THE OSSET-INGUSH CONFLICT: THE ROOTS AND THE PRESENT DAY
Alexander Dzadziev, Ph.D. (Hist.), assistant professor, senior research associate, Department of Ethnopolitical Studies, North Ossetian Institute of Humanitarian and Social Studies, Vladikavkaz Research Center, RAS (Vladikavkaz, RF)
Clashes that came down to history as a large-scale armed conflict between the Ingushes and Ossets started in the morning of 31 October, 1992 in the Republic of North Ossetia. It was also destined to become the first armed ethnic conflict in the Russian Federation. In fact, the conflict has a long history and is rooted in the contested Prigorodniy District of North Ossetia.
Here is a short historical outline. The problem acquired its present urgency after the Second Congress of the Ingush People held in Grozny on 9-10 September, 1989 and became even more pressing when, on 26 April, 1991, the Supreme Soviet of the R.S.F.S.R. passed the Law on Rehabilitation of the Repressed Peoples.
The Alans (ancestors of the Ossets) lived on this territory until the late 14th century. In the late 17th-early 18th centuries and in the 1860s the area was a homeland of the Ingushes; until 1922, it was populated by the Cossacks; until 1934, the district was part of the Ingush Autonomous Region (until 1924, part of the Ingush National District, which itself was part of the Gorskaia Autonomous Republic). After 1934 it belonged to the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Region (later, between 1936 and 1944 it was an autonomous republic). According to the 1939 population census there were 33.8 thou living in the Prigorodniy District (over 28.1 thou of them were Ingushes who comprised 33.6 percent of the republic’s total Ingush population); there were also 3.5 thou Russians and 0.4 thou Chechens.1 At that period the district covered 977.5 sq. km (or 34 percent of the territory of the republic’s five Ingush districts). In 1944, when the Chechens and Ingushes were deported this area, along with other Ingush districts of the abolished Chechen-Ingush Republic, was transferred to North Ossetia.
In January 1957, the republic was restored while the larger part of the Prigorodniy District (742 sq. km) remained within North Ossetia. By way of compensation for the lost lands the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Republic received the Naurskaia, Shelkovskaia, and Kargalinskaia districts of the Stavropol Territory. As a result the republic increased from 15.4 thou sq. km in 1944 to 19.3 thou sq. km in 1957. The Ingushes of the Chechen-Ingush Republic were not satisfied, and could not be satisfied, with this. They were convinced, and are convinced, that it was the Chechens who profited from this compensation: they moved into the three regions with the predominantly Russian population.
Since 1989 the Ingush national movements have been insisting at the republican and union levels on restoring national autonomy the Ingush people lost in 1934. As part of the deal they want back some areas of the Prigorodniy District of North Ossetia and the right-bank part of Vladikavkaz: before the Chechen and Ingush autonomous regions were joined together to form one unit Vladikavkaz (Orjonikidze) had been the capital of the North Ossetian and Ingush autonomous regions. It was the Second Congress of the Ingush People that made these demands public. The congress resolution said in part: “It is necessary to ask the C.C. C.P.S.U., the U.S.S.R. Supreme Soviet, the Second Congress of the People’s Deputies of the U.S.S.R. to address the problem of restoring the autonomy of the Ingush Republic within its historical boundaries with the capital in the right-bank part of Orjonikidze.”2
The heads and the people of North Ossetia were indignant; tension in the Prigorodniy District climbed up in the following two years; late in April 1991 it reached its maximum both in North Ossetia and Checheno-Ingushetia when the R.S.F.S.R. Supreme Soviet passed the Law on Rehabilitation of the Repressed Peoples. Under Arts 3 and 6 they should be given back their former territories. Since that time, especially when the Ingush Republic was formed on 4 June, 1992 its national movements have been mounting pressure on the federal center and the North Ossetian authorities. They insist on their right to have back the lost territories. The North Ossetian leaders have been trying to strike the offending articles from the law. The Ingush side in turn threatens to use force while the Ossetian side calls on all people to defend their territories arms in hand. On both sides of the administrative border people are openly arming themselves. The Ingush national movements set up armed detachments while North Ossetia acquired the Republican Guard and volunteer units. In spring-summer 1992, it became clear that an armed clash was round the corner. Analysts predicted that it would happen in the fall—and proved right.
