For the first time name “Evkurov” became well-known in June 1999. Those days Russian peacekeeping battalion under his command captured an air base in Pristine (Kosovo) after a 300-km sudden drive from Uglevik (Bosnia). It was Evkurov who had talks with a NATO parliamentaire sent to resolve a military-political crisis that could be by far not of a local importance.
This parliamenterie was captain Jackson, a son of the British Contingent Commander. He was just 1-2 hours late with his HQ company to fulfill the same objective. His father, who later became the Commander-in-Chief of the British Army, writes in his memoirs that his son met with a Russian officer, who “looked like Gypsy, was a bit nervous, trying to get in phone contact with somebody, but rather polite, ironic and quick-witted”.
The last feature is politically significant. NATO Deputy Commander for Russian Peacekeepers General Zavarzin who was together with the paratroopers, did not want to speak with a Her Majesty junior officer. However, it was General Jackson who settled the aerodrome crisis. After the report of his son, he refused to fulfill an order of his boss American General Clark “to apply force to remove the Russian advance guard”. They say this breach of the chain of command was authorized by Premier Bair as advised by his wife who recently became the Catholic. By the way it was the time when the Holy See once again was seeking rapprochement with the Russian Orthodox Church.
Already in a year Lt.-Colonel Evkurov was again in the public focus, this tine in Chechnya. Lt.-Colonel Evkurov, Acting Chief of Reconnaissance, Tactical Group of the 217th Airborne Regiment, distinguished himself by the capture of villages Shali and Avturi. However, the Star of the Hero of Russia was awarded to him for liberation of 12 Russian POWs by his paratroopers. Somebody of his comrades-in-arms believes that it would be more correct to award other officer but the country needed the Caucasian Heroes. Yet nobody disputes the combat experience and paratrooper’s nature of Evkurov. By the way he was awarded the Order of Red Star before 1991. What for? We will tell you when he allows. And on June 1, 2000 everybody saw on TV President Putin awarding him the “Golden Star”.
Obviously the highest award of the country helped the reconnaissance officer to enter the Academy of General Staff and later become the Deputy Chief of Staff, Volga-Urals Military Command, in the city of Yekaterinburg. Evkurov relied on the support of well-known Chechen War General Shamanov and had good personal relations with still influential ex-Commander of the Airborne Troops General Shpak. Is it enough for the presidency? It’s a rather difficult question. Success of the head of region depends not only on his successful military career. Yet in local comprehension it is a ground for respect by at least his countrymen. Simultaneously the non-formal ties are not less important. Somebody who says that the military past of the President places him above the complicated relations between the virds, teips and tuhkums, is just dodging. In the Caucasus the blood and teip (community) relationship is more effective even than the President’s degree.
Colonel Yunus-Bek Evkurov was born in North Ossetia in a large, means “correct”, Ingush family (10 brothers and sisters). In the his origin, which is significant for the Caucasus, he is from teip Ortshoi, according to other data – teip Hulhoi.Both teips in terms of their informal influence on the situation in Ingushetia occupy an above-average position in the society. However, his marriage (by the way in 2007) to a girl of Kodzoyevs family was even more important. The Kodzoyevs were always in close relations with the Aushevs. By the way it was Aushevs family that named Evkurov as a possible candidate in place of Zyazikov. The influence of the Aushevs in Ingushetia is comparable with that of the Pliyevs in Ossetia. All of them are nationally recognized moral leaders.
Another fact is not less important. In seems that the candidacy of Evkurov was supported by influential Caucasus tycoons: Gutseriyev, Head of Rosneft, and Kelygov, Ex-State Inspector for Ingushetia and comrade-in-arms of first Ingush President Aushev in Afghanistan. Believe me: it is important even if the Colonel himself is not very much sophisticated in the business-politics affairs. The short but weighty biography of Evkurov is solid. His predecessor FSB General Zyazikov despite his federal reputation in former Checheno-Ingushetia failed to adapt to the Ingush realty. Even in the times of Aushev the Republic had a reputation of a rear base for Chechen criminal-separatists.
Today as the general Caucasus terror component weakened, the severity of relations between the population and security men (often stationed from outside) has been complemented with a series of scandals with the human-right defending opposition actually grown up by Zyazikov himself. In this situation President Medvedev replaced the KGB man with a paratrooper. For soft men never serve in the Airborne Troops, never capture aerodromes and never liberate prisoners. The time will tell the future of this man…