A land swap in the Russian South Caucasus in causing tension, in a region that has historically caused problems for the Kremlin. Large numbers of Islamic fighters have made their way to Syria from the area, and many will return to the Russian Federation, or have already. The ‘land swap’ deal seems to be a power grab by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov who has historically caused problems for Moscow.
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Chechnya had laid claims to parts of eastern Ingushetia since the the former Chechen-Ingush Soviet republic split into two in the early 1990s. Despite a 2003 deal handing two villages to Chechnya, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov implied in later years that he wanted more ethnic Chechen settlements inside Ingushetia to join his republic.
On Wednesday, Kadyrov and Ingushetia’s Yunus-Bek Yevkurov signed a deal on the “equivalent exchange” of two unpopulated areas, Interfax reported. Kadyrov later told the agency that “both republics won” in the exchange, reported The Moscow Times.
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“The only adjustments we made were in the plains, where we yielded exactly a square for a square, a meter for a meter to each other,” Yevkurov was quoted as saying by the state-run TASS news agency.
Tass added, The agreement implies that a part of Chechnya’s Nadterechny District – a mountainous, wooded area – will be handed over to Ingushetia, which, in turn, will transfer an equally-sized piece of land adjacent to the Malgobeksky District to Chechnya.
Chechnya’s head Ramzan Kadyrov told reporters that the signing of the treaty on the administrative border between Chechnya and Ingushetia would enhance relations between the two regions.
“This agreement will strengthen our brotherhood,” he stressed.
According to Kadyrov, the administrative border issue was not an acute one.
“We have taken up the responsibility to start laying foundations so that there are no issues between Ingushetia and the Chechen Republic today. I think that the commission, which has been working on this, will complete its tasks in the near future and put everything in its place,” Kadyrov added.
The agreement securing the administrative border between Ingushetia and Chechnya was signed in Ingushetia’s capital of Magas on Wednesday.