Ingushetia profile - Overview
- 12 March 2015
- From the section Europe
The Republic of Ingushetia in the Russian North Caucasus borders on Georgia to the south.
Its neighbours within Russia are Chechnya and North Ossetia. The overwhelming majority of the population is Muslim and clan links are an integral part of society.
The Ingush and Chechen peoples have close historical, cultural and linguistic ties, although the Ingush have not shared in the fierceness of the resistance to Moscow put up by the Chechens over the past 200 years.
Part of the Russian empire since the early 19th century, Ingushetia was formally joined to Chechnya under Soviet rule in 1936 when it formed around one-fifth of the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Republic within Russia.
Like the Chechens, the Ingush, despite their history of relative loyalty to Moscow, were deported to Central Asia towards the end of World War II by Stalin who accused them of collaborating with the Nazis. They were allowed to return only in 1957 when Khrushchev was Soviet leader.
When Dzhokhar Dudayev came to power as Chechen leader in 1991 and declared Chechen sovereignty, the Ingush resisted. A brief conflict ensured, and the Ingush subsequently voted in a referendum to form a separate republic within the Russia Federation.
The Ingush and North Ossetians have a history of rivalry. Ingushetia lays claim to the neighbouring Prigorodny district which was included in the Russian Republic of North Ossetia when Stalin deported the Ingush in 1944. For many years after their return, the district had a substantial Ingush population.
In late 1992 violence erupted. The North Ossetians say it was sparked by Ingush radicals seeking to include Prigorodny in the newly formed Republic of Ingushetia. The Ingush assert that the North Ossetians attacked first and that they acted in self defence.
After hundreds were killed in the clashes, Moscow sent troops to establish order. The Ingush population was expelled from the district, causing a refugee crisis in Ingushetia.
Another refugee crisis presented itself when thousands of Chechens fled into Ingushetia when Russian troops returned to Chechnya in 1999.
In the years since, a radical Muslim insurgency has spread from Chechnya across the entire North Caucasus region, and militant attacks have become a frequent occurrence in Ingushetia.
In June 2004, several dozen people, including the acting Ingush interior minister, were killed in attacks reported to have involved hundreds of gunmen. The incident, and subsequent clashes, prompted the Kremlin to order a change of leadership in a bid to reduce the level of violence.
However, there was a renewed spate of attacks in 2009, including a suicide bombing at a police station that killed at least 25 people - the deadliest attack in the republic since 2005 - and an attempt on the life of President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov.
Moscow reacted by announcing another overhaul of security in the republic, and in June the following year, security forces announced the arrest of a leading militant linked to the assassination attempt, and several other attacks.
In October 2010, Mr Yevkurov said militants had killed more than 400 members of the security forces and wounded more than 3,000 civilians in the past five years.