magomed Markhiyev. However, Keligov failed to specify the purpose of his visit.
Adam Malsagov, the spokesman for the acting president of Ingushetia Akhmet Malsagov, told Gazeta.Ru that on Monday, approximately at 18:30 Musa Keligov together with several bodyguards entered the presidential administration building. The visitors had passes issued in their names, so nobody stopped them.
But once the inspector was inside, he changed his mind and instead of going to see the chief of administration Magomed Markhiyev, he headed in the direction of the office earlier used by the president of Ingushetia Ruslan Aushev. Inspector's bodyguards helped him to force the president's office open, whereupon Keligov closed the door, and sealed it up.
"Keligov himself and his men were well armed, that's why our security guards chose not to resist," the spokesman Adam Malsagov told Gazeta.Ru
Inspector Musa Keligov later explained that by sealing Ruslan Aushev's office he endeavoured to cut short the ex-president Aushev's attempts to use the premises of the republican presidential administration as the pre-election headquarters for his protege Khamzat Gutseriyev.
Under Aushev, Khamzat Gutseriyev headed the republican Interior Ministry. He is considered one of the main candidates in the forthcoming election.
Moreover, not only Ruslan Aushev, but also some of his former subordinates (the former chief of the presidential administration Yakov Mestoyev and his deputy Khamzat Kodzoyev) continue to use the premises.
The federal inspector Musa Keligov claims he has learnt about these wrongdoings from the anonymous reports he received from voters.
It is also worth noting that Keligov's version of Monday events is somewhat different from that of the republican leadership.
Kazantsev's aide alleges that when on Monday he passed by Aushev's office he caught sight of strangers inside. He insisted on their immediate departure whereupon ordered policemen to guard the door.
But the spokesman for Ingush acting president Adam Malsagov assured Gazeta.Ru that Aushev's office had been empty since the day the president resigned.
According to the spokesman, after becoming the acting president of Ingushetia, the chief of the Ingush government Akhmet Malsagov refused to move into Ruslan Aushev's office on principle. "He will do so after he wins the election," his spokesman said. Like many other republican officials, the acting president takes part in the race.
On Monday Ruslan Aushev was away from Ingushetia. He left the republic at the end of the last week.
According to the Ingush spokesman Adam Malsagov, the republican prosecutor Magomed Belkhoroyev was immediately notified of the Monday incident.
On Tuesday the Ingush leadership forwarded official protests to the president Vladimir Putin and to the Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov.
It deems obvious, that Musa Keligov acted at the behest of his boss, the presidential envoy to the Southern federal district Viktor Kazantsev. It is hardly a secret for anyone, that the presidential envoy Viktor Kazantsev strongly backs his deputy General-Major FSB Murat Zyazikov as a candidate for the Ingush presidential post.
There are reasons to believe that the high-placed general has the Kremlin support, too.
In particular, president Putin decreed on conferring a high rank on Murat Zyazikov as soon as the latter announced of his willingness to run for Ingush presidency. Later Putin received both Kazantsev and Zyazikov in the Kremlin.
Kazantsev's protege Zyazikov faces serious rivals Khamzat Gutseriyev, and the State Duma Alikhan Amirkhanov. Khamzat Gutseriyev, whose brother Mikhail heads Russo-Belarusian oil and gas firm Slavneft, has only recently resigned from the post of the republican Interior Minister. Khamzat Gutseriyev enjoys full support of Ruslan Aushev.
According to some observers, the deputy Amirkhanov belongs to the same clan and has registered as a presidential candidate to secure the victory of the pro-Aushev forces in case Gutseriyev is ousted from the race.
But not only pro-Aushev forces in the republic nurse the grudge against the Kremlin envoy's office.
On Tuesday Kommersant Daily published an open letter to the President Putin written on behalf of several candidates to the high post in Ingushetia, including Alikhan Amirkhanov, several republican officials and representatives of tribal clans (teips).
The authors of the letter complained against the filthy methods widely used by the envoy's office in the election campaign. In particular, they alleged, Kazantsev's office exerts strong pressure on the journalists of the state-owned television and radio broadcaster Ingushetia. At the envoy's urgent request, the TV channel's chief Agasiyev was sent to Moscow for training as soon as the election campaign began.
One of the deputies to the chairman of the All-Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Corporation arrived from Moscow to run Ingushetia channel during Agasiyev's forced absence.
Moreover, almost every day more and more officials from the envoy's office arrive in the Republic in order, as they explain, to control the work of the election committees and apply all efforts possible to detect alleged violations in the work of electoral authorities.