Saturday, October 17, 2020

Magas Shuts Group Seeking MIAs from 1992 Ingush-South Ossetian Conflict

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 15 – Ingushetia has suffered two major losses of territory since 1991; and while the handing over of 10 percent of the republic’s territory to Chechnya in 2018 sparked protests that have attracted broad attention, the loss of land by the country’s smallest federal subject to North Ossetia in the so-called Prigorodny war of 1992 remains neuralgic.

            For more than 25 years, various Ingush groups have sought to reverse that first loss and to uncover many of the aspects of that conflict that officials have sought to cover up. One of the most successful of these has been the Committee to Support Searches for Hostages and MIAs in that conflict.

            Tragically, but because the earlier conflict has become wrapped up in and intensified by the latter one, a Magas court at the request of the Ingush justice ministry has now liquidated that group lest its activists contribute to new tensions between Ingushetia and South Ossetia and within Ingushetia itself (

            The group has never received foreign financing, thus limiting the ability of the powers that be to close it down on that basis but two years ago, it failed to file certain tax documents. Instead of allowing the Committee to correct the situation, the Ingush government has now used that lapse to shutter it and prevent it from helping those who suffered losses.

            In addition today, there were three other developments likely to increase tensions between the Ingush, on the one hand, and Magas and Moscow officials, on the other. In the first, the relatives of those killed in recent counter-terrorist operations are complaining that the siloviki have refused to hand over the bodies of those killed (

            Federal law permits the siloviki to refuse to hand over the bodies of those identified as members of a terrorist underground, but because many Ingush doubt that those killed are properly so described, the authorities’ failure to give the bodies up may be an effort to conceal torture by the federal forces.

            In the second, a Russian court sentenced Mukharbek Mamatov to nine months in a prison camp for his role in the March 2019 protests against the Chechen border deal. He was found guilty of attacking police. He denies the charge and will appeal. Because of time already served, he should be released in four months (

            And in the third, another Ingush activist, Magomed Khazbiyev, was called in to the government body charged with countering extremism and given a warning on the basis of uncorroborated charges by a policeman that Khazbiyev had threatened to kill him. Khazbiyev, who had served 30 months in prison, denies the charges (

            Today’s media also featured two background pieces of particular interest. In the first, a KBR journalist reports about Magas, the capital of Ingushetia since 2000 when it replaced Nazran and thus the youngest and smallest capital of a federal subject in the Russian Federation (

            In fact, the city has ancient roots: archaeological excavations show that it sits on a site where people lived at least as early as the Bronze Age and was also where the capital of Alania sat until it was destroyed in 1238. The latter kingdom encompassed much of the North Caucasus and Magas thus is symbolically important not just to the Ingush but to others in the region.

            And in the second, the portal of the Federative Party of Russia reported that Yusup Barakhoyev, 61, is the head of its staff in Ingushetia. Born in exile in Kazakhstan, he lived for many years in Russia’s Tula Oblast but now lives and works in Ingushetia and has become a political activist there (



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