On 31 October-4 November, 1992 the contested part of the Prigorodniy District and Vladikavkaz became the territory of a skirmish that claimed 478 lives, left 840 wounded and 200 missing, and produced over 40 thou forced migrants according to the Interim Administration of part of North Ossetia and Ingushetia. Those of the population centers that found themselves in the heat of fighting lost their infrastructure and nearly four thousand private houses. North Ossetia suffered losses to the amount of 12 billion rubles (in 1992 prices); the United Investigation Group of the Ministry of the Interior, the Federal Security Service and the RF General Prosecutor’s Service (RF UIG) cited different figures: 583 killed and 950 wounded. Another authoritative source in the North Ossetian cabinet quoted different figures (618 people killed on both sides, about 950 wounded, the figures did not include the losses among the military and the troops of the RF Ministry of the Interior incurred during the separation effort). This source based his information on the UIG materials. Later, more people (including military and militia groups enforcing the emergency regime in the conflict zone) died in clashes, shelling and blasts; dead bodies were recovered from individual and mass burials. By 30 September, 2003 it was established that 340 more people died in the conflict and later events and 390 more were wounded. Between 31 October, 1992 (the first day of fighting) and 30 September, 2003, 66 Russian military lost their lives in the conflict zone and nearly 130 were wounded in an attempt to stem fighting and impose peace.
On 1 November, 1992 Russian peacekeeping forces were moved into the conflict zone to stop the bloodshed and deal with its consequences. On the next day a presidential decree introduced the state of emergency in North Ossetia and Ingushetia and an Interim Administration was set up; its head had the rank of vice premier of the RF government. The regime was annulled in February 1995 by a presidential decree while the Interim Administration was reorganized into the Interim State Committee of the RF (RF ISC) for dealing with the consequences of the conflict. In October 1997, the committee was reorganized into the Office of the Plenipotentiary Representative of the RF President in North Ossetia and Ingushetia; in September 2000, it in turn was reorganized into the Office of the President’s Special Representative. While the form and name changed the task remained the same: dealing with the consequences of the armed conflict between Ossets and Ingushes.
The first positive steps in the right direction were made on 26 June, 1994 in the town of Beslan, in North Ossetia, where the presidents of Ingushetia and North Ossetia (Ruslan Aushev and Akhsarbek Galazov, respectively) signed an agreement The Order of Returning the Forced Migrants to Places of Their Former Compact Dwelling in the Settlements of the Prigorodniy District of the Republic of North Ossetia. Several days later, on 8 August, another document appeared called Schedule of Returning Forced Migrants. This was the first step toward dealing with the consequences of the conflict. In later years more documents followed, including several scores of presidential decrees, decisions and resolutions of the RF government and of the presidents of North Ossetia and Ingushetia.
For many years the Ingush side has been requesting the Center to ensure unhampered return of the forced migrants to their homes in North Ossetia and to restore Ingushetia’s territorial integrity in accordance with the Law on Rehabilitation of the Repressed Peoples. It was stated at numerous rallies and in numerous letters the republic’s leaders addressed to the president of Russia, the cabinet and the State Duma that the Ingushes would never abandon the issue; that the Prigorodniy District was their historical homeland and that those who hoped that the problem would be resolved all by itself were wrong.
Ossetia, for its part, believes, and has been always convinced, that the conflict can be resolved only when and if Arts 3 and 6 of the law are annulled and Ingushetia removes from its Constitution Art 11 that treats the issue of territorial integrity. The Alanty Nykhas (The Alanian Council), an All-Ossetian Public and Political Movement, is especially active in this respect.
The latest meetings of the presidents, parliamentarians, academics and members of all sorts of public organizations demonstrated certain positive shifts in the sides’ positions. On 30 May, 2002 Vladikavkaz was the venue of the first official meeting of the presidents of North Ossetia and Ingushetia (A. Dzasokhov and M. Ziazikov, respectively). Their contacts became even more active after 10 June, 2002 when President of Russia Putin instructed his special representative A. Kulakovskiy and both presidents to work out a plan of measures so that to finally deal with all consequences of the 1992 conflict. On 6 July both presidents met for the second time in the village of Chermen (Prigorodniy District) and continued the meeting in Vladikavkaz. They discussed normalization of the relationships between the two nations so that to reach a qualitatively different stage. Members of both parliaments discussed this on 17 and 30 July, 2002 in Vladikavkaz and Magas, respectively.
