As of March 1, the federal and Ingush authorities had not fully succeeded in their campaign to close all the refugee camps in Ingushetia by that date. But they were getting closer. An official of the Kadyrov administration told Interfax on March 1 that the Bart refugee camp in the Ingush town of Karabulak had been officially closed. That leaves only two tent camps still operating in the Ingush republic: Satsita and Sputnik.
Said Bitsoev reported in a March 1 article for Novye izvestia that on the previous day the Kadyrov administration’s migration service had reiterated its determination to close all the refugee camps in the near future. Lema Bichuev, deputy head of that agency, claimed that five new resettlement centers were being opened within Chechnya. It seems clearer than ever that the goal is to get all the refugees back into their homeland before Russia’s mid-March presidential election.
The father of one Chechen family in the Bart camp was interviewed in late February–as the family was fearfully packing for its return to Chechnya–by a correspondent of the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting. The father said that “everyone from the president right down to the last bureaucrat in Ingushetia’s migration service constantly tells us that there will be no forced return of Chechen refugees to the homeland, but in actual fact it’s not like that at all….Forced migrants are being threatened, blackmailed and such unbearable conditions are being created that they are basically being forced to leave.”