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BORDER AMBIGUITY CAUSES INSTABILITY

RIA Novosti

MOSCOW, March 29 (RIA Novosti) - The opposition in Ingushetia in the North Caucasus attempted to demonstrate yesterday demanding the return to Ingushetia of the Prigorodny district, currently part of North Ossetia. The action failed, but the problem remains, making the area susceptible to ethnic conflict, the Russian daily Noviye Izvestiya reported.

The state structure reforms, specifically regional integrations reforms being carried out by the central authorities, are aggravating territorial disputes not only in the North Caucasus, but in Siberia, Kuban and other regions.

According to Merkator think tank director Dmitry Oreshkin, the question of administrative borders in Russia has always taken a back seat to other matters.

"If the State, acting through federal bodies such as Ministry of Interior Affairs, the Defense Ministry or the KGB, had to construct or remove something, they just did it," Oreshkin said.

Oreshkin explained that the current territorial disputes in Russia have been aggravated by the fact that land suddenly has value. Abandoned areas have unexpectedly been marked for housing and other construction activities. There is also a possibility for new conflicts because of disputed minefields.

Oreshkin expects the territorial disputes to expand soon. "This is a purely geographic problem - where a pipe lies or district ends," Oreshkin said. That is why the lack of high-grade, detailed maps is complicating the matter.

According to Oreshkin, nobody knows precisely where the borders between federal subjects run.

"The situation is currently not far from armed clashes," Oreshkin said. "We need to remember the dispute between Ingushetia and North Ossetia on the Prigorodny district. But the border disputes have not yet been settled between Ingushetia and Chechnya, Kalmykia and Dagestan and Kalmykia and the Astrakhan region.



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