Monday, December 10, 2018

Chechen Territorial Ambitions Radicalizing Ingush and Daghestanis

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 10 – Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s effort to expand his republic at the expense of Ingushetia and Daghestan is radicalizing opinion against him, the Chechens and Moscow in both places, with the near certainty there will be more demonstrations by Ingush against the border accord and protests by Daghestanis against his aspirations there.

            St. Petersburg’s Gorod-812 news portal interviewed a number of Ingush activists and ordinary residents. “All without exception” were against the decision of the Russian Constitutional  Court and did little to “hide their disappointment and anger, the portal says (

                Almost all of them blamed the Kremlin for the decision, and many said the Ingush should ignore the court’s decision. After all, in the words of one “our Constitutional Court” ruled against the border accord and that should be enough for Ingush.  If the Chechens and Moscow try to take the land away from Ingushetia, they said, Ingush should protest and even go on strike.

            Street protests haven’t achieved their goals, the activists said; and so it was time to consider other measures, including a general strike.  The issue of the Prigorodny District is also resurfacing, with Ingush leaders saying that the ruling of the court affects that as well. After all, there is no established border between Ingushetia and North Ossetia.

            Consequently, the portal says, “the Ingush protest will continue” and likely intensify given that “by ignoring the civil will of an entire people, the federal center is provoking a de facto a radicalization of that people’s political demands, a development that in turn can be fraught with the most dramatic consequences.”

            Some of those will be in Ingushetia itself, the portal suggests, but the greater ones will be beyond that republic’s borders as other non-Russian republics draw conclusions about what Moscow’s intensions are. 

                Meanwhile, Kadyrov’s talk about recreating a Chechen district in Daghestan or even changing the borders between his republic and that one is offending ever more Daghestanis who say they might accept small border adjustments but that wholesale changes would lead to large demonstrations (

                Gadzhimurad Sagitov, editor of Makhachakala’s Novoye Delo, notes that “over the course of more than 20 years in the North Caucasus, the definition of borders of the subjects has taken place without serious conflict …. But now in these questions there can be observed ‘a negative tendency’ and it is possible that there has been ‘a definite growth of tension.’”

            He says that the borders between Daghestan and Chechnya are reasonable and should not be changed. If they are, a large number of non-Chechens would suddenly fight themselves in the status of ethnic minorities in Chechnya, something they won’t be happy about and will certainly protest.

            How large these protests might be is a matter of dispute. Some analysts say that they could be massive. But Makhachkala resident Ruslan Magomedov says that they wouldn’t be like those in Ingushetia because the peoples of Daghestan have an entirely different relationship with the head of their republic.

            Another Makhachkala resident, Murad Magomedov, said, however, that because Daghestan is already defined as a multi-national republic, there can be no justification for shifting the borders unless somehow it could be shown that Chechnya once controlled land now inside Daghestan. That is not the case, and so Daghestanis will certainly protest.

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