Sunday, October 7, 2018

Tensions Rise in Ingushetia as Protest Continues while Masked Men are Seen on Nearby Roads

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 7 – Tensions appeared to be rising today as nearly a thousand demonstrators in Magas continued their protest against the border accord Yunus-Bek Yevkurov signed with Chechnya head Ramzan Kadyrov even as reports came in that groups of masked men were assembling on the roads into the city.

            There were developments on both sides. The protesters were encouraged by a visit to their site of Ruslan Aushev, the first president of Ingushetia, who came out in support of the demonstration and its demand that any border agreement must be approved by a vote of the population rather than simply promulgated (,  and

            The demonstrators were also encouraged by the support they continue to receive from republic siloviki, Muslim religious leaders, the Internet, and ordinary Ingush who continue to bring food and clothes to those in the square. And they were buoyed by Amnesty International’s call for no use of force in the republic ( and

            The protesters were also encouraged today by reports that three of their number would be meeting with Aleksandr Matovnikov, the Russian presidential plenipotentiary for the North Caucasus Federal District, on Monday and might go on to meet Kremlin officials if needed (

            And to better tell their story, the protesters have now launched their own Telegram channel, Ingushetia-2018 ( In the coming days, that should supplement the Kavkaz-Uzel journalists working in Ingushetia and reporters from outlets further afield who have travelled to Magas in recent days.

            Yevkurov and his regime struggled to keep the roads open in Magas, but there were reports that travel into and out of the city and within the city itself was becoming ever more difficult ( And the republic head went on the offensive against republic parliamentarians.

            A group of 17 of them said yesterday that the parliament had not approved the measure and demanded a vote. Yevkurov rejected that and said that, other reports notwithstanding, there would not be any additional vote and that if anyone was guilty of untoward pressure it was the opponents of the border accord and not him (

            While the government media in Moscow continued to largely ignore developments in Ingushetia, independent media there and increasingly the media in the North Caucasus have been giving ever closer attention, the latter often picking up details Moscow journalists have missed: e.g.,

            Meanwhile, Russian media, both official and independent, to the extent they discussed the developments in Ingushetia at all have tended to focus on the issue of what if any outside interference there may be with speculation ranging from Russia, which is said to want to divide the two Vainakh peoples ( to Ukraine which wants to weaken Russia (

            Despite official calls for demonstrators to disperse at least at night, several hundred of the protesters, including a large number of women and some children, remain in the Magas square tonight, with others planning to return to that venue in order to continue the protest into the new week. 

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