In this way the presidents and the parliaments demonstrated their readiness to seek a political solution; they agreed that the relationships had entered a new historical stage, that the term “Osset-Ingush conflict” should be dropped and that their republics were no longer a “conflict zone.” They all wanted to turn it into a zone of peace and good-neighborly relations and to draw another agreement between the republics. In short, there was a lot of high-flown rhetoric far removed from practical issues. This is amply testified by the current ethnic and political situation in the republics which is especially unfavorable in the zone where the consequences of the conflict that took place 11 years ago are being dealt with.
People in both republics do wonder why their presidents believed that the conflict had been exhausted. This is not true and everyone wishing to know the truth should visit the Osset and Ingush schools in the village of Chermen. The very fact that it is divided into two ethnic parts and that the local children there and in many other similar villages in the Prigorodniy District attend different schools and many other facts show that the situation remains a complex one and that the conflict’s consequences still linger.
On 11 October, 2002, in Vladikavkaz and Magas, to fulfill President Putin’s instructions of 10 June, 2002 the presidents of North Ossetia and Ingushetia signed an Agreement on Developing Cooperation and Good-neighborly Relations between the republics. Its Art 6 says: “According to the Constitution of the RF and the federal legislation the Sides shall ensure the return of forced migrants to settlements of both North Ossetia-Alania and the Republic of Ingushetia while observing the freedom of moving across the country and selecting place of residence and settlement.” Art 14 of the same agreement says: “The Sides shall work toward creating a favorable moral and psychological climate in the republic designed to promote good-neighborliness; they shall stem all attempts at fanning ethnic strife and prevent ethnic and religious discrimination.”3
The statement the heads of both republics made in relation to the document says: “We have closed the page of the tragic fall of 1992 and have opened a new stage in friendly relationships between the republics designed to strengthen harmony, trust and cooperation.” The agreement, the statement and numerous early documents said nothing about a political settlement of the Prigorodniy issue, the source of the conflict in the first place. The official North Ossetian media, however, hastened to describe the document as “an agreement that widened the stability area,” “the triumph of reason” and a “signal event in the history of North Ossetia and Ingushetia.”4
There was a negative opinion among the local Ossets, and especially among those who lived in the Prigorodniy District about the agreement and, specifically, about Arts 6 and 14. Less than a month after the agreement had been signed the Kommunist Ossetii newspaper wrote in its issue dedicated to the tragic events of the fall of 1992: “The agreement on friendship and harmony between the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania and the Republic of Ingushetia has been signed. The leaders are friends, which is excellent. But do not force your friendship on us.”5 “We would like Dzasokhov to come here and explain why he signed this. Now the Ingushes will come here and do to us what they did in 1992,” was a comment of the headmaster of one of the Ossetian schools in the Prigorodniy District.6 The Aivadan-Zerkalo quoted an Osset from the Prigorodniy District as saying that the Ossets did not want the Ingushes back and would not live side by side with those who had fought them 10 year before. This is confirmed by a public opinion poll carried out by the Center for Social and Humanitarian Research of the Vladikavkaz Institute of Management in July-August 2003: 73 percent of polled Ossetians in the republic do not want Ingushes back.7 About 20 percent thinks positively or rather positively about the issue; 39 percent of the polled was positive about the agreement; 37 percent was negative about it while the rest had no opinion whatsoever. Many people, especially intellectuals, believe that the agreement was premature and that it infringed upon the interests of the Ossets of the Prigorodniy District.
