Ingushetia, or "Galgaachia" in the native tongue, is the smallest constituent republic of the Russian Federation, located in the northern Caucasus. The Ingush people are closely related to the Chechens and speak a similar language, belonging to the Caucasian family of languages.
Ingushetia has been part of Russia since 1810. From 1921 to 1924 it was part of the Soviet Mountain Republic established in the Caucasus. The Ingush Autonomous Oblast was established in 1924. From 1934 to 1992 it was joined to neighboring Chechnya in the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, except for a brief period following World War II (see below). Chechnya unilaterally declared its independence from Russia in 1992.
During World War II, Joseph Stalin accused the Ingush of collaborating with the Nazis and deported the entire population to Central Asia. Their autonomous territory was dissolved, and the Prigorodni District was transferred to adjacent North Ossetia. While the Ingush were rehabilitated in the 1950s and allowed to return to their homes, Prigorodni remained part of North Ossetia, and the returning Ingush faced considerable animosity from the Ossetian population that has since settled there. Tensions exploded after the disintegration of the Soviet Union; the northern Caucausus was the site of the first severe interethnic violence to plague the Russian Federation. In late October 1992, tens of thousands of Ingush were forced from their homes in the Prigorodni District of North Ossetia. This refugee problem has since been a major problem for the beleaguered government of Ingushetia, already faced with soaring unemployment (as high as 50 percent), a worsening ecological crisis, a high concentration of Russian troops stationed there because of the war in neighboring Chechnya, and a flood of Chechen refugees from that conflict. While some agreements have been reached with North Ossetia concerning the Ingush refugees, the issue is far from being resolved.