Staunton, January 31 – After avoiding a discussion of the two border issues which most agitate Ingush – the fate of the Prigorodny district now controlled by North Ossetia and the territory Yunus-Bek Yevkurov ceded to Chechnya – Ingush head Makhmud-Ali Kalimatov addressed both in the course of a three-hour-long press conference.
While many are certain to be pleased that he has broken his silence about these questions, few if any Ingush are going to be satisfied with what he said. With respect to the first, Kalimatov said that he considered it his first task to worry about the fate of Ingush in and from Prigorodny district rather than defining borders. (gazetaingush.ru/obshchestvo/glava-ingushetii-mahmud-ali-kalimatov-provel-bolshuyu-vstrechu-s-zhurnalistami).
More than 400 Ingush were killed in the early 1990s in clashes with Ossetians over the status of this district which had belonged to Ingushetia before that nation was deported but which has not been returned to the Ingush despite the explicit provisions of the Russian law on the rehabilitation of repressed peoples.
That remains a sore point with Ingush, but the more immediate policy challenge for Kalimatov involves the 60,000 Ingush who fled the region at that time, many of whom have yet to be fully integrated into Ingush life, and the much smaller number of Ingush who remain in the Ossetian-controlled Prigorodny district.
With respect to the Ingush-Chechen border changes which have sparked protests since the fall of 2018, Kalimatov said that he was saddened that all this had happened but that those who protested his predecessor’s actions had violated the laws and that legal procedures must be followed and those who violate them must be held accountable.
The republic head said that he was keeping track of what is taking place with those arrested. “This theme is not a taboo for me,” and he said he intervenes when he can make a difference. There is no good reason to make bold “declarations. “Let us hope that everything will settle down and that they (those under arrest) will return home safely.”
Meanwhile, the Prigorodny district issue is heating up from the other side – and in a way that appears likely to cause this issue to displace the Chechen border question at the center of Ingush concerns. Vladimir Lagkuyev, a member of the North Ossetia Social Chamber, has denounced Ingushetia for its exploitation of the law on the rehabilitation of repressed peoples (fortanga.org/2020/01/vladimir-lakguev-protiv-zakona-o-reabilitatsii-repressirovannyh-narodov/).
Speaking in Moscow yesterday, Lagkuyev said that South Ossetia is “the southern advance post of our country” and that Moscow must defend it against threats from its neighbors who, he suggested, were responsible for the seven terrorist attacks on Ossetians over the last 25 years.
In reporting the Ossetian official’s words, Ingush journalist Izabella Yevloyeva notes that he has “in fact called an entire people terrorist, accusing Ingushetia of the terrorist act inBeslan and also directly declaring that the law ‘On the rehabilitation of repressed peoples’ is contributing to the growth of aggression in Ossetian society.”
In reality, Yevloyeva continues, “it is not the law but its not being fulfilled that is contributing to that.” And Lagkuyev’s desire to force Ingushetia and other republics too to drop references to the rehabilitation law is intended to make North Ossetia’s control of the Prigorodny district permanent.
“The law ‘on the rehabilitation of repressed peoples’ which condemns the policy f state terror, genocide and slander concerns not only the Ingush but also other peoples,” the Ingush journalist says, including “the Chechens, the Balkars, the Karachays, the Kalmyks, the Crimean Tatars, the Meskhetian Turks and others.”
And thus, “in speaking of the need to revise the law, Lagkuyev is offending not only the Ingush but the rights of these peoples as well. Perhaps he doesn’t know that the law also prohibits agitation or propaganda carried out with the goal of blocking the rehabilitation of repressed peoples?”
If Lagkuyev’s proposal is listened to in Moscow, no one should be under any illusions that there will be “stability in the relationships among the peoples of the North Caucasus,” Yevloyeva warns.
In a development affecting one of the detainees charged with crimes for participating in protests against the Chechen border deal, the Russian Supreme Court has refused to overrule the extension of the detention of Ruslan Dzeytov despite his health and the financial problems of his family (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/345336/).