Friday, November 29, 2019

Ingushetia Attracts More Attention -- Positive and Negative -- from Beyond Its Borders

Paul Goble

            November 26 – Developments in Ingushetia are beginning to attract more attention from outsiders despite the Kremlin’s restrictions on coverage of much of what has been going on there. Some of it is positive, like that of Russian human rights groups; but some negative, including efforts to eliminate or alternatively misuse traditional Ingush institutions.

            Andrey Sabinin of the Agora human rights group says that his organization along with Memorial is focusing ever more attention on the violations of the legal rights of Ingush demonstrators and that the attention of such international groups is having the effect of convincing others that Magas’ approach must be reversed (юрист-магасский-карфаген-решено-ра/).

            Meanwhile, likely at the request of Magas and Moscow, the Muslim Spiritual Directorate (MSD) of Kabardino-Balkaria and the Foundation for the Support of Islamic Culture, Science and Education at a conference in Nalchik declared that Ingush Muslim leaders must not interfere in the actions of the republic government, the line Moscow and Magas have taken (

            And in a related development that suggests some outsiders are seeking to use traditional Ingush institutions for their own ends, anonymous sources have called on the Ingush teip of the Khaniyevs to intervene to prevent an Ingush actress from continuing to appear on television because of actions they don’t approve of (

            Looming behind all this is a potential move, also sponsored by outsiders, that could change the situation in Ingushetia in fundamental ways. Three days ago, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov asked Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to eliminate guard posts at the borders of the republics in the North Caucasus (

            Those posts were installed at the insistence of Russian siloviki as part of their counter-terrorist program but they have become important symbols of nationhood to the peoples of the republics there – and to no one more than the Ingush because their republic is the smallest and has had portions of its territory transferred to Chechnya.

            The possibility that they will be lifted sets the stage for some unexpected alliances and conflicts. The Russian siloviki and many of the titular nationalities want the posts kept, albeit for very different reasons, while the political leadership in Moscow and Kadyrov want them eliminated, again for different reasons.

            Moscow wants to show that the Kremlin doesn’t need these to control the situation in the North Caucasus, while Kadyrov wants them eliminated so that he can more easily spread his influence and control across the current borders of his republic into the territory of others, particularly in Ingushetia and Daghestan.

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