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Regions and territories: Ingushetia

Map of Ingushetia and area

The Republic of Ingushetia in the Russian North Caucasus borders on Georgia to the south.

Its neighbours within Russia are Chechnya and North Ossetia. The overwhelming majority of the population is Muslim and clan links are an integral part of society.

Overview

The Ingush and Chechen peoples have close historical, cultural and linguistic ties, although the Ingush have not shared in the fierceness of the resistance to Moscow put up by the Chechens over the past 200 years.

Part of the Russian empire since the early 19th century, Ingushetia was formally joined to Chechnya under Soviet rule in 1936 when it formed around one-fifth of the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Republic within Russia.

Like the Chechens, the Ingush, despite their history of relative loyalty to Moscow, were deported to Central Asia towards the end of World War II by Stalin who accused them of collaborating with the Nazis. They were allowed to return only in 1957 when Khrushchev was Soviet leader.

When Dzhokhar Dudayev came to power as Chechen leader in 1991 and declared Chechen sovereignty, the Ingush resisted. A brief conflict ensured, and the Ingush subsequently voted in a referendum to form a separate republic within the Russia Federation.

Post-Soviet period

The Ingush and North Ossetians have a history of rivalry. Ingushetia lays claim to the neighbouring Prigorodny district which was included in the Russian Republic of North Ossetia when Stalin deported the Ingush in 1944. For many years after their return, the district had a substantial Ingush population.

Scene car bombing that wounded regional leader Yunus-Bek Yevkurov in June 2009
Ingushetia sees frequent attacks blamed on Islamist militants

In late 1992 violence erupted. The North Ossetians say it was sparked by Ingush radicals seeking to include Prigorodny in the newly formed Republic of Ingushetia. The Ingush assert that the North Ossetians attacked first and that they acted in self defence.

After hundreds were killed in the clashes, Moscow sent troops to establish order. The Ingush population was expelled from the district, causing a refugee crisis in Ingushetia.

Another refugee crisis presented itself when thousands of Chechens fled into Ingushetia when Russian troops returned to Chechnya in 1999.

In the years since, a radical Muslim insurgency has spread from Chechnya across the entire North Caucasus region, and militant attacks have become a frequent occurrence in Ingushetia.

In June 2004, several dozen people, including the acting Ingush interior minister, were killed in attacks reported to have involved hundreds of gunmen. The incident, and subsequent clashes, prompted the Kremlin to order a change of leadership in a bid to reduce the level of violence.

However, there was a renewed spate of attacks in 2009, including a suicide bombing at a police station that killed at least 25 people - the deadliest attack in the republic since 2005 - and an attempt on the life of President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov.

Moscow reacted by announcing another overhaul of security in the republic, and in June the following year, security forces announced the arrest of a leading militant linked to the assassination attempt, and several other attacks.

In October 2010, Mr Yevkurov said militants had killed more than 400 members of the security forces and wounded more than 3,000 civilians in the past five years.

Facts

  • Territory: Ingushetia
  • Status: Republic within Russian Federation
  • Population: 300,000
  • Religion: Islam
  • Capital: Magas (previous capital was nearby Nazran)
  • Languages: Ingush, Russian
  • Currency: Rouble

Leaders

President: Yunus-Bek Yevkurov

Ingush President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov was severely wounded in a suicide bomb attack in June 2009. He spent two months recovering from his injuries at a resort near Moscow and then returned home promising to wage a "merciless" fight against terrorism.

Yunus-Bek Yevkurov
Yunus-Bek Yevkurov was brought in to stem the violence

A highly-decorated career soldier, Mr Yevkurov was appointed by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to replace Murat Zyazikov as president of Ingushetia in October 2008.

Mr Zyazikov had come in for sustained criticism from opposition groups over his perceived failure to combat corruption, solve disputes with North Ossetia over refugees or reduce attacks on the security forces by Islamists.

The brutal methods used by the security forces to crush a small group of separatists fighting for an independent Islamic state in the region had helped to push some locals into supporting the Islamist cause, and Mr Yevkurov was faced with the challenge of trying to regain the confidence of the Ingush people.

Born in 1963, Mr Yevkurov came to prominence as commander of the Russian troops who took control of Pristina airport in Kosovo ahead of advancing NATO troops in 1999. This secured Russia's presence in the disputed region.

He was made a Hero of Russia, the country's highest honorary title, for his actions in bringing his troops out of encirclement during fighting with separatists in Chechnya in 2000.

Media

The authorities stand accused of stifling media freedom and of silencing opposition. The meagre local media scene consists almost entirely of official outlets.

Ingushetia is "a lawless zone where enemies of the press can attack journalists with impunity", says the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Russia's main national radio and TV networks are available. The sole, local terrestrial TV service is an opt-out of the national state-owned TV channel Rossiya.

Television is the main source of news and information, with Russian national networks commanding the lion's share of the audience.

Russia's national state-run Radio Russia and Mayak networks and the private entertainment-based network Serebryanyy Dozhd (Silver Rain) operate transmitters in Nazran.

In 2011, US-based Freedom House highlighted attempts by local authorities to block access to the blogging platform LiveJournal, on the grounds of extremist content.

Magomed Yevloyev, the editor of an opposition website, died from gunshot wounds after being detained by police in 2008.

The press

  • Serdalo - thrice-weekly, owned by local government
  • Ingushetiya - weekly, owned by local government

Television

  • GTRK Ingushetiya - local opt-out of national state-owned TV channel Rossiya

Radio

  • GTRK Ingushetiya - local opt-out of state-run Radio Russia

Websites

  • Ingushetia.ru - official site, featuring reports from president's press service


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Compiled by BBC Monitoring

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Russia names new Caucasus supremo
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Ingushetia in 'state of civil war'
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Russia 'abuses Ingush minority'
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