Russia's Ingushetia blames U.S. for its instability

The head of the Russian region of Ingushetia, facing protests over the killing of an opposition leader, accused Washington on Monday of stirring trouble with the aim of ending Russian rule in the volatile north Caucasus.

Opposition in the north Caucasus region mounted protests against Kremlin-backed Ingush President Murat Zyazikov after the death of Magomed Yevloyev on Aug. 31 in police custody.

Police said Yevloyev was shot dead when he tried to grab an officer's gun. The European Union and the U.S. have urged Russian authorities to investigate Yevloyev's death, which Europe's democracy watchdog the OSCE called an 'assassination'.

'Comrade Bush has all of a sudden fallen strongly in love with far-away Ingushetia,' Zyazikov told a news conference in a reference to U.S. President George W. Bush. 'The only thing they would build in the Caucasus are military bases.'

'We know what kind of democracy they brought to Iraq and Afghanistan, how they acted in Yugoslavia ... We feel attempts are made to oust Russia from the Caucasus and surround it.'

Yevloyev, who owned the opposition Web site www.ingushetiya.ru, is the most high-profile Russian journalist to be killed since investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya was shot in Moscow in October 2006.

The opposition accuses Ingush security bodies of abductions and murder. Federal forces say they are trying to counter an increase in rebel attacks.

Violence in Ingushetia, which borders Chechnya where rebels and federal forces have fought two wars since 1994, has increased and analysts say it could spread through the region.

Zyazikov, who served in the KGB secret police and is a general of its post-Soviet successor the FSB, is accused by his opponents of corruption and clampdowns on dissent.

But Zyazikov said he wants a transparent investigation into Yevloyev's death.

'By all means, this is a tragedy ... and we are interested more than anybody else to clarify this matter, and we will inform the public about what really happened,' Zyazikov said.

[Source: Thomson Financial News, Forbes, Moscow, 08Sep08]

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