Staunton, November 23 – A Russian military operation on the disputed Ingush-Chechen border has at least three purposes, even though some Russian officials and military specialists deny each and every one of them and claim that it is merely a coincidence that a Russian counter-terrorist training session is occurring along the border of the two republics.
The first, Ingush activists suggest, is to deny Ingush access to disputed territories under the pretext that a military operation is occurring there. The second, they say, is to remind people in both republics that Moscow is in charge. And the third is to be in a position to separate the two should that be necessary ( and ).
These reactions come only a day after it was first reported that Russian forces had cordoned off an area about the village of Dattyk. Now, it appears, these forces have created a much larger exclusion zone and are doing it in a way intended to attract attention rather than being plausibly deniable.
Other developments over the last 24 hours in the border conflict include:
· Ingush courts have released or cancelled fines for some but not all of those charged earlier in connection with demonstrations against the border accord ( and ).
· Caucasus expert Anton Chablin says that Moscow needs to sent not a simple representative to the North Caucasus to deal with the multiplying ethnic conflicts but an entire commission that will consider all the problems together ().
· Opposition deputies from the Ingush parliament have provided fresh evidence that Yunus-Bek Yevkurov not only violated the republic constitution by asking the parliament to approve the border agreement – there is supposed to be a referendum – but also undermined even that action by playing fast and loose with the numbers of deputies he said had voted for it. A majority didn’t, the opposition deputies say ().
· Izabella Yevloyev, a woman who took part in the Ingush protests, says her gender was irrelevant and that many other women are taking part in the protests, with the full support of their husbands and society ().
· Moscow experts say that Ingushetia and Chechnya are the two federal subjects with the highest rates of unemployment, 26.3 percent in the case of the first and 13.5 percent in the latter ().
· The Ingush government released further details about its future plans to develop villages along the new border ().
· Issa Kostoyev, a legal specialist and former senator from Ingushetia, says that the increasing number of border challenges in the North Caucasus threatens to lead to a replay of the bloody events of the fall of 1992 ().
· Russia’s TASS news agency announces that the border between Ingushetia and Chechnya will be marked not by border posts as other such lines are but by arches to symbolize “the equality and brotherhood” of the two nations ().
· Moscow’s Vedomosti newspaper says that despite all the legal moves, “the number of participants in the argument about the border of Ingushetia and Chechnya is increasing” rather than falling as Moscow had hoped ().