Staunton, November 30 – Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov says he will block those who oppose the transfer of Ingush territory to Chechnya, that the land involved is Chechen, and that Grozny will not return it “regardless of the decision of the Russian Constitutional Court” (obzor.io/2018/11/30/kadyrov-zayavil-chto-ne-otdast-ingushskie-zemli-obratno-93079/ and club-rf.ru/95/news/52220).
Kadyrov’s hard line will undoubtedly make it even more difficult for the Russian court to rule against the deal Yunus-Bek Yevkurov and Kadyrov reached on September 26, a deal that transferred more than 20 times as much territory form Ingushetia to Chechnya than the other way around.
And it will infuriate Ingush opponents of the agreement, some of whom are already saying that the Russian Constitutional Court has violated its own procedures in its consideration of Yevkurov’s appeal of the decision of the Ingush Constitutional Court and indicating that they will protest a decision against them (kavkaz-uzel.eu/blogs/342/posts/35535).
That prospect has led the Yevkurov regime to begin going after protest leaders lest the public protests resume in the wake of a court decision. In one district alone, Ingush officials are circulating a list of 24 names of those they say are seeking a referendum on the border change as the republic constitution requires (kavkazr.com/a/29630440.html).
The Russian Constitutional Court has not signaled what its decision will be, but a report prepared by the Russian Agency of Legal and Judicial Information provides some important clues. Its experts say that the Ingush court exceeded its authority by ruling on a decision in which another federal subject was involved (rapsinews.ru/judicial_news/20181130/291896982.html).
If in fact the Russian Constitutional Court accepts that argument, then it will likely overrule the decision of its Ingush counterpart. But whether it will go further and declare that the Ingush constitution’s provision requiring a referendum on border changes can be ignored remains to be seen.
Regardless of whether that happens, this conflict is far from over. Kadyrov is digging in, Yevkurov is becoming increasingly repressive, and Yevkurov’s opponents show no sign of backing down. Once a decision is handed down, there is likely to be an explosion of public activism in Ingushetia – and Moscow will face a far more serious problem than earlier.