After a particularly tumultuous 2008, a new president seems to have eased the tension in the Caucasian republic of Ingushetia, the small homeland of the Ingush people, who are related to the Chechens. Being one of the poorest areas within the Russian Federation, Ingushetia is expecting President Dmitry Medvedev to keep recent promise of investing thousands of millions of rubles.
The name of Ingushetia, contrary to the wishes of its population, came up in media headlines too often in 2008, almost always in relation with the increasing violence the country underwent that year. Last October, for instance, the situation was so restless that some said the country was on the edge of a civil war. According to Reuters, Russian NGO Memorial estimates that hostilities left 171 dead, a figure that doubled that of 2007.
Probably, the journalist Magomed Yevloyev, director of the news website Ingushetiya.ru, has been the most distinguished victim. He was highly critical of Murat Zyazikov, the then president of Ingushetia. The on-line newspaper use to give account of reports against Zyazikov for several cases of violation of human rights and murder of political rivals. Yevloyev himself ended up being shot inside a car of the Ingush police and died afterwards as a result of the gunshot wounds.
Criticism of Zyazikov mounted because of his unorthodox methods as well as his inability to stop the rebellion of armed groups that threatened to destabilise Ingushetia. The Kremlin, then, changed its policy towards the republic and by October 2008 forced the President to resign and appointed an Ingush senior military official, Yunus-bek Yevkurov, to succeed him in office. Latest news from the Caucasus suggests that violence has diminished since Yevkurov seized power.
Russian President Medvedev was in Ingushetia on January 20th. During his official trip he promised a multimillion investment to help Ingush economy to pick up (the unemployment rate amounts to 57%, the highest in Russia). According to RFE/RL, the Russian leader announced an investment of 29,000 million rubles (663 million €) for "emergency measures" which include funding to improve coordination between police and army forces fighting insurgents and also incentives for socioeconomic development.
A recent history of suffering
Administered by Russia since XIX century, Ingushetia suffered the crimes of the Stalinist dictatorship. The Ingush people, accused of collaborating with the Nazis in the Second World War, were massively deported to Central Asia. It was not until 1957 that Ingush people were allowed to return to their native land. Prigorodny region, once a district of Ingushetia, was transferred to Ossetia due to the arbitrariness of the Soviet rule. This has been a matter of concern since Ingushes and Ossetians went to war for the district in 1992.