Regions and territories: Ingushetia

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at
Sun Oct 19 11:58:06 UTC 2008

   Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Regions and territories: Ingushetia
    [image: Map of Ingushetia and area]

  *The Republic of Ingushetia in the Russian North Caucasus borders on
Georgia to the south. *

Its neighbours within Russia are Chechnya and North Ossetia. The
overwhelming majority of the population is Muslim and clan links are an
integral part of society.


The Ingush and Chechen peoples have close historical, cultural and
linguistic ties, although the Ingush have not shared in the fierceness of
the resistance to Moscow put up by the Chechens over the past 200 years.

Part of the Russian empire since the early 19th century, Ingushetia was
formally joined to Chechnya under Soviet rule in 1936 when it formed around
one-fifth of the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Republic within Russia.

Like the Chechens, the Ingush, despite their history of relative loyalty to
Moscow, were deported to Central Asia towards the end of World War II by
Stalin who accused them of collaborating with the Nazis. They were allowed
to return only in 1957 when Khrushchev was Soviet leader.

There was tension after Dzhokhar Dudayev came to power as Chechen leader in
1991. When he declared Chechen sovereignty the Ingush resisted. There was
some fighting along the border between the two regions and Russian troops
were sent in to establish order. The Ingush subsequently voted in a
referendum to form the Republic of Ingushetia within Russia. Although firmly
tied to Moscow, the republic has its own anthem and state symbols.

The Ingush and North Ossetians have a history of rivalry. Ingushetia lays
claim to the neighbouring Prigorodny district which was included in the
Russian Republic of North Ossetia when Stalin deported the Ingush in 1944.
For many years after their return, the district had a substantial Ingush

*Post-Soviet period*

In late 1992 violence erupted in Prigorodny district. The two sides have
fundamental differences as to the reasons. The North Ossetians assert that
it was sparked by Ingush radicals seeking to include Prigorodny in the newly
formed Republic of Ingushetia. The Ingush assert that the North Ossetians
attacked first and that they acted in self defence.

The fighting left many dead. Moscow sent troops to establish order. The
Ingush population was expelled from the district and Ingushetia faced its
first post-independence refugee crisis. Tensions persist and there are
differences as to how many refugees have returned home.
 [image: Chechen refugees in Sputnik refugee camp near Sleptsovskaya,
January 2000] Ingushetia has hosted thousands of refugees fleeing violence
in Chechnya

Another refugee crisis presented itself when thousands of Chechens fled
across the border into Ingushetia when Russian troops returned to Chechnya
in 1999. The last refugee camp was reported to have been closed five years
later. Russia rejected concerns voiced by human rights groups that many of
the former residents had been forcibly repatriated in Moscow's zeal to
expunge indications of continuing conflict in the area.

Ingushetia lives in the shadow of the violence and lawlessness of its
Chechen neighbour and poverty is widespread. From time to time, the violence
has spilled over the border and Russian forces are regularly targeted by

There was a major escalation in June 2004 when several dozen people,
including the Ingush acting interior minister, were killed in attacks
reported to have involved hundreds of gunmen armed with grenades and

Russian forces have since launched several raids against suspected rebel
hideouts in Ingushetia in which there have been numerous deaths.

*Ingushetia facts:*

   - *Territory:* Ingushetia
   - *Status:* Semi-autonomous region of Russia
   - *Status:* Republic within Russian Federation
   - *Population:* 300,000
   - *Religion:* Islam
   - *Capital:* Magas (previous capital was nearby Nazran)
   - *Languages:* Ingush, Russian
   - *Currency:* Rouble

  *President: Murat Zyazikov*

Murat Zyazikov, then a general in the Russian security service and deputy to
the Russian president's envoy in the region, was first elected Ingush
president in April 2002. A key rival was disqualified on a technicality.
 [image: Ingushetia's President Murat Zyazikov] President Murat Zyazikov,
regarded as a close ally of President Putin

Mr Zyazikov was reappointed for a further term in June 2005 under new
Russian legislation. In line with the new procedure, Mr Putin proposed Mr
Zyazikov to the Ingush parliament which approved him in the post.

He had faced mounting calls for his resignation earlier in the year from
opposition groups which accuse him of presiding over a system rife with
corruption and of failing to take action to resolve refugee and other
disputes with neighbouring North Ossetia.

In March 2007, the president sacked his government, amid an increase in
attacks on the republic's authorities. He gave no official reason apart from
calling for more economic and social reform.

Mr Zyazikov was slightly injured when a car packed with explosives crashed
into his motorcade in April 2004.

An ethnic Ingush, he was born in Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia in 1957. He is
married and has three sons.


Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at

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