The Russian Government has claimed that the Ingush authorities have signed off on the transfer of parts of the Erzi Nature Reserve to Chechnya as part of the 2018 land swap between the two republics — an allegation denied the very next day by Ingushetia’s vice-premier.
The Russian Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology, Alexander Kozlov, made the comments in a meeting with Ramzan Kadyrov, the Head of Chechnya, on 13 June. He said that part of the Erzi Nature Reserve was to be transferred to Chechnya for the construction of a 20-hectare national park called Daimokhk.
According to the minister, this issue was raised because of appeals and letters from the Chechen leadership to President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin. Putin’s presidential decree on the transfer must be submitted to the government before 1 May 2023.
Kozlov said that the heads of both neighbouring republics would determine the team expected to create an action plan to construct the new park. The deadline for the action plan is 15 July.
‘In Ingushetia, this was already done last week, we are waiting for your signature. The topics are very sharp and painful, but it was not documented in such a way as to move on to work’, said Kozlov to Kadyrov.
However, on 15 June, Ingushetia’s Deputy Premier Magomed Yevloyev refuted Kozlov’s claims, stating that the republic had not greenlit the transfer, despite the land being part of the 2018 Chechen-Ingush land swap.
[Read more: Russian court rules Chechen–Ingush land swap legal]
‘The lands referred to in the document called Daimokhk National Park are lands that were transferred under an agreement between the leadership of Ingushetia and Chechnya in 2018, but since these lands are located in a specially protected area in Erzi, our position is negative on this issue’, Yevloyev said.
Roughly one-third of the Erzi State Nature Reserve, located in eastern Ingushetia, was to be handed over to Chechnya as a result of the 2018 land swap. Ingushetia was expected to transfer 340 square kilometres (about 9% of its territory) to Chechnya.
The deal was hugely controversial in Ingushetia, leading to months of protests and a subsequent crackdown on civil activists in the republic.
Ingush news site Fortanga confirmed that the Ingush side had signed a roadmap document for the park’s creation, but it noted disagreement with the proposed decision. RFE/RL reported that the two republics were already in talks about the establishment of Daimokhk Park by the beginning of 2020.