Saturday, September 21, 2019

Ingush Supreme Court Liquidates Republic Muftiate

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 17 – At the request of the Ingush justice ministry, the republic Supreme Court has ordered the liquidation of the republic’s Muslim spiritual directorate (MSD), a decision the muftiate’s lawyers say they will appeal but one likely to have serious consequences not only in Ingushetia but elsewhere.

            On the one hand, the end of this administrative structure will eliminate yet another organization that has stood up to the civic authorities. The Ingush MSD was very much opposed to former republic head Yunus-Bek Yevkurov who tried to close it only to be excommunicated by the mufti.

            But on the other hand, without an MSD, the parishes and ulema of the Muslim community will become increasingly independent of one another, making it likely that at least some of them will move in directions that the authorities will describe as extremist and certainly reducing the ability of Magas to control them.

            It remains to be seen whether Magas will try to create a new replacement MSD or whether other republics and regions which also have problems with these structures will decide to follow the Ingush path. Many Muslims would welcome that move because the MSD system which traces its origins to Russian state policy in the 18th century has no basis in Islam.

            But this outright ban, which goes far beyond what other regional and republic governments have done, suggests that the Putin regime in its relationship with the Muslims of the Russian Federation has moved into uncharted territory. (On this move, see,, and

            A more immediate challenge to the future of Ingushetia and its relations with its neighbors also happened today: More than 200 people who were forced to flee in 1992 from their homes as a result of the 1992 war over Ossetian occupation of Ingush territories had a three-hour meeting with the Ingushetia’s procurator general (

            They demanded that the Ingush authorities take steps to provide them with temporary housing and ultimately arrange their return to their historical homeland, the latest development in the complicated history of what is known as the Prigorodny district conflict and one potentially far more explosive than the September 2018 Ingush-Chechen border change.

            Prigorodny district was part of the Chechen-Ingush ASSR until the Ingush and Chechens were deported in 1944. Then Moscow transferred it to North Ossetia.  In 1957, when the deported were allowed to return and the Chechen-Ingush ASSR was restored, Moscow nonetheless decided to allow North Ossetia to keep the district.

            That infuriated the Ingush and when they could, in the fall of 1992, they began a war to recover what they see as their territory.  In that conflict, which has simmered ever since, 583 people died and from 30,000 to 60,000 Ingush were forced to flee. Now, that Moscow has called for final border delimitation, most Ingush see recovery of Prigorodny as a first order task.

            Meanwhile, new Ingush head Makhmud-Ali Kalimatov continued to fill cabinet posts, including appointing and ethnic Rutul from Daghestan as head of the new ministry for foreign relations, nationality policy, the press and information ( and

                And there were three developments involving Ingush opposition figures jailed or facing charges.  Ruslan Dzeytov had his detention extended to December 25 despite concerns about his health ( and

            Malsag Uzhakhov, the imprisoned head of the Union of Teips of the People of Ingushetia, finally was given the medicine he needs to deal with what appears to be a worsening heart problem (, and seven of the March 26-27 participants saw the charges against them reduced (

            As a result, if convicted, they face far shorter jail sentences than the ten years they might have been looking at.

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