78 years ago February 23, the deportation of Ingush and Chechens to the vast steppes of Kazakhstan and Central Asia began. Half a million people were forced out of their homes during Operation Lenta, conducted by the NKVD, NKGB, and SMERSH under the general leadership of Commissar of Internal Affairs L.P. Beria. The number of victims during the eviction period exceeded one-third of the entire population.
The Decree of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet of March 7, 1944 «On the liquidation of the Chechen-Ingush ASSR and the administrative structure of its territory» stated:
«In connection with the fact that during the Patriotic War, especially during the actions of the German forces in the Caucasus, many Chechens and Ingush betrayed their homeland, went over to the side of the Nazi occupiers, joined the groups of saboteurs and spies, thrown by the Germans into the rear of the Red Army, created at the behest of the Germans armed bands to fight against the Soviet regime… The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR decides: to relocate all Chechens and Ingush living on the territory of the Chechen-Ingush ASSR and adjoining regions to other regions of the USSR, and to liquidate the Chechen-Ingush ASSR».
Military historians believe that preparations for the Ingush and Chechen expulsion operation were underway long before February. The concentration of huge forces in the republic itself and in the neighboring regions (transport, railway cars, trucks, etc.) was achieved by introducing a large contingent of troops, mobilizing the ideological punitive bodies in order to psychologically and ideologically process the population and carry out large-scale actions of total disinformation of the people.
The officers declared to the highlanders that they were all traitors to the Motherland, and therefore, by decision of the Soviet government, were being deported to Siberia. It took only 15-20 minutes to pack. Everyone, including pregnant women, mothers with children, the elderly, and the sick was subjected to deportation without fail. The infirm were treated with monstrous cruelty: they were either shot on the spot or left alone to die.
People were driven into freight cars in inhumane conditions. A cold wind blew in through the cracks in the walls. The wagons were packed to capacity, and the doors were shut tight with a grinding noise. Under cover of night, 180 echelons of railroads moved eastward. The Ingush were erased from the list of the peoples of the USSR, and the authorities did everything in their power to erase the memory of them.
In 1957, the Communist Party of the USSR recognized the unlawfulness of accusing entire peoples of crimes committed by a group, and the Chechen-Ingush ASSR was restored. Chechens and Ingush were allowed to return to their historic homeland.
The 13 years of deportation have remained in the memory not only of the deportees themselves, but for their descendants it is also the most pressing issue today.
The consequence of Stalin’s repression was localized territorial conflicts in Ingushetia that have not been resolved to this day. In particular, we are now talking about the Prigorodny district and the border with the Chechen Republic.