On Thursday, the Constitutional Court of Russia ruled the border deal to be legal and not in violation of Russia’s laws. While the court pointed out that land swaps between Russia’s regions should be approved by the Federation Council, it was not needed in the case of the Chechen-Ingush deal, since the two regions have outlined their borders for the very first time.
The border issue between Chechnya and Ingushetia dates back to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Back then, the two republics were a united autonomous region. They split in 1991, yet a proper border between them was never actually drawn.
The deal, reached in late September by the heads of Chechnya and Ingushetia – Ramzan Kadyrov and Yunus-Bek Yevkurov – outlined the administrative border between the two regions. Apart from that, it encompassed an equal land swap of uninhabited forested territories between the two regions.
The agreement, however, sparked protests in Ingushetia, as the opponents of the republic’s president claimed that the region seceded “large parts” of its territory without getting anything in return. Some of the mass rallies got quite tense, when law enforcement had to fire warning shots into the air to disperse protesters.
The Constitutional Court of Ingushetia sided with the opposition to Yevkurov, ruling that the Ingush Parliament overstepped its authority in ratifying the agreement, which should be a matter of a republic-wide referendum. The ruling of the local judiciary prompted Yevkurov to seek the opinion of the highest Russia’s Court.
The new ruling was hailed by the leaders of the two republics, who praised the judges for upholding the border deal. “I did not doubt the legality of this decision. I’m glad that I’ve reached Russia’s Constitutional Court, and the whole issue is settled,” Yevkurov said. Leader of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, in his turn, expressed his gratitude to the judges, who “made a fair ruling.”
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