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The Caucasus Network: Special Forces Blogger, Hard Ingush

Photo of from LJ user Hard Ingush's profile page on LiveJournal. Screenshot.

Photo of from LJ user Hard Ingush's profile page on LiveJournal. Screenshot.

This article is part of an extensive RuNet Echo study of the North Caucasus blogosphere. Explore the complete report and personal stories on The Caucasus Network page.

Based in Ingushetia, Hard Ingush (who wished to remain anonymous) claims to be a law enforcement officer in the Special Forces. In the last couple of years, he has been a leader of the North Caucasus’ blogosphere.

His LiveJournal blog enjoys traffic averaging ten times higher than anything once hosted in the “top regional blogs” section of the now defunct website, PublicPost. Timur Agirov’s Caucasian LJ blogosphere database also ranks him as one of the community’s most popular bloggers.

Hard Ingush’s blogging generally features detailed insights about recent police special operations, usually dealing with counter-terrorism. He uses direct and often confrontational language, writing in a vocabulary that is a mix of formal legal terms and Russian police slang.

He frequently addresses the insurgency movement in derogatory terms, portraying its members as a group of lazy individuals with only themselves to blame for the failures of their campaign. In his blogging, Hard Ingush takes what we might call an “informational approach,” sharing allegedly real life examples of police work. 

Hard Ingush agreed to an interview conducted over email, and answered questions with as little detail as possible (in stark contrast to the other bloggers interviewed for this project, who clearly invested significant amounts of time into their responses). Hard Ingush simply answered “yes” or “no,” whenever possible.

While he says that his blogging has not affected his life outside of the Internet, he does acknowledge that his online activity has introduced him to a number of other law enforcement agents.

Hard Ingush states he has never encountered any type of censorship and insists he does not censor his own writing, except to conceal the identities of the individuals about whom he writes. (This includes both colleagues and criminal suspects, though he sometimes reveals the true names of police officers killed in the line of duty.) Hard Ingush amassed a loyal following almost instantly, and he continues to receive anywhere between 200-3000 comments for every blog post. His audience consists of both supporters and critics, making the comments section on his blog a space for heated debates.

Hard Ingush writes exclusively in Russian. Indeed, his command of the language indicates a high level of education. He occasionally links to other bloggers’ content for images and videos, which he does not produce himself.

Hard Ingush is also one of the more outspoken and interesting bloggers of the region. Per post, he typically receives and produces more than ten times as many comments as his Moscow-based counterpart, Omon Moscow (another anonymous blogger, allegedly managed by a police officer, albeit with very different tone and delivery style). It remains unclear whether or not the two are connected.

In comments on Hard Ingush’s blog, critics routinely accuse him of being a public relations project by the government—something Hard Ingush mocks openly in the introductory post on his LiveJournal blog.

(The theory, of course, is conspiratorial, and while it is most likely incorrect, such suspicions are not uncommon on the RuNet—and for good reason. Of Russia’s many PR agencies, several manage sophisticated, long-term projects aimed at influencing public opinion in favor of the state. For example, one of such agency, “Agency1 Ru,” is responsible for creating groups in support of Putin.)

Whether or not Hard Ingush’s blogging is state-managed or independent (“astroturf” or “grassroots”), he is undeniably controversial and popular online, regionally in the North Caucasus, and in Russia nationally.

This article is part of an extensive RuNet Echo study of the North Caucasus blogosphere. Explore the complete report and personal stories on The Caucasus Network page.

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