Protesters clashed with security forces in Russia’s republic of Ingushetia early on Wednesday during a protest against a controversial land swap deal.
More than 10,000 protesters rallied in Ingushetia’s capital of Magas on Tuesday against legislation that would bar residents from voting on border-related issues. Protest leaders said the rally would continue “indefinitely” to demand the governor’s resignation and a public referendum on a deal that would see the republic cede territory to neighboring Chechnya. The agreement has led to months of protests in the republic.
Security forces tried three times to disperse protesters who stayed in Magas’ central square overnight past the rally’s authorized end time of 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, local media reported.
A video of the rally posted to social media showed the Wednesday morning clashes, with protesters waving sticks and throwing folding chairs and iron fences at the armored police surrounding them.
“They [security forces] tried to encircle the protesters, and as far as I understand, people sustained some injuries,” Magomed Mutsolgov, an Ingush human rights activist, was quoted as saying by the Mediazona news website.
“Because things like chairs started to be thrown, both into the crowd and from the crowd,” he added.
Following the clashes, local officials promised to authorize a new rally in five days and the demonstration dispersed, Mutsolgov said. About half of the protesters went home, while the other half continued to block part of a federal highway, the Znak news website reported.
Chechnya and Ingushetia signed the controversial border-swap agreement on Sept. 26, 2018. Some estimates have shown that Ingushetia, already Russia’s smallest region, gave up 26 times more territory than Chechnya in the deal.