Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 20

On July 1, the Associated Press reported: “More than 10,000 refugees in Ingushetia have applied to return home [to Chechnya] and the number is growing every day, Ingush President Murat Zyazikov said on June 30.” “It is a voluntary process,” Zyazikov emphasized. “The refugees will not be forcefully ousted from Ingushetia. They are Russian citizens and have the right to live where they want.”

Writing in the June 29 issue of the Prague Watchdog, however, correspondent Otto Braun observed that: “Chechens face expulsion from local refugee camps [in Ingushetia]. Those should be closed by September 2002, and the Russian army units which recently settled near the camps are going to help with that.” Braun noted that Russian human rights ombudsman Oleg Mironov had “characterized the plan of fast repatriation of Chechens from Ingushetia as the biggest human rights catastrophe of modern Russian history.”