Ingush report

A new fellow blogger has joined the most popular Russian blog network ЖЖ. The new blogger is none but the Ingush General Yunus-bek Yevkurov, Hero of the Russian Federation who was appointed by Russian President Medvedev as President of Ingushetia on 30 October 2008.

The new blogger wrote his first post on 21 August: “Hello Russia, our common home! I decided to publish my first post on the occasion of the Youth Forum «Mashuk-2010». I look forward to the future communication with great hopes. Buddies, from now on we are online!” The event was popularized by Andrei Zharikov in a photo report.

The fact that no new post has been published since then was explained by the President’s press chief Kaloy Akhilgov, an arduous blogger himself, with the president’s firm decision to write his own blog personally in contrast to many politicians who have it written with hired bloggers, while having just as few time for it as the other politicians. Nevertheless, the new blogger felt that the bonds of blog fellowship entitle him to invite for a collegial visit to Ingushetia the cream of the bloggers of Moscow. Here below we present this little known Caucasian autonomous republic through their reports and photos, borrowed mainly from Sergei Muhamedov (ottenki-serogo), Aleksandr Belenkovo (macos) and the already known Ilya Varlamov (zyalt). You are encouraged to enlarge each picture.

The bloggers were taken from the airport of Magas, the capital of Ingushetia to the city center with the car convoy of the President.

Ingushetia broke away from the Chechen-Ingush Republic in 1992. This is how the Russian government wanted to isolate the more pacific part of the republic from the Chechens, at that time in war against the Russians. Nevertheless, Islamism has its followers in Ingushetia as well who hide in the mountains and from time to time carry out terror attacks against the Russian army and the civilian population supporting them. In last June they almost managed to kill the President who earlier served in the Chechen war as well as in Bosnia.

View from the study of the President on the newly rebuilt capital and the President’s fleet

After the interview with the President which took several hours, the bloggers were entertained by local families giving a show of the fascinating Caucasian hospitality.

In the early morning the President’s convoy set out up to the Ingush mountains.

The most characteristic buildings of the region are the so-called “Nakh towers”. The Nakh linguistic group, including beside the Ingushes and the Chechens also the Bat shepherd tribes living in Georgia, is one of the most ancient people in the Caucasus. Archaeological finds demonstrate their continuous existence in these valleys for more than ten thousand years. Their twenty and thirty meters high dwelling towers also look back on a long tradition, but the most beautiful ones were built in the 15th and 16th centuries, like this one at Aul Erzi.

In memory of the Olimpiad of Moscow in 1980…

The birthplace of Gapur Arhiev, an Ingush revolutionary in 1917 and a General of the Red Army in the Russian civil war of 1918-20 is a museum today. A couple with two children lives in the house now. Mohamed is the keeper of the memorial house, and his wife is the tourist guide.

Hamzat is collecting the walnuts growing wild around the auls.

During WWII the Ingush and Chechen people, following the tradition of several centuries of wars of independence, rose up against the Soviet power. This is why after the war Stalin deported both nations to Kazakstan, and settled Russians on their place. The survivors of the cruel deportation were permitted to return to their native land only by Khrushchev in the late 1950s. However, in the meantime a part of Ingushetia, including their former capital Vladikavkaz, and even the town of Ongush (in Russian Tarskoye) which had given name to the whole republic, were annexed by the Soviet authorities following the old policy of divide to the western neighbor, Northern Ossetia: this is the egg-shaped hole on the map of the republic. The various territorial disputes connected with this prevent us to give a precise estimation of the territory of Ingushetia which varies between 2600 and 3800 m2 in the different sources.

The continuous tension between the two people broke out in the autumn of 1992 in a bloody war. Several Ingushes were killed on the disputed territory and more than 60 thousand fled to Ingushetia. At the same time the first Chechen war was going on at the Eastern neighbor, from where almost two hundred thousand Ingushes fled to the more pacific Western republic. There was a period when the number of the refugees in Ingushetia was higher than that of the population. Hanzat and his family also belong to the refugees.

The present Ingush-Ossetian frontier within one and the same country, Russia

Near to the frontier, the bloggers were hosted with traditional cooked lamb.

Before leaving, they were also invited to a traditional Ingush wedding.

Kinship is very large in Ingushetia, and thus from spring to autumn the Ingushes go to a wedding almost each Sunday. A wedding can be only organized at home, and to hold it in a restaurant would be a shame – the most frightful word for an Ingush. A guest is expected to give around 1000 rubels (~ 25 euros) as a wedding present, while the close relatives some 5000 rubels which is almost one month’s salary.

Men and women feast separately. During the time of the wedding the bride must stand in the corner and praying.

A peculiar Ingush custom is that after the wedding the husband must not meet his father-in-law and mother-in-law any more. Even when he sees them coming on the street, he must hide before them. It is possible that they prevent a large number of conflicts by this way… The mother of the husband, however, makes every effort to be very kind to her new daughter-in-law. This is partly motivated by some kind of mutuality. As every mother knows that she can have no effect on how her daughters are treated in their new families, she tries to demonstrate how well she treats the girl who came to the family.

In the early morning after the wedding the bloggers were transported by the President’s convoy to the Chechen border. From here they continue their way to Chechnia by bus. We hope that they will inform us about their impressions of there as well.