Ahmet Palankoev: "The Europeans have managed to make a brand of their historical heritage. We need to work on it"
The guest of the Tribune program, a senator from Ingushetia, a member of the Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs, Ahmed Palankoev tells about the development of tourism in Inigushetia
– Ingushetia is the smallest region of the Russian Federation, except for cities of federal statuses. Is it an advantage, or disadvantage for a tourist?
– The potential of tourism depends not on the size of the area, but quality, as well as how nature and monuments are interesting for tourists and how well conditions of the republic are. Ingushetia is one of the most interesting republics with great potential for tourism development. Mountain Ingushetia has a lot of historical monuments. They are located across the mountainous territory of the region. Nature is beautiful both in summer, and winter. The Armkhi resort available for snowboarding, skiing and more extreme kinds of sport. We spent several all-Russian competition in Armkhi on giant slalom among professionals of Paralympic competitions.
All-Union leader Mikhail Kalinin’s country cottage (a member of the politbureau) was here during the Soviet times. Then a medical health resort was but here for those who suffered from broncho-pulmonary diseases such as asthma, tuberculosis, allergies. Pollen of pine trees has a revitalizing effect has healing. Hiking and horse riding tourism were well-developed here in Soviet times.
– Country cottages of politbureau were built in reliable places. But are infrastructure and the hotel complex new buildings?
– The Kalinin’s cottage was built of wood, which didn’t preserve its original appearance. A hotel with 42 rooms was built at this place, and another hotel with 22 rooms was built nearby. Sports infrastructure and outdoor swimming pools were built at the resort. Everything was built according to the Olympic standards in order to national team of Russia could train there. The middle altitude is the most effective place for training. The Krasnodar swimming team trained there last year. They intend to come back here this year. They can engage in other summer kinds of sport. There are for mountain biking (we host nation-wide competitions), as well as a playground for such games as paintball, a restaurant and a sauna.
– It is difficult to get to Armkhi?
– It is very easy. It takes two hours to get there from Moscow, or you can use a direct flight to Vladikavkaz, or to Magas. Our airport is one of the most beautiful airports in Russia: modern, beautiful, small and very cozy. It's nice to use it, there is no large gathering of people and immediately get in an atmosphere of calmness. It take an hour to get from the the airport to the mountainous part of Ingushetia by car. It is not far for a ski resort. The distance from Vladikavkaz and Magas is about the same. Excellent asphalt-paved road with curbs, marking. It is a modern and high quality road, which was built last year. It takes a bit more than 20 hours get there with the help of a firm train to Nazran from Moscow. The only problem is that transport to the resort has not been adjusted yet. We will have to order a car, or take a taxi.
– Are there any security issues?
– Many people ask me the question, but it makes laugh those people who have already travelled there. Those who travelled to Ingushetia, want to return there to relax. Not a single serious crime was fixed over the past 25 years in the mountainous part of Ingushetia (even in difficult times, the Chechen war and wild outburst of terrorism). This is a borderland, all people who enter, or leave the country are under the control of the border guards. All issues of terrorism, extremism are solved in Ingushetia. Of course, some domestic happen like in Moscow, Nazran and New York.
People are not spoiled by civilization. They are responsive. The Caucasian hospitality is everywhere. A fried of mine decided to travel to Ingushetia when it was necessary to receive a permit in order to the mountainous part of the republic. While he was waiting for a permit he was invited by a taxi driver who fed, allowed to spend a night and then drove into the city without taking money. If a person gets into a difficult situation people will always help you.
The issue of security is solved. The next step is to spread this information in order to tourists knew about it.
– There is an ancient Christian temple Thaba-Yerdy and the Novo Sinai monastery on the territory of Ingushetia. Could you tell us more about them?
– In ancient times the Ingush were heathens. They trusted in one pagan god and stuck to rituals. There were preachers in the Middle Ages in Ingushetia who represented the Catholic Church. But the main one was the Orthodox Church. It is said that Thaba-Yerdy was the most ancient temple in Russia. The first part of the foundation, which waa built in the VIII-XI centuries, exists even today. It was built in several stages. Fonts and crosses and the altar are preserved very well there. Periodically, Christianity left these places, yielding to paganism, but then came back. Still, paganism is the religion of their fathers. It is in the folk wisdom and consciousness. During times of paganism and Islam, Thaba-Yerdy always remained a cult place. It was not destroyed, changed or rebuilt. It was not just the Orthodox Church. Elders met there to confer and make important decisions.
There was a small colosseum with 12 elders elected by all the people. Strategic and domestic issues were solved there.
There are a lot of places of worship and churches in Ingushetia. Everybody knows about castles, the tower architecture. It is an ancient culture of living.
Towers performed signalling, defensive and patrol functions. People lived around these towers in two or three-storey detached stone houses. I jokingly say that my ancestors lived in the Middle Ages in three-storey stone mansions.
The average height of the 30-meter towers is a ten-house building. No more than a year should pass from the beginning of the laying of the first stone of the foundation up to the last choke stone on the roof. If they didn’t meet the deadline, then they didn’t have the right to finish building the tower. It remained in an unfinished form. It was an eternal shame for the person who started building, but didn’t manage to finish it. From historical and religious viewpoints these places are of great interest for tourists.
– Medieval towers are preserved in such Italian cities as San Gimignano, but they are not so tall ...
– I have travelled to Europe a lot. I drove 200-300 km on the highway to see castles of the XVIII-XIX centuries. In Ingushetia, castle complexes which are 500-1000 years are very close. Towers were built in Ingushetia so that one could be seen from another. Therefore, there are more than 2200 such monuments in the mountainous part of Ingushetia. Legal boundaries have changed today, but Ingush architecture remains on other territories: Georgia, North Ossetia, Chechnya, but the center is Ingushetia. But Europeans must pay tribute to the fact that they managed to preserve and maintain the heritage they received and advertised all over the world, make a brand of it. We need to work on it.