As distinct from North Ossetia the Ingush media were not euphoric about the agreement. A large part of the republic’s population and the forced migrants who had to leave North Ossetia were quite positive about the fact of the agreement yet many were skeptical about its practical realization. On the whole, the forced migrants treated it as another document signed “to fulfill the instructions of the RF President” and as timed to the tenth anniversary of the tragic events and nothing more. Ingush political scientist Israpil Sampiev believes that the conflict has not been exhausted since its cause—the territorial issue—has not been settled. “The so-called ‘Ossetian-Ingush conflict’ is not an ethnic one—it is a political conflict that continues what was started in 1944. Everything that is going on around us is makeup and nothing more. The conflict continues while the agreement-signing politicians are living their lives.”8
Letters that forced migrants sent to the government and President Putin said that the agreement was nothing more than a declaration and that its main provision related to the forced migrants remained on paper and that the process was slowing down.9 Some of the deputies of the People’s Assembly of Ingushetia (Chairman of the Committee on Ethnic Relations Azamat Nal’giev, for example) are convinced that “the Ossetian side uses all sorts of pretexts to slow down the process of returning the forced Ingush refugees and to prevent them from coming into some of the North Ossetian settlements.”10
One has to agree that as soon as the agreement had been signed the return process slowed down considerably. During the year that preceded the agreement 272 families (about 1.5 thou) came back; during the year that elapsed after the agreement was signed only 159 families (about 0.7 thou) returned. First, the process of returning families to the so-called “problem-free” villages has been nearly completed. Second, so far people cannot return to the places where the moral and psychological situation remains tense. Many of the Ossets living in the settlement zone are convinced that they cannot live side by side with the Ingushes. The republican leaders and the All-Ossetian Public and Political Movement Alanty Nykhas confirmed this yet later they disproved their statement.
On 8 February, 2003 a meeting between President of Ossetia Dzasokhov and the government, heads of district and city administrations and Alanty Nykhas members had to admit that reconciliation had not been achieved. The meeting suggested that the elders of the villages of the Prigorodniy District should meet the district law enforcement bodies and administration to discuss what could be done to achieve such reconciliation.11 In other words, the local population should be prepared to accept reconciliation. This is important.
Positive shifts in the relationships between the two nations notwithstanding, the public in both republics does not share their presidents’ optimism: the conflict is far from being exhausted. Naturally enough, the presidents fulfilled President Putin’s instruction and pointed out to the obvious positive developments in the relations between Ossets and Ingushes. One has to say, though, that the positive shifts are too limited and that the conflict is still smoldering. Those caught in the conflict are not prepared to forget the past quickly.
At first, those who analyzed numerous related documents expected the agreement to become another declaration of intention. This was how the People’s Assembly of Ingushetia described it a year after the agreement had been signed. It is on the People’s Assembly’s initiative that the State Duma plans to conduct parliamentary hearing “On Progress and Problems of Returning the Forced Ingush Migrants to the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania.”
At the same time, there is an opinion that the agreement may help deal with the conflict’s consequences and serve as the starting point for a political settlement of the Prigorodniy issue.
Forced Migrants Returning
Despite numerous problems, in 2002-2003 there were still attempts to bring back to North Ossetia the forced Ingush migrants and to offer them social protection. In 2002, the Office of the Special Representative of the RF President for Conflict Settlement (hereinafter: Special Representative’s Office) helped 235 families (1.2 thou people); the figure for the nine months of 2003 is 89 families (290 people). Between August 1994 when the process started and 30 September, 2003 the Special Representative’s Office helped 3.9 thou Ingush families (over 21.4 thou). This is about 53 percent of the total number of people applying to return to North Ossetia.
I have said above that the process never started in certain North Ossetian settlements. This is true first and foremost of Vladikavkaz: by the end of September 2003 only 12 percent of those wishing to return were able to do so. One should say that the actual number of the Ingushes who came back is much lower than the reported one (21.4 thou). According to the Special Representative’s Office, 13 to 14 thou returned by the end of September 2003; by that time, 21-22 thou Ingushes were living in the republic (about 6.5 thou of them had remained throughout the conflict; 1.5 thou were still living in the temporal residence center in the village of Maiskoe, Prigorodniy District). According to different sources, by late September 2003 from 14 to 20 thou forced migrants still remained in Ingushetia and outside it. The widely varying figures are due to various reasons negatively affecting the ethnic and political atmosphere in the settlement zone (for reasons see below).
The relationship issue is still far removed from its political settlement. One should not think that since Ingushes started trickling back normalization has been achieved. This process is dealing with the worst consequences—it does not bring settlement contrary to what many people in North Ossetia, Ingushetia and the Center believe. The Ingush side has not removed from the agenda, and will not do this in the foreseeable future, the Prigorodniy District issue.
The North Ossetian authorities, its public organizations, and the Center are doing nothing so that to reach a political settlement together with the Ingush leaders and the people. It seems that political will of the presidents of both republics is much needed to start moving toward the settlement. It is their duty to launch this process for the sake of their peoples. For certain reasons (subjective and personal ones among them) neither of the presidents is prepared to agree on a compromise. Any step in this direction will be described, at the very least, as a betrayal of their peoples with dire consequences for the presidents themselves.
