Vienna, October 13 – Yesterday at a village near the Chechen-Ingush border and today in the Chechen capital of Grozny, Chechens and Ingush took part in demonstrations, organized by officials of the two governments apparently with the full support of Moscow, that called for the re-unification of the two republics.
According to the independent Internet portal, Ingushetia.org, officials from the two republic governments assembled a crowd of up to 1,000 people in Sernovodsk to support the idea of re-uniting Chechnya and Ingushetia and an unknown number in Grozny to demand the same thing (www.ingushetia.org/news/16008.html and www.ingushetia.org/news/16033.html).
Participants at the Sernovodsk meeting told the website’s correspondents that they had been given 1,000 rubles (40 U.S. dollars) and bused to the sites by officials. Participants carried signs with appeals like “We are for unity of the Vaynakh Peoples” and “Chechens and Ingush are a Single People,” and speakers called for Moscow to join the two republics together.
Ostensibly, Ingushetia.ru reported, at least yesterday’s meeting was organized by Chechen officials who declared that “they did not want” the Ingush to continue to suffer at the hands of militants and thus believed that “having united together in one republic, [the Chechens] would be ready to help [their] brother Ingush” (www.ingushetia.org/news/16010.html).
But standing behind these local officials, the site continued, are officials around Ingush President Murad Zyazikov, who has little support in his own republic, Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, who has suggested unity before, and Moscow officials, who have concluded that this is a way to end the unrest in Ingushetia (www.islamcom.ru/material.php?id=690).
Until 1992, the two peoples did live in a single republic, but they separated when Chechnya launched its drive for independence. In the last year, however, Chechnya under Kadyrov has been reliably pro-Moscow albeit increasingly authoritarian, while Ingushetia under Zyazikov has been increasingly unstable.
That pattern, as well as Vladimir Putin’s longstanding effort to amalgamate federation subjects and the fluidity that the recent conflict in Georgia has introduced in the region, helps to explain why the three governments might view the re-unification of Chechnya and Ingushetia as an obvious way out of current difficulties.
But all three of them may be making a serious miscalculation. According to Ingushetia.ru, “the Ingush will never give up their statehood” especially now that it is clear that “everything that has taken place in the republic [in recent months] has been done in order to prepare for unification” (www.ingushetia.org/news/16008.html).
And that suggests that a any move intended to allow Kadyrov to pacify Ingushetia almost certainly would spark even more resistance to Zyazikov, whose brutal but ineffective rule has already pushed many in that republic, long considered to be one of the most loyal in the North Caucasus, to talk about independence.