Staunton, October 19 – As they did a week ago, thousands of Ingush came to the central square in Magas for Friday prayers, an effective continuation of the protests against the border accord with Chechnya that lasted from October 4 to October 17 especially given the commitment of protest leaders to work toward a Congress of the Ingush People at the end of this month.
But even as they did so (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/326870/), Ingush republic officials backed by or forced by Moscow began a crackdown first against police who went over to the side of the people – some have been purged and others transferred ( ) – and then against protest leaders who are being investigated for tax irregularities (kavkazr.com/a/29551453.html).
Moreover, the Kremlin announced that it was sending a group of Presidential Administration experts to Ingushetia to investigate reports of corruption by some of those who had participated in the demonstrations (). All these acts of harassment, protesters said, are intended to frighten people off; but such tactics won’t work.
The protesters now in their homes rather than in the square are working hard to organize the Congress of the Ingush People which is to convene on October 30. That meeting must represent “the next stage of the struggle” against the border accord, they said ().
Meanwhile, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov celebrated his triumph on the border accord. On the one hand, he taunted Ingush protesters by suggesting that if they staged a protest in Grozny, they’d be lucky to get out alive. And on the other, his government gave awards to officials who prepared the border accord ().
Other developments about the Ingush protests over the last 23 hours included:
· The Daghestani delegation which visited the protests a week ago returned home and reported what they had seen. They called for talks between the sides and urged the formation of a new public movement, “Peace and Development for the Caucasus,” to unite the peoples of the region ().
· A survey of public opinion conducted by the Kavkazr portal found overwhelming support across the North Caucasus for holding a referendum on the Chechen-Ingush border agreement. Such things should not be prepared and agreed to without public assent, North Caucasians said ().