Staunton, March 14 – Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plan for the amalgamation of regions is behind Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s claims on portions of neighboring Ingushetia, claims that not only are worsening relations between those two historically close peoples but potentially re-opening other territorial disputes across the North Caucasus.
In a post on his Kavkaz-Uzel.ru blog this wee, Magomed Mutsolgov, an Ingush legal rights activist says, the territorial conflict between the Chechens and the Ingush has re-emerged because of “intrigues” in Moscow that have set the Chechen government against its Ingush neighbor (kavkaz-uzel.ru/blogs/342/posts/14118).
According to Mutsolgov, the current Chechen claims are not, as many think, a reflection of the weakness of Ingush head Yunus-Bek Yevkurov. They have their roots elsewhere: They are “an act of the hostile policy and the beloved knout of the Kremlin,” which since the nineteenth century has sought to rule the North Caucasus by setting one people against another.
Ingushetia has been a big loser in this. At the end of the 19th century, Moscow took Buro away from the nation and put the Ingush under a single capital of two neighboring peoples, the Ingush and the Osetins. Then in 1944, the Ingush were deported, and their entire republic was suppressed with its lands handed over to Osetia.
In 1957, he continues, the Ingush returned, but they have not been able to regain many of the lands that had been theirs from time immemorial. And now, once again, the republic is threatened, this time by Chechens who believe they have the support of Moscow. As a result, there is “almost an undeclared war” that has been “sanctioned by Kremlin bureaucrats.”
Chechen leaders, the rights activist says, constantly talk about “the need for the preservation of fraternal relations, about the fact that we are Muslims, Waynakhs, Caucasians and neighbors, but they act not as Muslims, not as Waynakhs, not as good neighbors, and even more not as brothers.”
“One need not loo into the distant past in order to understand who is your brother and who has a knife ad is prepared to stab you in the back,” Mutsolgov says.
Putin himself has said that borders between federal subjects should be changed only after careful consideration lest it provoke bloodletting and the collapse of the state, but his discussions about the need for amalgamating regions have led some of his subordinates to press for change in ways that threaten to produce an explosion.
And “the silence of the Kremlin and the leadership of the country” about the current dispute between Chechnya and Ingushetia is “a confirmation” that the Chechen territorial demands “belong precisely to the candidates for the rank of the deciders of the fates of the peoples of the Russian State.”
If Chechnya continues to make territorial claims, then Ingushetia must do the same unless and until those are ruled out of order by Moscow, the activist says. But if the center wants to go ahead with regional amalgamation, then it should consider uniting Chechnya, Ingushetia and North Osetia into a single federal unit.
That would require special laws and new leadership all around, Mutsolgov says, and it would also require direct elections and the provision of other rights to all the peoples involved to ensure “equality and justice.”
But the Ingush writer argues that “in [his] view, we should proceed without any amalgamations, territorial and political terror and speculations and not a lot is required” for that to happen: Simply ensure that all Russian laws are enforced across the region, including the law “On the Rehabilitation of Repressed Peoples.”
The dispute between the Chechens and the Ingush has a long history (For a useful discussion, see expert.ru/2013/03/13/vzryivoopasnaya-istoricheskaya-spravedlivost/kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/221325/kommersant.ru/doc/2144758?fp=36 and vz.ru/politics/2013/3/13/624207.html