October 5, 2009 / 4:45 PM / 10 years ago

Ingush leader sacks his cabinet over poverty, crime

* Yevkurov says official inaction breeds poverty, crime

(Adds Yevkurov’s quotes, colour)

By Dmitry Solovyov

MOSCOW, Oct 5 (Reuters) - The president of Russia’s troubled Ingushetia, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, sacked his government on Monday, saying the cabinet had failed to alleviate the region’s widespread poverty which breeds violence.

Ingushetia, a tiny republic in Russia’s North Caucasus, has been rocked by a string of rebel attacks, including one in August when a truck packed with explosives blew up at police headquarters, killing at least 25 people and wounding 136.

Yevkurov, who was badly wounded in a suicide bomb attack in June, fired his cabinet "for its unsatisfactory work in resolving social and economic problems of the republic", presidential spokesman Kaloi Akhilgov told Reuters by telephone.

Russia’s central television later showed a tense and steely-eyed Yevkurov addressing a sullen audience of officials.

"I signed this decree today. I am forced to take these measures, though it is an extremely difficult decision," Yevkurov said, a fresh scar visible on his right cheekbone.

Stressing an urgent need to put an end to the current wave of violence in Ingushetia, he said: "There must be a limit to this free-for-all. Much of the guilt for this resignation lies with you, the ministers sitting here."

Yevkurov, a battle-hardened former paratrooper general installed in the region by the Kremlin a year ago, has repeatedly said that apart from extremist Islam it is deep-rooted local corruption and poverty that push many local young people into the hands of Muslim rebels.

"One of the main tasks of the government was namely to fight these negative issues," Akhilgov said. "And because they did not cope with the task, the cabinet was sacked."

Yevkurov said Alexei Vorobyov, the head of Ingushetia’s Security Council, would serve as acting government head until a new cabinet was appointed.

Yevkurov and other leaders of the turbulent North Caucasus region warned Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in August that an Islamist insurgency had permeated all spheres of society.

The Kremlin is worried both by the immediate threat of destabilisation in the North Caucasus, and the possibility that radical Islamism may spill over into other regions in Russia, which is home to some 20 million Muslims. (Reporting by Dmitry Solovyov)

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