Thursday, October 11, 2018

As Both Sides in Ingush Dispute Dig In, Kremlin Keeps Its Distance and Its Silence

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 11 – Over the last 24 hours, both those protesting the border accord with Chechnya and Yunus-Bek Yevkurov who signed it appeared to be digging in for the long haul, with the former attracting more demonstrators to the square and more support from across the North Caucasus and the latter gaining support from Chechens and some in Moscow. 

            But despite the fact that there appears to be a big risk that the protest or its suppression may involve violence or may spread to other republics in the region, the Kremlin has remained silent and distant, with Ingush and their supporters noting that not a single federal politician has come to the republic since the demonstrations began (

            Perhaps the most dramatic developments today were taking place in court, with Yevkurov’s people charging two demonstration leaders, Musa Malsagov and Malsar Uzhakov, with the crime of slandering the authorities (, and with a group of protesters bringing a civil suit against Yevkurov for violating the republic constitution which prohibits giving up territory (

            Other developments today included:

·         Chechen analysts said the protest in Ingushetia was not about the border but part of an orchestrated effort to oust Yevkurov. The Ingush leader and his accord also received backing from Iosif Dikson, the Russian Social Chamber official who oversees nationality relations (

·         Moscow’s independent TV channel Dozhd scheduled a program on the Ingush developments. Before it could begin, police showed up, ostensibly to defend the station against possible disorders. Broadcasters said that they had never been shown such attention before (

·         Yevkurov officials said that Ingushetia had gained 7,000 hectares of land with the border deal, not the 1,000 that independent experts have suggested (

·         Aleksandr Matovnikov, the presidential plenipotentiary for the North Caucasus, invited leaders of the protest movement for another meeting to be held on October 16 (

·         Akhmet Gisayev of the Tsechoy taip says he believes the protests were inspired from the outside by those who do not wish Ingushetia well (, but the Council of Taips of Igushetia denounced Yevkurov’s accord and said their members should not conclude marriages with the Yevkurov family “onto the seventh generation” (

·         Mobile Internet has not been working for the demonstrators but it has been working for Ingush officials (

·         Ever more North Caucasus activists said that the Ingush events were “a precedent” for how they should respond to things their republic governments were doing, according to Tanzila Chabiyev of the Caucasus Section of the Moscow Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology (

Meanwhile, in a commentary for, analyst Igor Yakovenko provided a list of reasons why the position of the protesters makes so much sense in the Ingush context and why those who oppose them are not in tune with the realities of that republic (

First of all, he points out, Article 11 of the Constitution of the Republic of Ingushetia specifies that “the return by political means of territories illegally torn away from Ingushetia and the preservation of the territorial integrity of the Republic of Ingushetia is the most important task of the state.”

Second, Ingushetia is the smallest Russian federal subject except for the four cities which are subjects and has a population density greater than all others except for these four plus Moscow oblast, making any loss of territory a loss to the nation as such and thus a matter of national concern.

And third, Yakovenko says, “the Ingush people formed its identity, its national ‘I’ in opposition to the Russian, Chechen, Ossetin and Georgian ‘Other.’ History and geography have contributed to that; and this in turn explains why the Ingush care so much about defending their borders and about opposing any territorial losses or concessions.

“The latest events,” the Moscow commentator says, “clearly show that the authorities in the Kremlin and in the regions ‘do not feel the land under their feet.’ In the North Caucasus, this loss of feeling can lead to an explosion capable of catalyzing the general collapse of the country.”   

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