The former head of the administration of the president of the Russian republic of Ingushetia and an ex-minister of construction of the republic are being prosecuted on charges of corruption.
On 11 October, the Prosecutor’s Office of Ingushetia announced that former Minister of Construction Mustafa Buruzhev had been charged with abuse of authority, for allegedly misallocating ₽660 million ($10 million).
The same day, Buruzhev’s former colleague, Muslim Yandiyev, the former head of the presidential administration of Ingueshtia, was also charged with abuse of power.
Both former officials were on the team of the former head of Ingushetia, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov. Buruzhev is also a Yevkurov’s brother-in-law.
Yevkurov resigned in June, following eight months of unprecedented mass protests in Ingushetia over a land deal with neighboring Chechnya. According to the deal, Ingushetia ceded 9% of its territory to the neighbouring republic..
Buruzhev and the glass factory
According to the Prosecutor’s Office, from 2012–2013, Ingushetia’s Ministry of Construction implemented an investment project to build a glass container (primarily bottles and jars) factory in Sagopshi. To help build the plant, they partnered with and transferred funds to investment firm Artis LLC in the amount of more than ₽790 million ($12 million).
According to the prosecutor's office, Artis did not invest any of its own finances into the project. However, the condition for granting subsidies for the implementation of projects from the Russian Investment Fund is that the investor shoulder at least 50% of the total cost.
According to investigators, Buruzhev signed a document on behalf of the Government of Ingushetia falsely attesting that Artis would invest more than ₽660 million into the factory’s construction.
Investigators claim that the former minister allocated funds to the company — which was then meant to use them to fund the plant’s construction — while knowing that it would not invest any of its own money, ‘which entailed causing major damage and a significant violation of the state’s rights and legitimate interests’.
According to Akhmed Pogorov, an opposition activist in Ingushetia who is currently wanted by police on charges relating to his participation in anti-land deal protests in March, the factory was supposed to provide 250–300 people with jobs and produce up to 286 million glass bottles a year.
He also said that the glass container factory was supposed to start operating in 2012 — as of now, it has not yet been built.
This is not Buruzhev’s first tussle with the law. According to a source in the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ingushetia, Buruzhev was arrested in February 2017 suspected of embezzling more than ₽50 million ($780,000) during the construction of a school in the Dzheyrakhsky district in southern Ingushetia.
According to the source, Buruzhev’s familial relationship with Yunus-Bek Yevkurov — their wives are sisters — allowed him to escape punishment.
‘When Yevkurov resigned, there was no one left to cover for Buruzhev. Now he has to account for his actions’, he suggested.
Yandiyev is also suspected of several crimes related to abuse of power in the period 2015–2016, when he was the head of the administration of the city of Karabulak, 20 kilometers north-east of the Ingush capital, Magas.
Yandiyev, who was the head of the administration of the head of Ingushetia from May to September of this year, held leadership positions in the administration and government of Yevkurov since 2013.
He was fired as head of the administration of the head of the republic shortly after Makhmud-Ali Kalimatov replaced Yevkurov as head of Ingushetia.
[Read more on OC Media: Ingushetia’s head to step down after eight months of turmoil]
According to investigators, from 2015–2016, while serving as the head of the administration of Karabulak, Yandiyev issued and signed false land claim documents which allowed certain individuals to claim ownership of lands which did not, in fact, belong to them.
As a result of this, according to the Prosecutor’s Office, the municipality suffered losses in the form of land worth ₽3.2 million ($50,000).
Magomed Bekov, a lawyer and a member of the Rostov Regional Bar Association, told OC Media that Yevkurov was to blame for the corruption under his rule.
‘The system of vicious actions by officials was created under Yevkurov, and I don’t think that large sums of money would have disappeared without his knowledge’, he said.
‘For society, these are significant precedents when they seize corrupt officials and investigate them. I think it will end with several arrests or criminal cases against officials.’
‘If this knot starts untwisting, then naturally it would become necessary to get to the organiser of this whole chain, but I'm not sure that there is a goal to get to the very top level officials.’
Bekov added that he believed ‘these are purely demonstrative cases.’
Yevkurov was also accused of corruption by three members of the Ingush Committee of National Unity: Akhmed Pogorov, Barakh Chemurziyev, and Akhmed Barakhoyev.
The committee was formed in the wake of mass protests in Ingushetia in October 2018 over the Ingush-Chechen land deal. They demanded the resignation of Yevkurov and the cancellation of the agreement.
Chemurziyev and Barakhoyev, together with about 30 other participants of a protest in Magas against the land deal were subsequently arrested and detained on charges of organising and participating in riots during the protest. If convicted, they face up to 10 years in prison.