Within the framework of the Soviet Union, the Prigorodny District was initially part of the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. After the Ingush and Chechen populations were forcibly deported to central Asia and the Chechen-Ingush Republic was disbanded on the orders of Stalin in 1944, Prigorodny was absorbed into the neighbouring North Ossetian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. When the deported populations returned to their homelands and the Chechen-Ingush Republic was re-established in 1957, the area had been settled by Ossetians and Russians and Prigorodny remained as part of North Ossetia rather than returning to the Chechen-Ingush Republic.1 As the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria was established on the territory of the Chechen-Ingush Republic, the Ingush chose to join the newly created Russian Federation. In the midst of this period of uncertainty, the fate of Prigorodny and its population became a major point of contention for political leaders in the region. For the Ingush, particularly those who had struggled to re-establish themselves in Prigorodny despite the protests of the Ossetian and Russian settlers, the territory should have been ‘returned’ to the newly established Russian Federal Republic of Ingushetia. For Ossetians, Prigorodny had been part of their home since 1944. It was in this context that fighting erupted in East Prigorodny on 31 October 1992, sparking the first armed conflict on Russian territory since the collapse of the Soviet Union. With support from some Russian security forces, North Ossetian security personnel and paramilitaries expelled most of the Ingush population (up to 64,000 people) in the Republic of North Ossetia in a week.2
Although Russian forces had participated in the conflict, it was the Government of Russia that held the key to ending the fighting and preventing an inter-republic conflict within the Federation. A sizeable contingent of the Russian Army, exercising emergency powers decreed by Russian President Boris Yeltsin, brought stability to the situation and ended the fighting (after about 600 deaths) on 6 November 1992. A Temporary Administration, also established by the emergency powers and answering directly to Yeltsin, ruled by decree in both North Ossetia and Ingushetia until February 1995. Displaced Ingush were allowed to return to select villages in East Prigorodny and some hostages were returned.3 Although the territory remains contested, the conflict has been contained since 1992.