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Russian State News Agency Underestimates Protest in Ingushetia

INGUSHETIA -- People gather to protest against what they say was an unfair land swap deal with the neighboring Russian region of Chechnya, in the capital Magas, October 5, 2018
RIA Novosti, October 5, 2018

RIA Novosti, October 5, 2018

Russian state-owned news outlet

“Several dozen people gathered on Friday in the center of the capital of Ingushetia, Magas; the situation in the city is calm, RIA Novosti’s correspondent reports.”

Photos show a much larger protest.

On October 5, the Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti reported that “several dozen” people gathered in the center of Magas, the capital of Ingushetia (a federal subject within Russia). The article described the situation in the city as “calm,” and reported that there was no sign of disorder.

While a photo taken by a Russian correspondent in the city on Friday suggests things have been orderly there thus far, the number of protesters is much higher. His photo shows what appears to be hundreds of people, filling a street. A video posted on Instagram, also on Friday, shows what is alleged to be the Republic of Ingushetia’s leader, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, and his entourage fighting their way through a large mass of demonstrators. RFE/RL reported that thousands were in attendance. The BBC estimates 2,500 were present on Thursday.

The number of people in his photo is consistent with photos and videos from the previous day’s protest, which also showed at least several hundred people in the center of the city. In addition, footage from Thursday broadcast by the BBC also shows riot police clashing with demonstrators.At one point, what sounds like gunfire can be heard. The BBC reported that Yevkurov’s bodyguards fired into the air after someone threw a plastic bottle at him when he tried to address the crowd.

The RIA Novosti story does not mention anything about gunfire or clashes with riot police.

Protests in Ingushetia broke out in response to an agreement to change the border between the republic and the neighboring Republic of Chechnya. The agreement was signed by Yevkurov and his Chechen counterpart Ramzan Kadyrov on September 26, and approved by the parliaments of their respective republics on Thursday, October 4.