Ingush leader says his controversial border agreement with Chechnya was signed ‘spontaneously’

Ingush leader Yunus-bek Yevkurov is trying to explain why he signed an unpopular border agreement with Chechnya last month. In comments to the magazine RBC, Yevkurov said the motivation to revisit the Ingush-Chechen boundary was “spontaneously” prompted by public backlash to excavation work in the Ingush village of Arshty by the Chechen road-work company “Chechenavtodor.” When the Chechen bulldozer appeared on Ingush territory, Yevkurov says, locals became alarmed that Chechen officials were trying to seize their land.

Despite the “spontaneous” origins of the border agreement, Yevkurov insists that he spent a month drafting it, before meeting with Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. Yevkurov also says he discussed the plan roughly five times with members in the Ingush parliament and local government.

Since Yevkurov signed the border deal with Chechnya (amid resistance from the republic’s parliament and Constitutional Court), thousands of locals have protested in Magas. State officials have agreed to permit the demonstrations until October 15.