Freedom House Welcomes Resignation of Ingushetia's President | Freedom House

Freedom House Welcomes Resignation of Ingushetia's President

Washington

Freedom House welcomes the resignation of Murat Zyazikov as president of the Republic of Ingushetia, a southern territory of Russia which borders Chechnya and Georgia.  

"Murat Zyazikov personified the lawlessness, gruesome human rights violations, corruption and lack of accountability that marred the Ingush government over the past six years," said Jennifer Windsor, Freedom House executive director.

Zyazikov, a former KGB officer, was appointed by Russia’s then-President Vladimir Putin in 2002. During his tenure, Ingushetia witnessed a surge in armed attacks, corruption, kidnappings and extrajudicial killings, with many of these crimes perpetrated by local law enforcement agencies that answered to Zyazikov as well as by federal security services. The reign of Zyazikov brought further limitations on civil liberties, stalled economic development and exacerbated human rights violations, resulting in a public campaign in Ingushetia earlier this year that collected 80,000 signatures calling for Zyazikov’s removal. The total population of the Republic of Ingushetia is about 500,000 people.

One of the most brazen murders during Zyazikov’s tenure occurred in late August.  Magomed Yevloyev—the leading opponent of Zyazikov who organized the signature campaign urging Zyazikov’s removal and owned “ingushetiya.ru”, an opposition website—was detained by Ingushetia’s Interior Ministry authorities and shot in the head "by accident." The murder sparked protests and heightened tensions in Ingushetia, risking civil war in the southern republic.

Freedom House hopes that Ingushetia's interim President Yunus-bek Yevkurov and Zyazikov's eventual permanent successor work quickly to end the impunity of security forces, strengthen the rule of law, and establish an effective working relationship with civil society.

"Developing trust with the population is critically important in Ingushetia, where an insurgency has grown in part because of the authorities' heavy-handed ‘counterterrorism’ tactics and unresponsiveness," said Windsor. “The case of Ingushetia demonstrates that the Kremlin’s decision to abolish public elections for regional leaders has diminished accountability. It is crucial that the next appointed president of Ingushetia curb the rise of violence in the republic while respecting the human rights of all citizens.”

Russia is ranked Not Free in the 2008 edition of Freedom in the World, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and in the 2008 version of Freedom of the Press.

For more information on Russia, visit:

Freedom in the World 2008: Russia
Freedom of the Press 2008: Russia
Nations in Transit 2008: Russia

Freedom House, an independent nongovernmental organization that supports the expansion of freedom in the world, has been monitoring political rights and civil liberties in Russia since 1990.

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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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