Staunton, February11 – A new book, The National Movement ofIngushetia, 1956-1973 (in Russian, Magas) by Ingush historian NurdinKodzoyev, shifts Ingushetia out of the shadow of its fellow Vaynakh people, theChechens, and shows that in many ways, the Ingush were pioneers in the creationof an effective national movement in the last decades of Soviet power.
Releasedtwo weeks ago, it has generated a large number of video discussions (e.g., youtube.com/watch?v=gprssTf2GiY) and is now thesubject of a review by Ekho Kavkaza’s Timur Akiyev (ekhokavkaza.com/a/29761958.html).What follows is based on those two sources rather than on the book itself.
Kodzoyevwas urged to write this book by Serazhdin Sultygov, a member of the PopularAssembly of Ingushetia. According to Sultygov, the Ingush national movementpassed through three stages after the return from Central Asian exile.The first, from the mid-1950s to the early1960s, as dominated by efforts to get the Soviet authorities to allow otherIngush to return home and to restore the Chechen-Ingush ASSR Stalin haddisbanded.
Thesecond stage, in 1972-1973, involved demands by the Ingush for the return ofthe Prigorodny district which was illegally transferred to North Ossetia at thetime of their deportation. And the third, from 1988 to 1992 was when the Ingushrestored their statehood within the USSR and then the Russian Federation.
Allthese stages, Sultygov says, are reflected in the book.But the new publication devotes particularattention to the national meeting which took place in January 1973, an eventimportant “not only in the history of the Ingush people but in the history ofthe Soviet Union as a whole.” Under totalitarian conditions, people went into thestreets to demand their rights.
Despiteits historic significance, Kodzoyev, the author of the book says, “practicallynothing has been written about those events.” He thus took it upon himself togather all the documents he could and to interview as many survivors from thosetimes as he could find. His book and its illustrations are in large measure areflection of those efforts.
Thehistory of the 1972-1973 events says a great deal about the nature of theSoviet political system and also about the Ingush approach to promoting therights of that people. As the book shows, Akiyev says, “everything began withthe letter of a group of communists sent to the CPSU Central Committee in thespring of 1972.”
Theletter detailed the ways the party leadership in the Chechen-Ingush ASSR wereviolating the rights of the Ingush and both the letter and spirit of Leninistnationality policy.Moscow reacted bysending a commission which expelled some of the authors of the letter from theparty but did not go further.
Thataction failed to curb the enthusiasm of the Ingush for pushing their agenda. Theauthors then sent a second letter to the CPSU Central Committee which was ifanything far sharper than the first, denouncing the leadership of the NorthOssetian and Chechen-Ingush oblast party committees for their “anti-Ingushactivities.”
Further,the second letter called for the return to the Ingush of all their territories,the creation of an autonomous and separate Ingush Republic “not excluding thepossible variant of establishing and Ossetian-Ingush ASSR” rather than theexisting Chechen-Ingush one. This letter was hand delivered on a secondattempt, the book documents.
TheCPSU Central Committee told the authors of the letters that they did notrepresent the views of the Ingush people. To show them how wrong they were, theauthors assembled in Grozny hundreds of Ingush, despite concerted efforts bythe republic authorities to block the arrival of Ingush from outside the city.
Thedemonstrators remained in the city square for three days, but during thisperiod, there were no illegal actions by the demonstrators, “no anti-Sovietstatements.On the contrary, people heldportraits of Lenin and carried slogans praising the internationalist policy of thecommunist party,” a policy they said the republic officials were violating.
Finally,officials decided to disperse the crowds not by police action but by offeringbuses to take people home. Some left, but many did not – and they were subjectto the kind of repressive measures typical of Moscow’s approach todemonstrators and the non-Russian nations to this day.
Theappearance of this book deserves to be widely marked because it shows twoimportant things. On the one hand, the Ingush will work within the system topromote their goals as long as the system gives them an opportunity. And on theother, they are sufficiently committed to their national agenda that they willgo “extra-systemic” if the system forces them.