Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 181

Meeting in Nazran, the capital of Ingushetia, on September 27, the leaders of eight republics and regions of the north Caucasus expressed approval of the Khasavyurt accords, signed on August 31 by Aleksandr Lebed and Chechen chief-of-staff Aslan Maskhadov. Lebed himself was at the meeting, which was presided over by Ingush president Ruslan Aushev. Also on the agenda was the creation of a regional security machinery for the peaceful resolution of conflicts in the North Caucasus. A regional congress will be held in the autumn to hammer out details. (Itar-Tass, September 27) Aushev expressed concern about the territorial disputes likely to arise not only if Chechnya secedes from Russia, but even if it opts to remain within the Russian Federation. (RTR, September 29) Indeed, Chechnya’s borders have never been formally determined. In the Soviet period they were repeatedly re-drawn, especially after Stalin’s deportation of the Chechens and the Ingush in 1944, and again after their return in the mid-1950s. As detailed below, Chechnya now has three major bones of territorial contention: (1) with Ingushetia to the west, (2) with Dagestan to the east, and (3) with Stavropol krai to the north.

(1) Stalin lumped the Chechens and the Ingush together in a single territory in 1934, but historically the two peoples have always occupied separate territories. After Chechnya declared independence in 1991, it unilaterally established its western border with Ingushetia along the frontier that divided the Chechen and Ingush territories prior to their 1934 merger. There were immediate protests by the Ingush, who erected barricades along the disputed border and complained that Chechnya was claiming land that historically belonged to the Ingush. The dispute was patched over in 1993 when Chechen and Ingush presidents Dudaev and Aushev agreed for the time being not to demarcate the frontier between Chechnya and Ingushetia, but the matter remains to be sorted out.

(2) Chechnya has a potential conflict over Khasavyurt district, in the western part of the Dagestan, which is populated predominantly by Chechens. Once Chechnya’s status is established, these Chechens are likely to want to be united with their brethren across the border. Chechnya might also lay claim to Dagestan’s Aukhovsky district, which was Chechen-settled territory until 1944 when Stalin deported the Chechens who lived there. There have been many minor disputes in recent years between Chechens and the Laks and Avars who moved into the district after the Chechens were deported.

(3) The resurgence of the Cossack movement is another major potential source of conflict. Cossacks in northern Chechnya and Dagestan have been demanding autonomy or that areas where Cossacks are concentrated should be transferred to Russia proper. These include the Russian-inhabited Naursky and Shelkovsky districts on the left bank of the River Terek, which formed part of Stavropol krai from 1944 to 1957.

CIS Defense Industries: Putting Humpty-Dumpty Back Together Again.