Thursday, November 29, 2018

Russian Court Decision on Ingush-Chechen Border Will Affect Entire Country, Observers Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 29 – Whatever decision the Russian Constitutional Court takes on Yunus-Bek Yevkurov’s appeal of the republic court’s ruling against his border agreement with Chechnya and the process he used to ratify it, it will profoundly affect relations between Ingush and Chechens, among non-Russians and between them and Moscow across the country.

            That is the judgment of lawyers and participants in the process. Regardless of the decision, relations between Ingush and Chechens and between Ingushetia and Moscow will never be the same again, they say; and relations among other non-Russians and their ties with Moscow will change as well (

            Ingush opponents of the border accord fear that Moscow has already decided against them even though no decision has been announced. If they are right, they say, Ingush will never look at Moscow or at the Chechens, who until recently were viewed as the most fraternal people possible (cf.

            (Many analysts in the course of the conflict over the border accord have in fact suggested that Moscow is behind the entire conflict in order to split these two peoples, but that argument is difficult to sustain given that the conflict and the prospects of a Moscow decision are already affecting the attitudes of other non-Russians.)

            At the strictly legal level, of course, the decision of the Russian Constitutional Court will not have precedential value. Russian courts in general do not follow precedents in the same way most Western courts do. But that doesn’t mean that what happens in this case will not affect others, prompting them to act in ways that reflect their understanding of what is legally possible.

            One indication of this is already obvious: ethnic Chechens in Daghestan have been pressing for greater official recognition in the wake of the Ingush-Chechen border accord and the protests about it. They clearly believe that now is the time to demand either their own territory within Daghestan or union with Chechnya (

            There are several dozen groups across the Russian Federation who are watching and calculating what they can do and even more what they will be able to achieve in the wake of Moscow’s obvious tilt toward Chechnya. If Moscow does complete its tilt toward Chechnya, that won’t still these demands but intensify them, a development the Kremlin must be worried about. 

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