President of Kalmyk autonomous republic Kirsan Ilyumdzhinov is telling the Kremlin that if Moscow dismisses him, there will be the second Chechnya in Kalmykia.
Meanwhile, in republic’s capital Elista political hunger-strike with the demand to dismiss President Kirsan Ilyumdzhinov, is in progress. The hunger-strike started on May 21, simultaneously with Women’s World Chess Championship beginning, and continues after the championship was finished.
The action was initiated by Basan Gorodovikov and Boris Andzhaev – well-known politicians in the republic who made the statement that they were protesting “against anti-people rule of Ilyumdzhinov – oppressor of civil rights and freedoms in Kalmykia”.
13 more people (including 5 women) have joined the hunger-strike. On June 6 the opposition consisting of regional branches of several political parties, organized picketing in support of the protesters. More than 500 people from different regions of Kalmykia participated.
The participants of the picketing denounced Kalmykia’s being donor for FIDE (International Chess Federation whose President is Mr. Ilyumdzhinov), “We don’t want holidays in poverty-stricken region. When you, participants of the chess championship, are enjoying yourselves with the concerts of the poverty-stricken performers and dinners in expensive restaurants, the majority of children in Kalmykia have no enough food. Poor Kalmykia cannot be donor and money-bag for FIDE!”
“The authoritarian regime of carpet-bagger Kirsan Ilyumdzhinov has existed in the republic for 11 years. According to Russian human rights activists, Kalmykia holds the record of abusing human rights. Prosecution of political opponents, physical assaults on opponents and the murders of those who “know too much” became ordinary things in Kalmykia. Republic’s law-enforcers are involved in prosecuting Ilyumdzhinov's opponents. This should be stopped, otherwise such methods will be spread around Russia like cancer tumor”, said spokesman of Kalmyk Human Rights Center Sergey Ageev at the press-conference on April 14.
There were some more demonstrations in Kalmykia against the regime of Kirsan Ilyumdzhinov in December of 2003. The protesters were indignant with Kalmyk authorities’ breaking the law and the rights of voters during the elections in Russian and Kalmyk parliaments. The people who came on December 8, 2003 on the central square of Elista, requested canceling the results of the elections and President Ilyumdzhinov’s resignation. There were non-stop pickets of the building of Kalmyk government for 72 hours. To give Kirsan Ilyumdzhinov political support, Russian President’s Envoy in Southern Federal District Sergey Kazantsev and Deputy of Russian Public Prosecutor Sergey Fridinsky. Simultaneously, up to 2,500 troops of Interior Ministry were sent to Kalmykia from the neighboring regions, upon Mr. Ilyumdzhinov’s request, to disperse the protesters. All this stopped the picketing.
According to Semen Ateev, Ilyumdzhinov’s regime is using all its resources and connections to keep silence in Russia about the situation in Kalmykia. This is proved by the fact that Russian national media from time to time publish stories praising Kirsan Ilyumdzhinov.
Chairman of the Executive Committee for Special Congress of Kalmyk People Vladimir Babaev says that “the republic’s authority serve only the interests of the people and groups being close to Ilyumdzhinov. Meanwhile, there is no strategy for development of Kalmykia, and Kalmyk President is involved in many scandals, adventurous projects and provocations. The economy of the republic is not developing on the market basis, Kalmykia is the last in Russia in all basic economic indicators. Living standards are extremely low, industries collapsed, agriculture is in recession. Kalmykia is unable to provide its population with food. High unemployment forces people to leave the republic. Officials are corrupted, capitals are drained out of the republic. Kalmyk authorities press their opponents during election campaigns and falsify election results. The people knowing about the financial affairs of the regime, are murdered. We have the list of the victims of the regime of Ilyumdzhinov, there are well-known people in the republic, on the list”.
Valery Badmaev explained the reasons of the federal authorities’ ignoring the signs of authoritarianism in Kalmykia. According to Badmaev, President Ilyumdzhinov is blackmailing the Kremlin. “Having started the war in Chechnya, Moscow is afraid of repeating similar scenario in Kalmykia. Meanwhile, Kirsan Ilyumdzhinov is trying to persuade the Kremlin that if Moscow dismisses him, there will be the second Chechnya in Kalmykia. However, the situation in Kalmykia is absolutely different, and Mr. Ilyumdzhinov is just lying to Russian authorities”, said the reporter.
Department of Politics