Vienna, September 2 – The Russian government is laying the groundwork for the eventual re-unification of Chechnya and Ingushetia, with parliamentary hearings likely to be held approximately a month from now and the scheduling of referenda about this announced in October or November, according to a “Novaya versiya” reporter.
In an article published on that Moscow site today, Ruslan Gorevoy says that if things proceed as those backing this idea hope – and they include not only Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov but deputies in both republics, he reports -- “it is possible that by next spring the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Republic will again appear on the map of the Russian Federation.”
But if there is support for this project in Chechnya and to a lesser extent in Ingushetia, there are concerns not only in both those places but more generally that such a step would create problems within these areas, might be the first step toward Kadyrov’s dream of a much larger entity in the North Caucasus, or could trigger other efforts at re-unification by the Circassians.
Dukuvakha Abdurakhmanov, a Chechen parliamentarian, told Gorevoy that “the Chechens have decided to reestablish their republic in the borders of the times of the USSR and people do not see anything bad about that.” Instead, he adds, “the Waynakh people should live together. Such processes are taking place in Russia. All of Europe is uniting.”
The deputy, who has been pushing this idea since the late 1990s, said that there have been meetings in support of re-unification in both Grozny and Magas, confirmation, he insisted, that “the population is not opposed to living together as they did 20 years ago.” But others say that Kadyrov is behind this (versia.ru/articles/2009/sep/02/objedinenie_chechni_i_ingushetii).
And both because of his authoritarian approach and because of another unification plan with which Kadyrov’s father was behind – one that would unite Chechnya, Ingushetia and Daghestan – many in the region and elsewhere as suspicious of anything that Ramzan Kadyrov is for.
Combing Daghestan with the two Waynakh republics would be difficult, Gorevoy concedes, given its ethnic diversity, but it should be relatively easy for Chechnya and Ingushetia to find a common language given that they were together during much of Soviet times, except when the republic was suppressed when they were deported at the end of World War II.
But all efforts to amalgamate federal units in Russia, efforts that have been actively backed by Vladimir Putin, have generated resistance, and consequently, this report may represent nothing more than yet another testing of the waters to see who would support combining Chechnya and Ingushetia and even more who would oppose it.
Meanwhile, yet another border change, this one outside the Russian Federation, is being discussed this week. Following the resignation of Vladimir Voronin as president of Moldova in order to keep his seat in parliament, Moscow commentator Stanislav Belkovsky argues that Moscow should recognize the breakaway republic of Transdniestria as an independent state.
With the Communist Voronin’s resignation, Belkovsky says, Moldova is “saying goodbye to post-Soviet history,” and the appropriate Russian response should be to extend diplomatic recognition to Tiraspol not only to counter increasingly pro-Western moves by Chisinau but also to extend Moscow’s influence (svpressa.ru/politic/article/13584/).
But as desirable as such a move would be, the president of the Institute of National Strategy adds, “this step naturally will not be realized quickly. Here the situation is qualitatively different from that of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. But if Moldova begins integration with Romania, then the independence of Transdniestria will be a genuine reality.”