OSSETIAN-INGUSH CRISIS PUTS KREMLIN IN DIFFICULT POSITION.
Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 146
Last week’s trip by Russian Security Council secretary Ivan Rybkin and nationalities minister Vyacheslav Mikhailov to the Prigorodny district of North Ossetia appears to have yielded few results. Contrary to the expectations of those close to Ingushetia’s president Ruslan Aushev and North Ossetia’s president Akhsarbek Galazov, the Kremlin seems not yet to have worked out a mechanism for settling the Ossetian-Ingush conflict. Rybkin said on his return that Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin may visit Prigorodny this week. (Russian agencies, July 26)
On July 15, Aushev appealed to the Kremlin to declare direct presidential rule in Prigorodny. When this elicited sharp protests from Vladikavkaz, Aushev changed tack and called instead for Russia to send peacekeepers from Interior Ministry units to the conflict zone. (Russian agencies, July 24) The effect of either of the measures would have been identical: security would be guaranteed for returning refugees and the pace of repatriation would increase drastically.
According to Aushev, Vladikavkaz is deliberately slowing the pace of repatriation. If the Kremlin puts pressure on the Ossetians, it risks ruining relations with its most loyal Northern Caucasus ally. But Moscow cannot ignore the other side of the argument, either. There is a more or less constant public dialogue going on in Ingushetia. Monitor’s correspondent, who has been in Ingushetia observing developments, says that many blame Aushev for being too soft, and call on the Ingush to defend their brethren with armed force. Any delay on Moscow’s part in settling the crisis could lead to Ingushetia’s reorientation toward Djohar-gala (possibly against the will of the republic’s leadership). Or, Ingush refugees could appeal to one of the maverick Chechen field commanders not under the control of the Chechen authorities. The Kremlin is therefore in a very awkward position: concessions to either republic could destabilize the situation in the other.
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