President Boris Yeltsin spoke by telephone yesterday with the president of Ingushetia, Ruslan Aushev. (Itar-Tass, July 17) The conversation followed an incident in which a bomb destroyed a bus taking Ingush refugees back to the homes in the Prigorodny district of North Ossetia that they fled in 1992. Seventeen people were injured in the explosion, ten seriously, though early reports of deaths were later denied. Aushev again appealed to Yeltsin to declare presidential rule in Prigorodny district. In recent weeks, Ingush returning to their homes there have been attacked, beaten, and even killed. The president of North Ossetia opposes presidential rule and has called instead for a Caucasus security conference, but Aushev told Yeltsin yesterday that only direct intervention by Moscow can resolve the situation. Yeltsin promised Aushev to take "the necessary" measures, but these were not specified in news reports.
The issue is to be discussed at a meeting of the Russian Security Council next week, though it seems unlikely a definitive decision will be adopted then since both Yeltsin and Security Council secretary Ivan Rybkin are away from Moscow on holiday. There have been unsubstantiated rumors that Yeltsin might return to the capital for next week’s meeting, but no reports of Rybkin’s possible return.
Interethnic violence and hostage-taking have increased sharply in recent weeks in Ingushetia. The deterioration in the security situation there is causing serious alarm among international aid organizations. Many of them moved their missions to the Ingush capital, Nazran, when hostage-taking made Chechnya and Dagestan too dangerous for foreign aid workers. Now, aid workers have been abducted in Ingushetia too. According to a spokesman for the British-based Medical Emergency Relief International, "Nazran has always been considered a safe haven, but this is not the case anymore. If not Nazran, then where to go?" (Forced Migration Alert, No. 37, July 14)
West Looks to Reassure Russia After NATO Summit.