Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 120

Russian paratroopers yesterday killed a civilian and wounded others in the course of seizing control of Ingushetia’s civilian airport in Sleptsovsk. The paratroopers landed from helicopters, shot their guns chaotically inside the airport, and held it for a few hours before leaving again, according to the accounts supplied by Ingush Republic vice-president Boris Agapov and the office of president Ruslan Aushev. Prior to the raid, the Russian military warned the Ingush leadership that Chechen pro-Dudayev detachments had entered Ingushetia. The Ingush leaders described the warnings and the raid as a "provocation" aimed at drawing Ingushetia into the war. (14)

Ingushetia has periodically been subjected to Russian bombardments and threats since the beginning of the war in Chechnya. The Ingush population and leaders have in fact sympathized with closely related Chechnya in the present war, but have never intervened. Aushev and Agapov are former Soviet generals, whose once unquestioning loyalty to Russia has been shaken by Moscow’s policy in North Caucasus and pressures on their own republic. While yesterday’s "provocation" is not the first, it may appear to the Ingush leaders more sinister because it coincides with the reconvening of the Chechen-Ingush ASSR’s Supreme Soviet, which leads them to fear a possible reincorporation of Ingushetia into Chechnya.

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