Staunton, April 9 – A remarkable thing has happened in Ingushetia: the population is so united against the actions of the republic authorities and Moscow’s approval of them that the Ingush have given up their blood feuds because they see the threat to their society as a whole as more important, ethnographer Makka Albogachiyeva says.
Given the centrality of blood feuds in Ingush society, that shows just how angry the Ingush are at the border deal with Chechnya, Moscow’s support of it, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov’s efforts to eliminate the referendum and the use of Russian forces against them (meduza.io/feature/2019/04/09/pered-obschey-problemoy-zabyta-dazhe-krovnaya-mest).
The Ingush view these things, Meduza journalist Vladimir Sevrinovsky says, as existential threats to their national existence and thus are willing to overlook offenses against their persons that they would have raised to a life challenge in the past. That in turn means the opposition won’t change its position or back down, however much force is used against them.
Sevrinovsky also reports that young and secularized Ingush are returning from Moscow and other Russian cities to take part in the protests because they do not want to be challenged in the future by those who will ask “what did you do during the protests?” yet another indication of the increasing commitment of the population.
And Ingush tell the journalist that in their view, the local police are on their side the side of the protesters and are doing what they can to avoid violence against the population, a perspective that if true gives Yevkurov and Moscow little choice but to rely on outside and predominantly ethnic Russian forces.
But the introduction of such forces, the journalist and the Ingush say, will only further “ethnicize” the conflict, transforming it from a dispute about land into a struggle over national sovereignty and control. And that means that the current protests in contrast to those last fall are not only more radical in their demands but more prepared to fight against outside forces.
One of the reasons that the Ingush struggle has come together so far and so fast, participants say, is that the republic is small and people all know each other. They aren’t assembling in some anonymous group but rather meeting with family and friends on whom they can count. In a larger republic or region, that would not be the case.
Irina Staordubrovskaya, a sociologist who specializes on the North Caucasus, says she is “not very optimistic” about where things are headed given that both the Ingush and the authorities are digging in and not prepared to back down. The authorities have made the situation worse by arresting the elders who had been keeping things in check.
With them in jail, there is a great risk that younger and more radical Ingush will either on their own or as a result of provocations act in ways that will give Yevkurov and Moscow cover for a thorough-going crackdown. Yevkurov appears ready to do that; but most protesters still say that they don’t understand why he is because “we only want that someone will listen to us.”
Meanwhile, arrests continue, and now ever more often Ingush say that those carrying them out are not the local police, many of whom have relatives among the opposition, but the Russian FSB. If so, that suggests that Yevkurov’s regime is weakening as well (fortanga.org/2019/04/siloviki-uvezli-eshhe-odnogo-uchastnika-mitinga-v-magase/ and kavkazr.com/a/29870625.html).