The presidents of Ingushetia and North Ossetia, Ruslan Aushev and Akhsarbek Galazov, met in Nazran on May 7 and signed a declaration of intent to resolve the conflict dividing their republics. (Interfax, Itar-Tass, May 7) In October, 1992, interethnic conflict between Ossetians and Ingush in North Ossetia Prigorodny District claimed the lives of some 1,000 people and forced an estimated 60,000 Ingush to flee their homes.
The conflict had its roots in Stalin’s 1944 deportation of the Ingush to Central Asia. Until then, Prigorodny District, a mountainous area of some fifty square miles, was part of Checheno-Ingushetia. In 1946, Stalin transferred it to North Ossetia. The Ingush have been trying to get it back ever since.
Some 10,000 Ingush have returned home since 1992, but the majority have not yet done so and more than 40,000 remain in Ingushetia. Negotiations on repatriating the refugees have been going on for almost five years, but virtually no progress has been made and the two presidents have still not signed the friendship treaty which they initialed in December 1995.
The Ingush authorities blame the North Ossetians for delaying the refugees return, but the North Ossetian authorities have said that Moscow is at fault for not appropriating enough money for the repatriation. It is doubtful that Moscow will be able to pay the money now, since it is likely also to have to pay a significant amount of money for the reconstruction of Chechnya. It therefore seems likely that the results of last week’s meeting, like those of previous ones, will remain only a declaration of intent.
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