PRAGUE, 11 JUNE, CAUCASUS TIMES. On 25 May – 10 June information and analytical Agency Caucasus Times held public opinion poll among Ingush refugees in the North Ossetia and among the local Ossetian population of this republic. Major goal of the poll was to elucidate their attitudes towards the ongoing process of return of Ingush refugees to Prigorodny region of the North Ossetia.
Public opinion poll was held in settlements of Chermen and Dachnaya in Prigorodny region of the North Ossetia as well as in the village of Karca in Vladikavkaz district. In total, 400 persons of different ages and occupations (including 200 Ossetians and 200 Ingushs) have been polled.
Results of the poll indicate that relations between Ingushs and Ossetians continue to be marked by significant conflict potential. Ossetians and Ingushs are still divided in their assesments of the Ossetian-Ingush conflict and express different opinions concerning the possible ways of solving this problem.
Responding to a question about main sources of their income, 38% of polled Ingush refugees indicated different work, 42% – financial support of their relatives and friends and 20% – humanitarian aid. However, economic dependence of the majority of those polled on material support provided by the relatives or by humanitarian institutions did not make them uncertain about their decision to return to the North Ossetia. Thus, 54% of those polled Ingush refugees said that they “don’t regret” about their return to North Ossetia while only 17% expressed their regret on that issue. In the meantime, quite significant number of respondents (29%) reported difficulties in responding to that question.
Respondents’ answers to a question on whether would you move to another Russia’s region or CIS country in case if you have such a possibility testify to a large-scale dissappointment of Ingush refugees by their status in the North Ossetia. 21% of those polled Ingushs reported their readiness to use such an opportunity. 34% of respondents said that they “would rather use such an opportunity”. Only 12% rejected using such a possibility while 19% said that they “would not rather use this possibility”. In general, 55% are to some extent inclined to change place of their residence by leaving the North Ossetia while 31% are sceptical about that perspective. 14% of those polled found it difficult to provide answer to that question.
Ingush refugees proved to be rather unanimous in their reactions to a question on possible methods of solving the Ossetian-Ingush conflict. Similarly, Ossetian respondents also demonstrated high-level unanimity responding to this question, but their views were directly opposite to those expressed by Ingush respondents. Thus, 68% of Ingush refugees believe that complete return of all Ingush refugees to the North Ossetia would be the best solution of Ossetian-Ingush conflict. 15% think that territorial rehabilitation of Ingushs and return of the territory of Prigorodny region to Ingushetia would be the best solution of the problem. 13% reported difficulties in answering this question.
In their responses to the same question, Ossetian population demonstrated directly opposite standpoint. 43% of Ossetians think that the best way to solve the ongoing conflict is to stop returning of Ingush refugees to the North Ossetia. 44% of Ossetians consider it necessary to stop discussing the issue of territorial status of Prigorodny region and to tighten position of the federal authorities on that issue. In the meantime, 12% believe that preserving the status quo is the best way of solving the problem. It is worth to mention that nobody of the polled Ossetians spoke in favor of return of Ingush refugees as a method to solve the conflict.
Both Ossetians and Ingushs gave rather negative assessment of the actions taken by the North Ossetian authorities in order to solve the ongoing conflict. 32% of polled Ingush refugees evaluated actions of the authorities negatively and 24% – “rather negatively”. At the same time, only 8% were positive and 17% – “rather positive” about the republican authorities. 19% reported difficulties in answering this question. In total, 56% of Ingush refugees tend to assess the North Ossetian authorities negatively while only 25% consider their actions positively or rather positively. Among Ossetians, only 17% of respondents rated the actions of their republic’s leadership in the positive range and 6% gave to their leadership “rather positive” evaluation. Most of the polled Ossetians (49%) assessed the republican authorities negatively and 12% – “rather negatively”. 16% found it difficult to respond to this question. General number of Ossetians who are not satisfied with their leadership equals to 61% , which is substantially higher than percentage of those who tend to consider actions of the authorities positively (only 23%).
Reasons for such unfavorable attitudes of the majority of the polled Ossetians to the policy of their leadership can stem from the fact that Ossetian population in general is quite unhappy about the return of the Ingush refugees to the North Ossetia. Thus, assessing the return of the Ingushs to the territory of the North Ossetia, 49% of polled Ossetians expressed their negative attitudes and 38% – “rather negative” attitudes towards that process. Nobody of Ossetian respondents was positive about the return of Ingush refugees. Only 10% expressed “rather positive” attitudes towards that process. 3% of those polled reported difficulties responding to that question.
Negative attitudes of Ossetian population towards the return of the Ingush refugees can also be caused by the fact that financial situation of the Ingush refugees, who are getting direct financial support from the Regional Office of the Russian Migration Service, is mush better than the situation of the Ossetian refugees from the South Ossetia who had to leave Georgia and seek asylum in the North Ossetia. This plays a role of an additional irritating factor for the local Ossetians, who tend to accuse the local authorities of “betrayal of their interests”.
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Conflict between Ossetians and Ingushs goes back to 1944 when after the deportation of the Chechens and Ingushs territory of Prigorodny region was given to neighboring North Ossetia. Since Ingushs’ requests to get territory of Prigorodny region back in early 1990-ties was ingored by both federal center and North Ossetian authorities, in the fall 1992 large group of Ingush radicals invaded Prigorodny region of the North Ossetia trying to impose Ingush control over this territory. Large-scale armed clashed between Ingushs and Ossetians resulted in mass killings when around several hundreds people were killed. In addition, around 30 thousand Ingushs had to leave Prigorodny region and seek for shelter in the neighboring Ingushetia.
Process of return of Ingush refugees to Prigorodny region initiated by Presidential Representative in the South Federal District Dmitry Kosack is going on extremely slowly. Tragic events in the fall 1992 continue to complicate relations between Ingushetia and the North Ossetia and issue of Prigorodny region is still the main stumbling block in the relationship between the two neighboring North Caucasus republics.