…While Some Ingush Recall the Ossetian- Ingush Violence of 1992

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 17

According to Kavkazky Uzel, on April 24, the press service of Ingushetia’s president, Murat Zyazikov, reported that he conveyed condolences on behalf of the republic in a telegram sent to Yeltsin’s family. “Boris Nikolaevich Yeltsin was a remarkable, larger-than-life person, one of the outstanding political figures of modern times, whose life was completely dedicated to serving our homeland,” Zyazikov’s telegram read. “He was always distinguished by his love and devotion to the Motherland, adherence to principle, lofty civil position, political wisdom and kindness. Those qualities invariably evoked in Russians a deep feeling of respect for him.” Zyazikov also said in his telegram that Yeltsin was “a unique personality” whose name “will forever be inscribed in the annals of Russian and world history.” He added: “It is always said about such people that they have gone on to immortality.”

A local expert in Ingushetia who asked that his name not be used was less enchanted with Yeltsin’s record as Russian president. “Many people in Russia assess his activity in that post positively,” he told Kavkazky Uzel correspondent Timur Khamkhoev. “Yeltsin is called a reformer, a person who made Russia into a democratic state and gave the country freedom. As for the influence of Yeltsin’s policy on our region and the North Caucasus in general, I [would] not give [it] the highest grade. First of all, it was precisely during his rule in the autumn of 1992 that the armed clash took place in the Ossetian-Ingush conflict zone, the consequences of which have to this day not yet been resolved. The same thing applies to the first ‘Chechen campaign,’ the natural continuation of which was the start of military actions in 1999. In my view, the direct and immediate responsibility for these tragedies lies with Yeltsin, the then head of state.”

The expert said that Yeltsin could not or did not want to show the political wisdom necessary to prevent the situation in the North Caucasus from developing in a negative direction, even though it was his responsibility to do so. “He handed over the resolution of these complicated problems to his short-sighted aides and advisers,” he said. “The result of that policy is well known – tens of thousands of people killed, hundreds of thousands of refugees, both in the Prigorodny district of North Ossetia and in Chechnya. The infrastructure of an entire republic was completely destroyed. Even after these tragic mistakes were made, Boris Yeltsin did nothing to correct them. If you asses the epoch of Yeltsin through the prism of the events in the North Caucasus, then you can say that his rule here was distinguished by neither wisdom nor democracy. He was unable to repudiate the customary imperial attitude towards small nationalities. But, be that as it may, it is already impossible to change anything, and we can only regret that it was this person who was elected president of Russia in the summer of 1991.”