Suddenly and unexpectedly, the leaders of the two republics, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov and Kadyrov agreed to the border, with the former clearly recognizing in advance that his own population would never approve it and the latter not caring whether that was the case because he had Moscow behind him.
According to Preobrazhensky, Yevkurov found himself between “three fires: his own patriots, the Kremlin patriots, and the Kadyrov patriots. [He] calculated that the Ingush were for him the most secure, but judging by the protest reaction, he was wrong.” But so too was Moscow for supporting Kadyrov and allowing things to come to such a pass.
“The dividing line between Chechnya and Ingushetia” is not just an administrative line but “a border between two legal worlds.” In Chechnya, the authorities attack human rights workers with impunity and people often disappear. In Ingushetia, while “hardly a paradise from the point of view of Western standards of democracy, has a completely different legal situation.”
On the Ingush side of the line, lawyers and courts actually function, the local militia does not consist of former militants who fought the Russian state, and women, while separated as one might expect in a Muslim region, are not violently attacked for their “’inappropriate’” dress, the Russian commentator says.
“It is possible that no one says this in public, but certainly,” Preobrazhensky says, “the Ingush intuitively understand that when they took part in a meeting against Yevkurov, they were at the same time acting as opponents of Kadyrov’s Chechnya.” Again Moscow should have known that would have been the case but didn’t.
“Judging from news reports,” he continues, Moscow considered these distinctions and the history of Ingushetia’s borders to be second-order issues.” But they aren’t in this case, and they won’t be if Moscow allows other border changes to occur or sponsors border changes in the name of regional amalgamation.
If the Kremlin doesn’t recognize this and the importance borders have for many people in the Russian Federation, it may see some new borders emerge that it doesn’t want just as Moscow did when the USSR came apart.