Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 15

On May 19, Agence France Presse reported that, during recent talks with the newly elected Ingush president, retired FSB General Murat Zyazikov, President Putin “said the [Chechen] refugees must return very soon [to Chechnya] and called for Ingush and Chechen authorities to spearhead repatriation efforts.” Putin, thus, explicitly endorsed a speedy resettlement program. Just three days after Putin’s comments, however, Russian human rights ombudsman Oleg Mironov warned that the worst human rights disaster in all of Russian history would occur if 150,000 IDPs from Ingushetia came home too soon. “For the moment,” Mironov cautioned, “security is not guaranteed in Chechnya. There is not enough housing, not enough jobs.” Whose opinion, one wonders, will prevail on this question, that of Putin or Mironov? (Agence France Presse, May 19)

To mark the inauguration of Murat Zyazikov as the new president of Ingushetia, local Ingush police launched a major cleansing operation against the “Alina” camp for Chechen internally displaced persons. “At about 4:00 a.m. [on May 22],” Kommersant reported, “an entire block of the camp in which 3,000 persons live was encircled by a mobile detachment of men carrying automatic weapons.” The Ingush police “dedicated the cleansing of ‘Alina’ to the inauguration of President Murat Zyazikov” (Kommersant, May 23).