Land disputes in the North Caucasus

Land disputes in the North Caucasus

The conflict about the territorial demarcation of Chechnya and Ingushetia attracted the attention of many experts. Dmitry Zhuravlyov, director of the Institute of Regional Problems, commented on the situation for VK: “The Caucasus is an ancient region and the peoples there have moved repeatedly from one region to another, borders were changed. The approach based on the principle "that was ours" - on the one hand, it is true, it really was so, this region existed, that region existed. On the other hand, one can say that "this piece of land was ours." The main thing is to find the time framework, it depends on the time framework you are looking at. If you take the eighteenth century - you have one set of borders, if you take the twentieth century - another. Chechnya and Ingushetia were subject to repressions, and boundaries disappeared completely.”

Zhuravlyov warns about moving these border disputes from policy into practice: “Now one president said, the other president said - this is already a problem, but this is just the beginning. As soon as, like once in the Prigorodny region, people get involved, that is, someone starts to put pressure on someone, it will be irreversible. Even if the problem is then resolved, and it will be resolved in one way or another, the memory will remain.” He recalled that the Chechen and Ingush peoples have generally lived peacefully together for many years; at the time of conflict, the Ingush entirely supported the Chechens. Now this friendship is undergoing a terrible ordeal. “Because in the future people might not remember how it was 200 years ago. They will remember who tried to take what from whom yesterday and will remember it for more than a hundred years. Now you can ask the elderly in the Caucasus where the Russian troops in the XIX century were, and they will show you the position - they do not remember it, but they were told by their grandfathers. This case will be similar. It is like a cancer. It is a disease that will last for a long time, and that will be very difficult to treat.”

From Zhuravlyov’s point of view, “in the Caucasus, in the first place, as elsewhere, it is necessary to introduce a moratorium on territorial redistribution. Armenia and Azerbaijan still cannot solve a problem, which in general is not a problem. And in this case, there is a common war against everyone, because tomorrow it will appear that the Karachai have their own understanding about their borders, the next day - the Balkars, especially since there are a lot of objective questions about what should belong to whom. The Caucasus can catch fire without any politics, without any external force. So I think that conflict should be reduced to zero, and with a certain reconciliation procedure, as soon as possible, before the people get involved.”

The presidential envoy in the North Caucasus Federal District, Alexander Khloponin, also warns about the threat of public discussion of the land dispute. “I’m asking for a break. I ask to stop insulting each other in public, don’t do it… At first, working groups should be established. Please sit and talk, discuss everything. Think about the documents which you want to be the basis. Stop arguing about this. Two brotherly peoples have always lived together… This topic is exaggerated by social organizations from time to time. They come from nowhere and are financed by unknown sources… The land issue is the most difficult problem in the North Caucasus. Any tiny wrong step can lead to an inter-ethnic conflict.”