The elections in Ingushetia: The North Caucasus and the Kremlin

The first stage of the presidential elections in the republic of Ingushetia has not uncovered the winner. None of the eight candidacies could overcome the legal limit of 50%. State Duma Deputy Alikhan Amirkhanov and deputy presidential envoy in the Southern administrative district Murat Zyazikov will take part in the second stage of elections. The obvious advantage is on Amirkhanov’s side, as he is considered to be a man from the ex-president of Ingushetia Ruslan Aushev’s milieu.

The gap between Aushev’s man and Murat Zyazikov, the Kremlin protege, is rather large. Zyazikov is supposed to do the impossible during the period of three weeks: to win the sympathies of the Ingush people and do something in order to turn the situation in his own favor. This will be a hard goal to execute, even for the political technologists of the Kremlin, who made 19% for Zyazikov from nothing, actually. The leader of the presidential marathon, Alikhan Amirkhanov, obtained 31.5% of votes. The third person in line is Mukharebek Aushev with 17.3%, the leader of the association ADEPT. Acting President of Ingushetia, Ahmed Malsagov, only got 14%, in spite of the fact that he was considered to be one of the favorites of the presidential race.

Amirkhanov's victory is a victory for the Kremlin. This may seem strange, but it is true. The scandal that happened with Khamzat Gutseriyev (the head of the Home Affairs Ministry of the republic, his candidacy was withdrawn from the election campaign) did not help Zyazikov in obtaining a larger number of votes, as the Kremlin was hoping for.

Ruslan Aushev, the ex-president of Ingushetia, supported three candidacies at the elections: Gutseriyev, Amirkhanov, and Malsagorov. There were many who did not like such multiple support, but the dislike was in vain. Aushev did not strongly sympathize with any of the three people, but he was pushing the population to elect one of those three candidacies. No matter what people might say, Ruslan Aushev enjoys significant influence in the republic. That is why the majority of the people voted for those who had been pointed out by Ruslan Aushev. Therefore, one may say for sure that the Kremlin lost the first stage of the elections.

The Kremlin concentrated the whole of its attention on Gutseriyev, having forgotten about his competitors. The Kremlin was also working with Gutseriyev’s brother, Mikhail Gutseriyev, the head of the petroleum company Slavneft. There was information in the press that claimed that Mikhail Gutseriyev could be dismissed from his position: the major shareholder of the company, the Ministry for Property Relations, suspected him of funding the elections in Ingushetia. Was this true or not? It does not matter now, as his brother will not become president and the Kremlin’s attitude to the head of Slavneft could change if Zyazikov wins the second stage, which is very unlikely to happen.

As Gazeta.Ru believes, the biggest thing that the Moscow political technologists can do is to play the same game they did during the gubernatorial elections in the Primorye region.. Back in those days, the notorious Viktor Cherepkov was withdrawn from the race contrary to the election laws, and Gennady Apanasenko, the deputy presidential envoy in the Far East, took his place. Apanasenko lost the elections anyway. In Ingushetia, the Kremlin may try to substitute Amirkhanov for a weaker candidacy, but Ingushetia is not Primorye. The experiments in the North Caucasus can lead to lamentable consequences.

Ingushetia.Ru carried out an opinion poll on March 2-3 in the republic. The question was, “Who of the registered candidacies would you like to see as the president? Murat Zyazikov received the largest percent, 21.7%; Ahmed Malsagov was the second with 16.7%; and Alikhan Amirkhanov received only two percent, the present favorite. There you go.


Alikhan Amirkhanov. Born February 17, 1956 in the city of Frunze. He graduated from the State Institute of Culture and from the Economic Department of the Chechen-Ingush State University. He started his career as a worker, then he started working in the Communist Party. In 1995, he became the head of the administration of the free economic zone of Ingushetia. Since 1997, he worked as the head of the Center for development of business in Ingushetia. In 2000, he became the first vice premier of the Ingush government and the chairman of the state committee for investments and construction. Amirkhanov is married and has four kids. At present, he is a deputy of the State Duma; his authority as a deputy started on April 15, 2001. Amirkhanov is a member of the Unity faction and also a member of the Duma committee for Federation’s affairs and the regional politics. Amirkhanov became a deputy owing to the support from President Ruslan Aushev and Mikhail Gutseriyev.

Murat Zyazikov. Born in the city of Osh, the republic of Kyrgyzstan in 1957. In 1980, he graduated from the History Department of the Chechen-Ingush State University. He worked in the Communist Party and served in the army. He finished the highest KGB courses of the Soviet Union in 1984 and started working in the state security bodies. Since the beginning of the 1990s, he has worked in the Federal Security Bureau of the republic of Ingushetia. In 1996, he became the deputy of the FSB chief in the Astrakhan region of Russia. Afterwords, he was in the staff of the presidential envoy in the Southern administrative district. His military title is major-general. He is married and has three sons. He enjoys support from the presidential envoy in the Southern administrative district, Viktor Kazantsev. On January 28 of the current year, he was appointed to the position of deputy presidential envoy, and, on January 31, he announced on his inclination to run for the presidency. The Kremlin supports him. His candidacy is also supported by the chief federal instructor in Ingushetia, Musa Keligov, the former top manager of the company LUKOIL . Zyazikov is not a public politician, which may become an obstacle for his victory.

Dmitry Chirkin PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

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