New Tensions Surface in Ossetian-Ingush Relations
Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 9 Issue: 48December 18, 2008 07:08 PM Age: 2 days
By: Valeriy Dzutsev
Two factors, a controversial federal law that carves in stone disputed administrative borders between North Ossetia and Ingushetia and an outbreak of violence, are reigniting tensions between the two neighboring North Caucasus republics.
At the end of November, President Dmitry Medvedev signed a federal law establishing municipalities in Chechnya and Ingushetia (Kremlin.ru, November, 24). The two are the last territories that have had no officially established municipalities since contemporary Russian Federation came into existence in the beginning of 1991. The law designates an interim period until the end of 2009 during which the limits of municipalities in both territories should be firmly established.
Earlier this month, a consortium of Ingush NGOs addressed the authorities, urging them not to implement the law without reclaiming the disputed territories from North Ossetia to Ingushetia (Kavkazky Uzel, December 13). Ingush activists fear that if Ingushetia establishes municipalities according to the existing administrative borders, they will no longer be able to claim the disputed lands.
The Ingush have been laying claims to the right side of the Terek River that cuts across the North Ossetian region of Prigorodny and the region’s capital Vladikavkaz. Part of these lands administratively belonged to the Ingush autonomy before 1944, when the Ingush were deported to Central Asia along with Chechens as punishment for alleged collaboration with the Nazis. After they were rehabilitated and had their rights restored in 1957, some of their former lands remained under the North Ossetian administration.
Land has historically been scarce and highly valued across the North Caucasus. In 1992, after a short but bloody war, most of the Ingush population of North Ossetia, an estimated 30,000-60,000 people, fled or was driven out by the Ossetians into neighboring Ingushetia. Since then, some of the Ingush refugees have returned home, but violence has periodically spoiled relations between the two neighbors.