Why the Consequences Are Hard to Deal With
First, because mutual ethnic enmity is very strong; its consequences make it hard to improve the moral and psychological climate in those of the North Ossetian settlements to which the Ingushes who left them have to return. So far, there is neither a system nor mechanisms for educating the local people in the spirit of tolerance.
Second, the federal authorities have not yet given a political and legal assessment of the conflict while both republics have already provided theirs. As early as 10 November, 1992 a session of the Supreme Soviet of North Ossetia described the events of 31 October-4 November, 1992 as “perfidious aggression of Ingush national extremists against North Ossetia with the aim of detaching part of its territory by force.”12 In this connection the Sotsial-Demokrat Alanii newspaper suggested that “the Ingush extremists acting on the republic’s territory be recognized as an enclave of Georgian fascism, international separatism and terrorism of the Dudaev type.”13
In Ingushetia the events were described differently. The decision of the republic’s People’s Assembly of 21 September, 1994 On Political and Legal Assessment of the Events of October-November 1992 in the Prigorodniy District and the City of Vladikavkaz of the Republic of North Ossetia described the events as “a cruel policy of genocide manifested in physical extermination of the part of the Ingush people and ethnic purges of the territory to drive away those who survived.”14 The Draft of Political Assessment by the RF Security Council of the Circumstances of the Armed Conflict on the Territory of the North Ossetian S.S.R. and the Ingush Republic in October-November 1992 failed to provide a political-legal description of the conflict; it could satisfy neither of the sides.15 In an effort not to aggravate the contradictions its authors tried to balance the sides’ guilt and, contrary to what the sides expected, they failed to point to the culprit.
Third, Ingushetia has been insisting in the Center on restoring its territorial integrity according to the Law on Rehabilitation of the Repressed Peoples while North Ossetia objects to Arts 3 and 6 of the same law that are potentially encroaching on its territorial integrity. Its leaders and the public, in their turn, have not abandoned the efforts to convince the Center that the two articles should be annulled.
One should say that today territorial rehabilitation of the repressed peoples is impossible since Arts 3 and 6 contradict Art 67 of the RF Constitution that says: “Administrative borders between the subjects of the Russian Federation shall be changed only on their mutual agreement.” Naturally enough, none of the subjects is prepared to lose part of its territory irrespective of how it was acquired. Once started, the process will never end: as soon as Ingushetia gets back part of North Ossetian territory it will be forced to abandon part of its own territory (the Sunzha District and part of the Malgobek District) to Chechnia; the latter, in its turn, will be asked to give back the Naurskaia and Shelkovskaia districts to the Stavropol Territory. I have written above that Checheno-Ingushetia got them in 1957 as compensation for the Prigorodniy District (until 1944, part of Checheno-Ingushetia). According to federal experts and their colleagues in North Caucasian republics, territorial exchange will cause even greater ethnic and political tension in the south of Russia.
The leaders of the Ingush national public movements, some of the Ingush leaders and members of certain Russian and international human rights organizations do not detect any discrepancy between the contested articles and Art 67 of the RF Constitution. They are convinced that Arts 3 and 6 are related to restoration of former territories while Art 67 is related to changing the existing borders which are two different things. Certain lawyers and human rights activists believe that the rehabilitation law remains unrealized where its Arts 3 and 6 are concerned for the lack of an adequate mechanism and the Center’s reluctance to create one.
Fourth, Art 11 of the Constitution of Ingushetia says: “It is one of the state’s key tasks to return, through political means, the territories that were illegally detached from the republic to preserve, in this way, its territorial integrity.” At the same time, leaders of North Ossetia and the All-Ossetian Public and Political Movement Alanty Nykhas repeatedly insist that Art 11 should be removed from the constitution of the neighboring republic.
Fifth, the leaders and national movements of Ingushetia have repeatedly asked the Center to establish direct presidential (federal) rule in the Prigorodniy District for the period of the forced migrants’ resettlement. Those who insist on this are convinced that this would help deal with the conflict’s consequences and address some of the related issues. The Osset side interprets this as an encroachment on its territory and the first step toward transferring part of the contested district’s territory to Ingushetia.
