The East Prigorodny conflict refers to the inter-ethnic conflict in the Eastern part of the Prigorodny district, part of Russian federal subject of Republic of North Ossetia-Alania, which started in 1989 and developed into a brief ethnic war in 1992 between local Ingush and Ossetian paramilitary units.
According to Helsinki Human Rights Watch, a campaign of ethnic cleansing was orchestrated by Ossetian militants during the events of October and November 1992, resulting in the death of more than 600 Ingush civilians and expulsion of approximately 60,000 Ingush inhabitants from Prigorodny district.
Origins of the conflict
During the Russian conquest of the Caucasus, part of the Ingush territory was colonized by Ossetians and Russians. Russian General Evdokimov and Ossetian colonel Kundukhov in Opis No. 436 "gladly reported", that the result of colonization of Ingush land was successful:
The Ingush village Ghazhien-Yurt was renamed Stanitsa Assinovskaya in 1847,
The Ingush village Ebarg-Yurt was renamed Stanitsa Troitskaya in 1847,
The Ingush town Dibir-Ghala was renamed Stanitsa Sleptsovskaya in 1847,
The Ingush village Magomet-Khite was renamed Stanitsa Voznesenskaya in 1847,
The Ingush village Akhi-Yurt was renamed Stanitsa Sunzhenskaya in 1859,
The Ingush village Ongusht was renamed Stanitsa Tarskaya in 1859,
The Ingush town Ildir-Ghala was renamed Stanitsa Karabulakskaya in 1859,
The Ingush village Alkhaste was renamed Stanitsa Feldmarshalskaya in 1860,
The Ingush village Tauzen-Yurt was renamed Stanitsa Vorontsov-Dashkov in 1861,
The Ingush village Sholkhi was renamed Khutor Tarski in 1867.
The Russians also built the fortress Vladikavkaz (meaning: "Ruler of the Caucasus") on the former location of the Ingush village of Zaur. In 1924 the Ingush Autonomous Oblast was created.
It included the part of Prigorodny district and part of Vladikavkaz, populated mainly by ethnic Ingush. In 1934, by the Soviet decree from Moscow, the Ingush Autonomous Republic was merged with Chechen Autonomous Oblast, allocating the Vladikavkaz territories of the Ingush to the newly created North Ossetia, leaving the Prigorodny district under the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Republic. In 1944, near the end of World War II, the Ingush and the Chechens were accused of collaborating with the Nazis, and by order of Stalin, hundreds of thousands of Ingush and Chechens were deported to Central Asia and Siberia due to their alleged collaboration with Nazi Germany. Soon after, the depopulated Prigorodny district was transferred to North Ossetia.
In 1957, the repressed Ingush and Chechens were allowed to return to their native land and the Chechen-Ingush Republic was restored, with the Prigorodny district kept under the control of North Ossetia. Soviet authorities attempted to prevent Ingush from returning to their territory in Prigorodny district; however, Ingush families managed to move in, purchase houses back from the Ossetians and resettled the district in greater numbers. This gave rise to the idea of "restoring historical justice" and "returning native lands", among the Ingush population and intelligentsia, which contributed to the already existing tensions between ethnic Ossetians and Ingush. Between 1973 and 1980 the Ingush voiced their demands for the reunification of the Prigorodny district with Ingushetia by staging various protests and meetings in Grozny.
The situation deteriorated in early 1991, when the Ingush openly declared their rights to the Prigorodny district according to the Soviet law adopted by the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on April 26, 1991; in particular, the third and the sixth article on "territorial rehabilitation." The law gave the Ingush legal grounds for their demands, which caused serious turbulence in a region in which many people had free access to weapons, resulting in an armed conflict between ethnic Ingush population of the Prigorodny district and Ossetian armed militias from Vladikavkaz.
During the summer and early autumn of 1992, there was a steady increase in the militancy of Ingush nationalists. At the same time, there was a steady increase in incidents of organized harassment, kidnapping and rape against Ingush inhabitants of North Ossetia by their Ossetian neighbours, police, security forces and militia. Ingush fighters marched to take control over Prigorodny district and on the night of October 30, 1992, open warfare broke out, which lasted until November 6. While Ingush militias were fighting the Ossetians in the district and on the outskirts of the North Ossetian capital Vladikavkaz, Ingush from elsewhere in North Ossetia were forcibly evicted and expelled from their homes. Russian interior forces actively participated in the fighting and sometimes led Ossetian fighters into battle.
On October 31, 1992, a high-level Russian delegation arrived to stop the violence; however, the first deployment of Russian peacekeepers did not begin until early November. Although Russian troops often intervened to prevent some acts of violence by Ossetian police and republican guards, the stance of the Russian peacekeeping forces was strongly pro-Ossetian, not only objectively as a result of its deployment, but subjectively as well. President Boris Yeltsin issued a decree that the Prigorodny district was to remain part of North Ossetia on November 2.
The hostilities and reprisals in North Ossetia produced approximately 590 deaths, 1,000 injured and 1,200 hostages among Ingush civilians as well as 65,000 Ingush and 9,000 Ossetian refugees. 52 Ossetians were killed during the conflict.
Allegations of ethnic cleansing
According to Helsinki Human Rights Watch, war crimes and ethnic cleansing were committed by Ossetian police and republican guards against Ingush civilians. Human Rights Watch collected numerous video and photo materials showing extreme brutality carried out by Ossetian police and republican guards against Ingush inhabitants of the district. Helsinki Watch published its report on human rights violations and war crimes, with detailed description of massacres of the Ingush civilians during the events of October and November, in April 1996.
The pressure from Moscow and the Russian-mediated Ossetian-Ingush agreement of 1995 induced the North Ossetian authorities to allow Ingush refugees from four settlements in the Prigorodny district to return to their homes. The return of most refugees had been blocked by the local government and only the Ossetians had been able to return since. Meanwhile, the former Ingush homes and settlements in the district have been gradually occupied by the Ossetian refugees from Georgia.
On October 11, 2002, the presidents of Ingushetia and North Ossetia signed the agreement for "promoting cooperation and neighbourly relations" between the republics, in which Ingush refugees and human rights advocates invested much hope. However, the Beslan hostage crisis of 2004 hampered the return process and worsened Ossetian-Ingush relations.
- Russia: The Ingush-Ossetian Conflict in the Prigorodnyi Region (Paperback) by Human Rights Watch Helsinki Human Rights Watch (April 1996) ISBN 1564321657
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- A. Dzadziev. The Ingush-Ossetian conflict: The Roots and the Present Day // Journal of Social and Political Studies. 2003, _ 6 (24)
- The Ossetian-Ingush Conflict: Perspectives of Getting out of Deadlock Moscow. Russian Independent Institute of Social and National Problems, Professional Sociological Assiciation. ROSSPEN. 1998. p.30
- Quoted in Zdravomyslov. The Ossetian-Ingush Conflict: Perspectives of Getting out of Deadlock Moscow. Russian Independent Institute of Social and National Problems, Professional Sociological Association. ROSSPEN. 1998. p.102
- Getting back home? Towards sustainable return of Ingush forced migrants and lasting peace in Prigorodny district of North Ossetia