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Amnesty International Fears Possible Crackdown As Thousands Protest Ingushetia-Chechnya Border Deal


Gunfire And Protests After Chechnya-Ingushetia Deal
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WATCH: Gunfire And Protests After Chechnya-Ingushetia Deal

Amnesty International says it feared a possible police crackdown as thousands of people continued to demonstrate in Russia's North Caucasus region of Ingushetia to protest a controversial border deal with neighboring Chechnya.

Several thousand demonstrators rallied on October 5 for a second day in a square in the regional capital, Magas.

It came a day after demonstrators rallied in front of the parliament building in the regional capital, Magas, where lawmakers had gathered to vote on the border delimitation deal reached by the Ingush and Chechen leaders last week.

Local media reports said thousands of protesters remained in the square overnight.

Hundreds of police and security forces have been present but have not intervened against the demonstrators.

Thousands Protest Ingushetia-Chechnya Deal
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In a statement on October 5, the London-based human rights watchdog said it had observed ongoing protests in Magas and called on authorities to uphold the right to peaceful assembly and refrain from excessive force in Ingushetia.

"So far protests have been peaceful and law enforcement have conducted themselves professionally," said Amnesty International’s Russian Researcher Oleg Kozlovsky, though he added that the "situation is delicately balanced."

"If some protesters use violence, they must respond in a proportionate manner," Kozlovsky added. "The reckless rhetoric by some leaders in the lead-up to the border deal, and the total lack of transparency around the agreement, have raised tension and made the possibility of violence more likely."

The Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov recently threatened the protesters in Ingushetia by saying that the demonstrators "will be held accountable."

On September 26, police detained several protesters during a similar rally on the outskirts of Magas against what critics say is the unfair handover of parts of Ingushetia to neighboring Chechnya.

The two regions used to be parts of the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. They split in 1992, following the Soviet Union's collapse the previous year.

Chechnya is the site of two devastating post-Soviet separatist wars from 1994 to 2001 and the epicenter of an Islamist insurgency that spread across much of the North Caucasus, igniting violence in Ingushetia and other mostly Muslim republics in the region.

With reporting by Caucasus Knot and Kommersant
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