- An ethnic republic of the Russian Federation. The Ingush—along with their closely related neighbors, the Chechens— were incorporated into the Mountain People’s Republic of Soviet Russia in 1920. After the establishment of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), each gained its own autonomous region within Russia. In 1934, through the merger of the Chechen and Ingush autonomous oblasts, a Checheno-Ingush Autonomous Oblast was established as a biethnic homeland for the two nationalities, becoming an Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR) two years later. The ASSR was abolished in 1944 when both groups were deported en masse to Central Asia for alleged collaboration with the Nazi invaders. Ingush lands were subsequently transferred to the Ossetians. The Checheno-Ingush ASSR was restored in 1957 by Nikita Khrushchev. However, upon their rehabilitation and return to the region, the Ingush were forced to purchase their old homes, land, and businesses from the Ossetian settlers. Furthermore, some traditionally Ingush lands remained within Ossetiya.As the Soviet Union unraveled in 1991, Chechnya and Ingushetiya split apart. The dissolution of the republican condominium was precipitated by the rise of Jokhar Dudayev, whose declaration of Chechen sovereignty under the banner of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeriya prompted the Ingush to throw their support behind the federal authorities. Dudayev had previously predicted that the Ingush would side with Moscow in hopes of obtaining a slice of the much larger Chechen portion of their shared republic. The Ingush subsequently voted to form their own republic within Russia, a de facto reality recognized by Moscow in 1992. Contemporary Ingushetiya comprised the western fifth of the Checheno-Ingush ASSR as it was demarcated in the late Soviet era. Ingush forces then moved to reclaim disputed portions of the Prigorodny district in North Ossetiya, specifically lands that had belonged to the pre-1944 ChechenoIngush ASSR and were occupied by ethnic Ingush. The move precipitated a regional conflict that lasted two years. The intervention of federal troops on behalf of Orthodox Ossetians against Muslim Ingush permanently strained relations between the republic and the Kremlin. The conflict also prompted an influx of refugees from North Ossetiya, a problem compounded by the concurrent flood of Chechens fleeing the first Chechen War.Today, the republic borders Chechnya in the east and north, North Ossetiya in the west, and Georgia in the south. Ingushetiya is part of the Southern Federal District and the North Caucasus Economic Region. As Russia’s smallest federal subject (excepting the two federal cities), Ingushetiya covers approximately 4,000 square kilometers, although the exact area is unknown as the border between the republic and Chechnya has not been fully demarcated. The terrain is extremely mountainous, with some peaks reaching almost 4,500 meters. It is rich in natural resources and minerals, including marble, dolomite, plaster, limestone, gravel, granite, clay, rare metals, oil, and natural gas. The administrative capital is the newly founded city of Magas; there are only a few hundred permanent residents in the municipality. Magas is located less than 25 kilometers south of Nazran, the regional capital from 1991 to 2002.The official population of the republic is 467,000 as of the 2002 census; however, this figure does not fully represent the semipermanent influx of refugees from neighboring Chechnya. Some estimates put the population at near 600,000, of which only half are native to the republic. Officially, ethnic Ingush account for more than threequarters of the population, with Chechens making up 20 percent, though the actual ratio of Ingush to Chechens is likely much closer to parity. With only about 1 percent of its residents being ethnic Russian, it is the least Russian administrative region in the country. Ingushetiya is one of Russia’s most crime-ridden, terrorismprone, and economically depressed regions. Largely an agricultural society in the early 1990s, much of the land was transferred to private enterprises and joint-stock companies, reducing the percentage of the labor force involved in such work. Animal husbandry and the industrial sector are other major areas of jobs in the region. However, Ingushetiya’s unemployment level, estimated at 65–70 percent, is the highest of any federal subject (excepting Chechnya due to lack of data). The region’s economy began to improve in the late 1990s, but was again damaged by instability in the region resulting from the second Chechen War. Corruption has since skyrocketed and the republic now depends on subsidies from Moscow for nearly 90 percent of its annual budget.In 1993, Ruslan Aushev, a Soviet war hero and parliamentarian, ran unopposed to become the first president of the republic. He was reelected two years later. During the Chechen conflict, he often upbraided Moscow for its actions and expressed some level of solidarity with the Chechens. His tenure saw amendments to federal law that conformed to the “national traditions” of the Ingush people (including polygamy), as well as certain aspects of sharia (Islamic law). He left office voluntarily in 2002 but returned to the public eye in 2004 when he served as a negotiator in the Beslan hostage crisis. His successor, former KGB and FSB agent Murat Zyazikov, won election under questionable circumstances, becoming the second president of the republic in 2002. He quickly became known for cronyism and nepotism. He has a close relationship with Vladimir Putin, who along with his successor, Dmitry Medvyedev, is popular in the republic. On Zyazikov’s watch, the level of violence in the republic has increased precipitously, often touching him personally. In 2004, Zyazikov was wounded in a car bomb attack. In 2006, his father-in-law was kidnapped, though later released. In 2007, his uncle was also kidnapped and then released. Zyazikov’s motorcade was showered with bullets in July of that year as well. Hundreds of Ingush men have vanished without a trace in recent years and guerilla attacks by radical Islamists have often spilled over into the republic. A particularly deadly instance occurred in 2004 when nearly 100 people were killed in coordinated attacks on Nazran. The security services were specifically targeted; the acting interior minister and Nazran’s chief prosecutor, as well as other high-ranking police officers, security officials, and prosecutors, were gunned down. Despite Moscow’s support of the leader, he has faced increasing calls to step down because of corruption and failure to stem violence and crime. The only opposition media outlet, the website www.Ingushetia.ru, has been at the forefront of this campaign. Fearful of a color revolution, Zyazikov has frequently prevented public rallies since 2005.See also Ethnic violence.
Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. Robert A. Saunders and Vlad Strukov. 2010.
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