Staunton, October 11 – Yesterday, in Sunzhe rather than in the republic capital Magas, Ingush officials staged a celebration of the 250th anniversary of the republic’s inclusion as part of Russia. They did so despite warnings about the pandemic, complaints about costs given other needs, and popular anger about repressions against Ingush protests over the Chechen border deal.
Three weeks ago, the Niyskho (Justice) Democratic Union of Ingushetia sent an open letter to Vladimir Putin and republic head Makhmud-Ali Kalimatov making all three of those points and suggesting that any commemoration should be postponed or not held at all (6portal.ru/posts/торжества-по-кровавым-тропам-народа-о/).
But the Magas authorities ignored them and staged a small but bombastic celebration, featuring a Russian air force flyby, a message of congratulations from Vladimir Putin, and speeches by republic leaders (gazetaingush.ru/obshchestvo/s-250-letiem-edineniya-ingushetii-s-rossiey-zhiteley-respubliki-pozdravili-vysokie-gosti, pravitelstvori.ru/news/detail.php?ID=36083 and kavtoday.ru/article/5610).
Not surprisingly, many Ingush were outraged and did not attend, pointing to the tight police and medical controls the authorities set up to protect their rulers and the money spent on a meaningless exercise that might have been spent to help the Ingush people who are among the poorest nations in the Russian Federation (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/355189/).
But even as these events were going on, Magas and Moscow continued to repress those who have spoken out against the border deal with Chechnya that cost Ingushetia ten percent of its territory, as evidenced by a letter by an Ingush protester, Ismail Nalgiyev, about how he and other detainees are being treated (fortanga.info/2020/10/inalgiev-sizo/).
The contrast between the upbeat language of Putin and Kalimatov and the realities of life in the detention facilities they have confined their opponents could not be sharper; and as a result, this celebration like so many other actions of the powers that be may backfire leading ever more Ingush to be angry at Moscow rather than proud of being part of Russia.