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The Ingushetia Republic

The Ingushetia RepublicIngushetia covers about 19.3 thousand square km . The 1989 census had 214.200 Ingush in the Chechen-Ingush republic and 32.800 in North Ossetia, and the number of Russians are small, Rural population: 59 per cent (1989).

The Ingush took little part in the Shamil revolt from 1834-58, whereas the uprising stamped a permanent mark on the Chechens. During the 1860s, when ethnic Russian settlers started pouring into the Caucasus on a large scale, the western Nakh (Ingush) were relatively passive, whereas the eastern Nakh (Chechens) resisted violently. At this point, the Russians started to refer to them as Ingush and Chechens. Chechens were driven into the mountains, while the Ingush were encouraged to settle on the plain. In 1920, Ingushetia was merged into the new Mountain People's Autonomous Republic, but in 1924 it was changed as the Ingush Outonomous Oblast. In 1934, it was merged with the Chechen Ingush Autonomous Oblast to become the Chechen-Ingush ASSR. In Stalinist era of 1930s, Ingush intellectual leaders were slaughtered, the language outlawed, and attempts were made to suppress Muslim traditions. The result, however, was that Muslim and anti-Russian sentiments were strengthened. Collectivisation reinforced these trends.

In the Second World War, when the Nazi Germans neared the Caucasian oilfields, Ingush and Chechens were found on both sides in the war. Because of this lack of loyalty to Soviet power, the Chechens and Ingush (totalling 319.000 and 74.000 respectively) were deported to Siberia and Central Asia and removed from official statistics. The Autonomous Oblast was disbanded.

In 1957, the Ingush were rehabilitated and the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Oblast re-established. Re-settlement caused tensions with other peoples that had moved into their villages, and now had to be expelled. During the exile years, the Ingush became almost as fiercely anti-Russian as the Chechens.

In the following decades, despite campaigns against religion, the Ingush clung to Islam. In 1975, it was estimated that -just like the Chechens- half the Ingush population belonged to Sufi brotherhoods. Mosques were reopened in 1978. Glasnost encouraged the various peoples of the Soviet Union to demand more autonomy, and the Ingush were no exception. In the turmoil after the August 1991 coup in Moscow, Chechen leaders declared an independent Chechen republic, separated from the Ingush. The republic of Ingushetia was established as part of the Russian Federation.

Thus, Ingushetia is the most recently established republic in the North Caucasus. Two reasons were decisive in this choice. Firstly, Ingushetia is involved in an extremely difficult conflict with neighbouring North Ossetia about the territory of Prigorodny, the suburb, and parts of the North-Ossetian capital Vladikavkaz, which had been given to North Ossetia while the entire Ingush people lived in forced exile in Central Asia. It is thought that more than 60.000 Ingush are said to have lived in the disputed area. (Official Soviet accounts, counting only those with an official permit of residence, gave the number at 32.800 in 1989.)

The Ingush had hoped that by not following Chechnia into independence, Russia would probably assist them in regaining their former habitat particularly after President Yeltsin issued the law on rehabilitation, which includes territorial rehabilitation. In the summer of 1992 President Yeltsin by presidential decree issued a general moratorium on boundary changes in the Caucasus. Secondly as a minority and a predominantly rural people they felt absolutely disadvantaged in Chechnia. Due to some disagreements on the Cossack-inhabited Sunzha district, the border between Chechnia and Ingushetia has still not been finally drawn in order to avoid conflict. Depending on the future for the North Caucasus- a solution of the conflicts or long-term violence- Chechen and Ingush might reunite one day, as they are closely related, their languages fully comprehensible and some clans consist of both Ingush and Chechen families, the clan relations still being very much alive.

As a former rural province within the Chechen-Ingush Republic, an urban centre with the necessary institutions and structures still has to be established. Nazran, the new capital is primarily a rural centre. While the Russian Federation generally is in a deep economic crisis, the crisis in Ingushetia is overwhelmingly due to heavy fighting in Prigorodny and a subsequent flood of refugees living in freight containers. The number of Russians in the republic, mainly those living in Cossack villages, is approximately 20.000. This low number, if correct, is apparently a result of a marked out-migration of Russians in the last decade. As in Chechnia it seems likely that more Russians, including Cossacks, might leave Ingushetia, although this part of the North Caucasus has been their homeland for more than a century. Some of the 10.000 or more Ingush left in Central Asia have begun to return to their homeland after it has became a republic of its own: The territorial conflict between Ingushetia and North Ossetia increased, ending in severe armed clashes in October 1992.

Ingushetia has criticised the role of Moscow in the conflict. Russia declared the district in a state of emergency, and sent in troops to disarm the fighting groups. Ingushetia isThe Ingushetia Republic accusing these troops of siding with the Ossets, since all Ingush were driven out while the Russian troops were present. Moscow established a temporary military administration in the disputed republic, which has had seven leaders in one year, mostly Russian vice-premiers, without reaching any solutions.

Agreements negotiated between Ingush, Qssets and Russians to let the refugees return have still not been carried out. In near past the Ingush president offered to give up alt claims concerning Prigorodny, on condition that all refugees would be allowed to return, while North Ossetia will only accept those who did not take part in the fighting. Only a limited number of Ingush have returned to five villages under the protection of Russian army units. One of the solutions being considered is the resettlement of the displaced Ingush in other locations for security reasons. This appears so far to be an inadequate solution because of the Ingush very strong feelings for their own land.
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