Staunton, January 21 – The replacement of Moscow’s plenipotentiary representative for the North Caucasus, with former procurator Yury Chaika taking the place of Vladimir Matovkin, likely means that his office will seek additional criminal indictments, including in Ingushetia, as a way to enforce Russian rule over the region.
That is the view of Akhmet Yarlykapov, a specialist on the region at MGIMO, who adds that Chaika’s appointment is “a clear sign that the district as before is viewed as a place of tension and problematic security” and that Moscow must continue to take a direct hand in managing it (ura.news/news/1052415554, mbk-news.appspot.com/suzhet/chajka-stanet-polpredo/ and kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5E26F7501BEAC).
Vladimir Putin’s decision to disband the special ministry for the North Caucasus and transfer its functions to the economic development ministry is unlikely to lead to major changes although it will simplify bureaucratic arrangements and negotiations in the region (nazaccent.ru/content/32025-prezident-rossii-uprazdnil-minkavkaz-i-sohranil.html and rbc.ru/politics/21/01/2020/5e272d2e9a79479f1d730a6c).
Meanwhile, there were two developments on the border front. First, Magomed Daudov, speaker of the Chechen parliament, announced that Grozny had completed all its border delimitations and demarcations and filed the results with Moscow. Chechen opposition figures disputed that claim (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/344915/).
And second, the Russian Supreme Court announced that it had rejected an appeal by the Chechen natural resources ministry to assign a special group of experts regarding a disputed forest on the Chechen-Daghestani border and thereby ended the suit (chernovik.net/content/lenta-novostey/verhovnyy-sud-rossii-obnarodoval-reshenie-o-spornom-uchastke-lesnogo-fonda-na).
While neither of these developments necessarily affects Ingushetia directly, both signal that the period of redrawing borders in the North Caucasus may be coming to an end, the result of Chechnya’s having gained what it most wanted and Moscow’s being reluctant to allow the process to continue and spark more Ingush-style protests.
To the extent that is the case, Ingushetia almost certainly faces impossibly long odds against recovering the land from Chechnya that Yunus-Bek Yevkurov gave up in September 2018 and the Prigorodny district, which most Ingush believe is their national territory since it belonged to the republic before the Ingush were deported, from North Ossetia.
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