Geographical Features: Ingushetia is located between Chechenia to the east and North Ossetia to the west and borders Georgia in the south. The capital is Nazran. Area: 3000 km2, excluding the disputed Prigorodni Rayon.

Population: The population of Ingushetia is 300,000 including displaced Ingush. The Ingush refer to themselves as Galgai, the name of one of the main tribes.

Language: The Ingush are a Caucasian ethno-linguistic group.

Economy: Ingushetia has been designated a free economic zone. The republic has mineral water and is considering developing a modest tourist industry.

Brief History:
Like the Chechens, the Ingush are indigenous to the north slope of the Caucasus mountain range. Both peoples are descendants of the Nakh people.

- 1810 Ingushetia came under Russian rule. A large number of North Caucasians, including many Ingush, were forced to emigrate, mostly to the Ottoman Empire. Large number of Russians were resettled in the region.

- 1921 The Autonomous Soviet Mountain Republic, of which the Ingush formed a part together with Kabardians, Chechens, Circassians, Ossetians, Balkars and the Karachai, was created.

- 1924 Ingushetia became an autonomous district of the Russian Federation. The political and intellectual leadership of Ingushetia were deported.

- 1936 The Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Region was raised to the status of an Autonomous Republic. During the Stalinist puges of the 1930s, Ingush intellectual leaders were slaughtered, the language outlawed, and attempts were made to suppress Muslim traditions. The result, however, was that Muslim and anti-Russian sentiments were strengthened. Collectivisation reinforced these trends.

- In the Second World War, when the Nazi Germans neared the Caucasian oilfields, Ingush and Chechens were found on both sides in the war. Because of this lack of loyalty to Soviet power, the Chechens and Ingush (totalling 319,000 and 74,000 respectively) were deported to Siberia and Central Asia and removed from official statistics. The AO was disbanded.

- 1957 The Chechen-Ingush Republic was restored without The Prigorodni Rayon. Re-settlement caused tensions with neighboring peoples (Avars, Dargins and others) that had moved into their villages, and now had to be relocated. During the exile years, the Ingush became almost as fiercely anti-Russian as the Chechens.

- In the following decades, despite campaigns against religion, the Ingush clung to Islam. In 1975, it was estimated that - just like the Chechens - half the Ingush population belonged to Sufi brotherhoods. Mosques were reopened in 1978. Glasnost encouraged the various peoples of the Soviet Union to demand more autonomy, and the Ingush were no exception.

- 1991 In the turmoil after the August 1991 coup in Moscow, Chechen leaders declared an independent Chechen republic, separated from the Ingush. The republic of Ingushetia was established as part of the Russian Federation. Chechen independence was a challenge, not only to the Soviet Union, but also to the Russian Federation, of which it was part, and RSFSR President Yeltsin declared emergency rule and sent 1,000 troops which were almost immediately called back.

- In 1991, the Ingush claimed that the North-Ossetian capital, Vladikavkaz, should become part of a North-Ingushetian republic. They also argue that the Prigorodnyy region of North Ossetia is their historic homeland. Throughout 1992, there was sporadic fighting in the area, and the conflict has yet to be resolved.

- 1992 The Republic of Ingushetia formally became a republic within the new Russian Federation. Chechen leader Dudayev called for a Holy War against Russia, following an incident where these troops crossed the border between Chechnya and Ingushetiya. Russian-backed North Ossetia armed militia attacked Ingush villages in Prigorodni Rayon which belonged to Ossetia. The entire Ingush population fled to neighbouring Ingushetia, resulting in ethnic cleansing.

- A disastrous official Russian military campaign against the Chechen secessionists lasted from December 1994 until Yeltsin appointee Aleksandr Lebed and Chechen chief of staff Aslan Maskhadov negotiated an agreement to end the fighting in August 1996. The conflict over Chechnya's status is still unresolved. The Ingush have not yet developed such a strong national identity as the Chechens. They still tend to identify themselves on a sub-national (tribal or clan loyalties) or supra-national (Muslim faith) level. If the Chechens should succeed in their drive for independence, the Ingush might seek their own homeland as well. The Ingush have had some conflict with their neighbors to the west, the Ossetians. The root of the conflict is made up of the problems that followed when the Ingush returned from their exile from 1957 onwards, and found that Ossetians had occupied former Ingush land.

- 1995 An agreement between North Ossetia and Ingushetia was signed which concerned the return of the displaced persons. The victims of the Russian invasion in Chechenia were Ingush civilians trying to stop the invading tanks from crossing Ingush territory.

- 1997 An international conference in Nazran on the refugee issue was co-sponsored by UNPO.

Current situation:
A great number of Chechen and North Ossetian refugees poses a burden to the Republic of Ingushetia. The problem of hostages and missing persons has not been resolved since 1992. More than 50% of the working population is unemployed, which has been caused by the privatisation of state companies. The environmental situation in Ingushetia is deteriorating. Large amounts of poisonous wastes have been identified in the air.

Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO)
Norwegian Institute of International Affairs [NUPI] - Centre for Russian Studies
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