ST. PETERSBURG, Russia -- An activist with Russian human rights group Vesna (Spring), Valentin Khoroshenin, has been detained over a demonstration of support for Ingushetia residents in their tug-of-war with Chechnya regarding the delimitation of the border between the two Russian republics in the North Caucasus.
Khoroshenin told OVD-Info, an independent group that monitors crackdowns on demonstrations, that police detained him early in the morning on November 28.
On November 26, Khoroshenin and fellow-activists unfurled a large banner saying "Belongs to Ingushetia" and waved Ingushetia’s national flag on a bridge in St. Petersburg named after Akhmad Kadyrov, the late former president of Chechnya and the father of its current Kremlin-backed leader, Ramzan Kadyrov.
The activists said the goal was to express support for the people of Ingushetia on the controversial deal, which mandated land swaps between Ingushetia and Chechnya.
The border agreement was signed behind closed doors on September 26 by Kadyrov and Ingushetia leader Yunus-Bek Yevkurov.
The deal sparked large, persistent protests in Ingushetia by opponents who say the deal unfairly hands parts of the region to Chechnya, its larger neighbor to the east.
Kadyrov has publicly threatened the protesters in Ingushetia, and there was tension on October 26 when he brought a large entourage into Ingushetia to confront a protest leader, but the meeting ended peacefully.
Ingushetia's Constitutional Court ruled on October 30 that the law drafted to support the controversial border agreement was illegal.
Russia's Constitutional Court began examining the issue on November 27.
But the chairman of Ingushetia’s Supreme Court, Ayub Gagiyev, refused to take part in the Russian Constitutional Court’s hearing, saying that the issue of borders between regions of Russia must be regulated by those regions, not the central authorities in Moscow.
Ingushetia and Chechnya were parts of a single administrative region in the Soviet era and split after the 1991 Soviet collapse.