Sixth, the People’s Assembly of Ingushetia insists on the adoption of a Law of the Russian Federation on Rehabilitation of the Ingush People. The attempts that date from 1995 to submit it to the State Duma’s consideration failed for several reasons, one of them being North Ossetia’s energetic opposition. In addition, so far there have been no presidential decrees on the Ingushes and Chechens. Similar decrees related to other peoples (Balkars, Kalmyks, and Karachay among them deported to Kazakhstan, Central Asia and Siberia during the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945) were signed in 1993-1994. Naturally enough, the Osset side negatively responds to the attempts to pass the RF Law on Rehabilitation of the Ingush People.
Seventh, there is still no federal law on Ingushetia’s administrative borders. There are fears that as soon as a new president is elected in Chechnia he will immediately raise the question of the republic’s administrative borders: since 1992 Chechnia and Ingushetia have been contesting the Sunzha District.16
Eighth, lack of agreement between the sides on the return of the forced migrants. While the Ingush side is accusing the North Ossetian leaders of opposing the process thus violating the Ingushes’ constitutional rights the Osset side believes that the leaders of Ingushetia and the federal structures (the offices of the presidential plenipotentiary representative in the Southern Federal District and of the special presidential representative) are deliberately accelerating the process. It is pointed out that North Ossetia is the first among the “hot spots” where forced migrants were resolved to return.
Ninth, due to inadequate cooperation among the law enforcers of North Ossetia and Ingushetia the people in the settlement zone are not adequately protected.
Tenth, a large number of Osset refugees from South Ossetia and Georgia’s inner areas still remain in the Prigorodniy District (about 7.5 thou); some of them have occupied houses and flats abandoned by their Ingush owners. Ingushes are convinced that because of them they cannot claim their homes back.
Eleventh, fear of demographic expansion: in the next ten years the ethnic composition of the district’s contested part may change in favor of the Ingushes because of their much higher birth rate. (According to the RF State Committee for Statistics, the birth rate among the Ingushes is one of the highest while among the Ossets, one of the lowest in Russia.)
Twelfth, inadequate funding of the conflict settlement measures by the Center.
Finally, people in both republics are well armed. Between November 1992 and 30 September, 2003 the Mobile Detachment of RF Ministry of the Interior stationed to ensure security in the settlement zone recovered, together with the law enforcement bodies of both republics, over 4.3 thou units of small firearms, including nearly 70 machine guns, more than 1.3 thou service submachine guns, over 650 rifles and carbines, about 2.3 thou pistols of various types and 1.6 thou unregistered smooth-bore rifles. In the same period, 66 armored vehicles, over 360 grenade launchers, 13.5 thou shells and rockets, nearly 8.5 thou hand grenades, over 550 mines and explosive devices, around 1.2 tons of explosive substances, about 942 thou units of ammunition of various types were recovered in both republics. This is a sure sign that the ethnic-political and crime situation there is far from simple.
First possibility. The settlement will take a long, or even indefinite, time to complete. The ethnic-political situation will be described as “protracted opposition” with flare-ups. Ingushetia will not abandon its claims and its attempts to realize the Law on Rehabilitation of the Repressed Peoples and to have the Law on Rehabilitation of the Ingush People adopted. North Ossetia will insist on abolition of Arts 3 and 6 of the law as well as Art 11 of the Constitution of Ingushetia. This will inevitably increase tension and will lead to numerous political actions (rallies, statements, etc); convoys with returning Ingush refugees will be stopped.
The leaders of both republics will demonstrate, more actively than before, their readiness to apply political means and will do nothing practical to end the conflict. The administration of the Prigorodniy District and the local Ossets will never abandon their efforts to prevent the fulfillment of numerous agreements (including the agreement the two presidents signed on 11 October, 2002) especially the parts related to the forced migrants’ return. Both sides will continue accusing the Center. The Ossets will insist that the Center is doing its best to speed up the return of forced migrants while the Ingush side will insist that the process is not going fast enough.
The leaders of both republics are not yet ready to enter into a constructive dialog on the conflict’s roots (part of the Prigorodniy District), therefore no political settlement can be expected in the nearest future.
