MINELRES: Caucasus Reporting Service No. 336: Ingushetia: Russians Urged to Return

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Tue Apr 25 18:14:42 2006


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WELCOME TO IWPR'S CAUCASUS REPORTING SERVICE, No. 336 Part Two, April
20, 2006

CAUCASUS NEWS UPDATE APRIL 20

MURDER CASE JUDGEMENT REVERBERATES AROUND CAUCASUS Armenia welcomes life
imprisonment for Azeri military officer who killed Armenian - but
Azerbaijan seeks appeal. By Marina Grigorian in Budapest and Yerevan and
Rauf Orujev in Baku

RUSSIA CUTS OFF GEORGIAN WATER AND WINE Tbilisi accuses Moscow of
deliberate campaign to undermine Georgian economy. By Sofo Bukia in
Tbilisi

INGUSHETIA: RUSSIANS URGED TO RETURN A community of Russians defies
threats and resettles in the North Caucasus. By Asya Bekova in Nazran 

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...........................


INGUSHETIA: RUSSIANS URGED TO RETURN 

A community of Russians defies threats and resettles in the North
Caucasus. 

By Asya Bekova in Nazran 

The impoverished North Caucasian republic of Ingushetia is stepping up
plans to persuade ethnic Russians to resettle or settle there, but a
spate of violent attacks is undermining the efforts. 

The Ingush authorities hope that an increase in the number of ethnic
Russians or other non-Ingush Russian speakers, many of them
well-educated professionals, will improve the socio-economic state of
the republic, one of the poorest in Russia. 

"The return and residence of Russians is an indicator of stability and
economic growth of Ingushetia," said government official Akhmed
Sultanov. 

The republic-wide programme "The Return and Settlement of the
Russian-Speaking Population, Formerly Resident in the Republic of
Ingushetia" for 2004-2010 has allocated 109 million roubles (around four
million US dollars) to provide homes and apartments and other economic
incentives for ethnic Russians. 

Natalya Bortko, a teacher, returned with her family to Ingushetia from
the city of Chelyabinsk. "I wanted to come home," she explained. "My
friends, classmates, acquaintances, traditions and customs are all
here." 

Following the Ingush-Ossetian conflict of 1992 and the conflict in
Chechnya that began in 1994, most Russians fled Chechnya and Ingushetia,
which were joined together as one republic in Soviet times. 

Of the more than one million inhabitants of Chechen-Ingushetia, the
majority of the ethnic Russians lived in the city of Grozny, once
comprising around half of its population. But in 1992 there were some
18.094 Russians living in Ingushetia - a comparatively large figure for
this mostly rural region. 

Many had already started to leave the North Caucasus in the Seventies
and Eighties due to the decline of the oil sector and lack of employment
opportunities. 

The Ingush government says that since 2004 around 1,000 have been
persuaded to return and that 17 apartments have been given out.
Currently more than 5,000 Russians live in Ingushetia - in a population
of almost half a
million - of whom 2,500 live in the Sunja region on the border with
Chechnya. The plan is that 30 apartments will be given out every year to
returning families.

Galina Gubina, a teacher, is a Russian native of the Ingush mountain
village of Galashki and now deputy head of the administration of Sunja
region. She is one of those actively persuading Russians to resettle in
the republic.

"Around another two thousand people have written saying they want to
return, but this is a young republic and it lacks the funds," she told
IWPR. "I hope that the centre will hear us and [President Vladimir]
Putin will allocate money for the returnees."

A more serious problem than lack of money however may be a series of
violent arson attacks and shooting incidents against Russian families
this year in which three people have died and three have been wounded. 

Ingush interior ministry official Zaudin Daurbekov told IWPR that on
April 11 policemen had killed two militant fighters who had killed two
Russians and attacked others.

Gubina said that the violence had not intimidated Russians living in the
republic.

"Of course the murder of people is a tragedy but everyone understands
that these are contract crimes and that is why people are not
protesting," she said. 

Marina Bugayeva, a 19-year-old student, said that her family had lived
in Ingushetia for 30 years. "The recent attacks are frightening and we
did think of leaving," she said. "But Ingushetia is my home and I find
what is
happening in the centre of Russia dreadful."

Not all the locals are happy with the programme. Mikail, a 44-year-old
Ingush refugee from North Ossetia, complains that by spending money on
resettling ethnic Russians, the local government has neglected its own
Ingush citizens who were displaced by the Ingush-Ossetian conflict of
1992. 

"The widespread advertising of a programme to return Russians really
annoys local people, thousands of whom don't have their own houses," he
said. "So it's not surprising that there are some 'interested parties'
in provoking attacks on Russians."

"Why bring them back to subject them to danger and put them in the way
of bullets?" wonders aloud Ruslan, a local journalist.

The resettlement programme has also thrown up cases of corruption. 

Earlier this month, a 50-year-old Russian woman named Varvara Serikova
was arrested and charged with extorting money from gullible citizens for
the use of her services in receiving interest-free credits as part of
the
programme.

Nonetheless, there is now a sufficiently large Russian community in
Ingushetia that the authorities are examining the state of Orthodox
places of worship. 

The Pokrovsky church, built 150 years ago, is very dilapidated and the
government is helping them build a new church in its courtyard, as well
as a new church in the town of Magas.

Asya Bekova is the pseudonym of a freelance journalist working in
Ingushetia.

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IWPR's Caucasus Reporting Service provides the international community
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Yerevan, Valery Dzutsev in Vladikavkaz and Timur Aliev in Nazran. 

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ISSN: 1477-7959 Copyright (c) 2006 The Institute for War & Peace
Reporting 

CAUCASUS REPORTING SERVICE No.
336

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