Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 147

Statements by Russian security council secretary Ivan Rybkin on his return from the North Caucasus late last week suggest that his view of the conflict between North Ossetia and Ingushetia over Prigorodny district has more in common with that of Vladikavkaz than of Nazran. Rybkin appeared, for example, to support the position of the North Ossetian authorities that the mass repatriation of Ingush refugees can take place only after the financing of a housing reconstruction program in Prigorodny. He also criticized the government for withholding 55 percent of the money allotted to assist refugees in the conflict zone. (Russian agencies, July 26) The chief of administration of Prigorodny district, Pavel Tedeev, informed the Monitor that, of the 200 billion rubles allotted by Moscow for the restoration of destroyed housing in the district, only 14 billion has so far been received.

Rybkin, moreover, seems too to have adopted the Ossetian side’s interpretation of statistics both as to the number of Ingush living in the district before the 1992 conflict broke out and as to the number of people wishing to repatriate now. He told journalists that, of the 16,700 Ingush who fled their homes in 1992, 11,000 have so far returned to Prigorodny. (Russian news agencies, July 26) However, the figure of 16,700 represents only those Ingush who were officially registered in Prigorodny prior to the conflict. According to the Ingush side, the real number was much higher. In the Soviet period, special directives from the North Ossetian authorities restricted the registration of ethnic Ingush in Prigorodny. According to Nazran, a total of 40,000 Ingush were living in Prigorodny on the eve of the conflict.

Moreover, the real number of repatriates, as the Monitor’s correspondent has seen for himself, is significantly lower than the 11,000 cited by Vladikavkaz. The village of Dachnoe, for example, was home to some 2,000 Ingush prior to the 1992 conflict, some 70 percent of whom are now said to have returned. In reality, only about 200 people live there now. The same is true of the village of Kurtat to which, according to official figures, 80 percent of the Ingush population is supposed to have returned. In reality, not a single person lives there today. "The figure of 11,000 represents those Ingush who lived in Prigorodny and who have received permission to return. Some of them have not done so, usually because of lack of housing — but that is not our concern," Tedeev told the Monitor.

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