Second possibility. If the structure of state administration of the RF is changed (which is possible), the functions of the special representative will also change. The office might be reorganized or disbanded. In the latter case its functions will be transferred to other structures, the administration of the presidential plenipotentiary representative in the Southern Federal District being one of them. In any case, the influence of this structure will be limited to financial aid to those who lost their homes during the conflict and after it and to restoration of the ruined infrastructure.
The Ossets will be quite satisfied with this: they have been convinced that the federal structures were on the side of Ingushetia. It is believed in Vladikavkaz that having got their money many of the Ingush families will prefer to remain outside North Ossetia. In fact, this decision is prompted by the ethnic-political situation in North Ossetia no longer controlled by federal structures.
On the other hand, the Ingush side that accuses the federal structures of lack of activity when it comes to the forced migrants’ issue will not like this possibility. The leaders and the Ingushes living in North Ossetia are convinced that federal structures should be present in the republic to resolve the forced migrants’ problem, ensure their security and create conditions conducive to their normal life in North Ossetia. This explains why from time to time the Ingush leaders insist on a direct federal rule in the contested part of the Prigorodniy District.
Any similar reorganization of the federal structures involved in the settlement will force the leaders and public movements of Ingushetia to insist on either promptly resolving the territorial issue in accordance with the Law on Rehabilitation of the Repressed Peoples or introducing direct federal rule on the contested territory. This will increase the already strong anti-Ingush sentiments in North Ossetia. Return of the forced migrants will be stopped; a settlement will stall.
Third possibility. The conflict can be resolved through political measures if and when a new generation of politicians comes to power in both republics. One hopes that they will prove immune to the “pressure of the mob” and that they will offer their republics new prospects. This alone will lead to a compromise over the Prigorodniy District and uproot the problem.
1 The figures the sources of which are not specified are based on the materials of the Russian State Archives of Economics and on information supplied by North Ossetian ministries and departments.
2 Ingushskiy vestnik Bulletin, No. 1, 1989, p. 13.
3 Severnaia Ossetia, 15 October, 2002.
4 See, for example: Severnaia Ossetia, 12 October, 2002; Sotsial-Demokrat Alanii, No. 13, October 2002; Nedelia Ossetii, 16 October, 2002.
5 Kommunist Ossetii, No. 8, November 2002.
6 Aivadan-Zerkalo. Obshcheosetinskaia nezavisimaia gazeta, No. 1, February-March 2003.
7 Current Archives of the Center for Social and Humanitarian Research of the Vladikavkaz Institute of Management.
8 Aivadan-Zerkalo, No. 1, February-March 2003.
9 See, for example: Angusht. Novaia ingushskaia gazeta, No. 44, March 2003.
10 From a contribution to a round table discussion “Ethnic Relationships: Stabilization of the Situation and Peace in the Northern Caucasus” held in Magas on 31 March, 2003 and conducted on the initiative and with the participation of the State Duma Committee on Ethnic Policies and the People’s Assembly of Ingushetia. I personally attended the discussion and have to say that neither the Osset nor the Ingush side accused one another of unleashing the 1992 conflict (quite recently each of the sides believed that the blame lay on the opposite side and the federal center). Those who attended the round table agreed that the federal center was the main culprit and that “its present passivity in the sphere of ethnic relations interferes with the conflict settlement.” The round table participants were convinced that the sides alone, without help of a third party (the federal center) would never find a political solution.
11 See: Alanty Nykhas, No. 5, March 2003.
12 Materialy piatogo zasedaniia 18-y sessii Verkhovnogo Soveta Severo-Osetinskoi SSR (10 noiabria 1992 g.), Vladikavkaz, 1992, p. 25.
13 Sotsial-Demokrat Alanii, No. 8, April 2002.
14 V. Kalamanov, Metodologia uregulirovania mezhnatsional’nykh konfliktov na territorii Rossiiskoy federatsii, Moscow, 1999, p. 181.
15 See: Nezavisimaia gazeta, 23 March, 1994.
16 For more detail, see: A. Dzadziev, “O gosudarstvennoy kommissii po opredeleniiu granits mezhdu Respublikoy Ingushetia i Chechenskoy Respublikoy,” Bulleten EAWARN (Set’ etnologicheskogo monitoringa i rannego preduprezhdenia konfliktov), Moscow, No. 9, 1996; E. Adamova, K. Novikov, et al., “Spornye territorii,” Kommersant-VLAST, 28 July-3 August, 2003, p. 78.