Unequal Ingush-Chechen land exchange: cartographers' analysis
    Territorial changes of Chechen and Ingush Republics according to the September agreement (signed 26 Sept. 2018). Map prepared by the Caucasian Knot

    At the request of the "Caucasian Knot", a GIS expert, a graduate of the Cartography and Geoinformation Division of the Geography Department of the Moscow State University has analyzed, on the condition of anonymity, the maps of the Chechen Republic and the Republic of Ingushetia in the light of the agreement on the exchange of territories signed on September 26, and made a new map depicting the Ingush-Chechen border.


    The border that existed before the adoption of the new law is borrowed from the Open Street Map, while the boundaries of municipalities – from the Wikipedia. The new border was obtained by converting the boundary coordinates taken from the spreadsheet, published as the annex to the agreement (available in Russian language), into the graphical form.

    Khizir Galaev, the Minister of Agriculture of Ingushetia, has assured that 1290 hectares of Ingush arable land had been transferred from Ingushetia to its neighbour, but Ingushetia received a similar area in the Nadterechny District of Chechnya instead.

    The expert has concluded that 26,800 hectares of the territory of Ingushetia was handed over to Chechnya, but not a single dwelling settlement; Ingushetia received about 1000 hectares.


    According to the expert, each region of the Russian Federation has its local coordinate system, the so-called "local plan coordinates". The data in the document (agreement) are published in the coordinate system of the Republic of Ingushetia (MCK6).

    In order to visualize the data published in the annex to the agreement, we must first calculate the transition parameters – the difference between the local and generally accepted geographic coordinates.

    This is done based on the selection of the transition parameters – the coordinates of the central point in geographic coordinates (degrees of latitude and longitude), the directional angle (the angle between the direction to the geographic north and the north of the local coordinate system) – and binding them to characteristic objects on the surface, for example, to rivers.

    In the published agreement, a part of the border goes along rivers. For a cartographer, this is enough to pick up the transition. The area of the exchanged territories was calculated in the GIS software by superimposed border lines on each other before and after the adoption of the agreement.

    The expert's conclusions differed so much from the statements made by officials that the "Caucasian Knot" had to resort to the help of another expert to check if this is all true. See below the conclusion of the second expert.

    The expert was Sofia Gavrilova, a Ph.D. (in Geography), a cartographer and a graduate student at the Oxford University.


    The map proposed by the above anonymous expert is built on two sources. The basis is the data of the Open Street Maps portal – a reliable source of open cartography data, the "substrate" of basic layers; this does not cause any doubts or questions.

    The new border is built on the coordinates presented in the annex to the 2018 order on the border transfer. The problem with building the data on these coordinates is that the local projection used in Ingushetia is secret, and its exact parameters cannot be known. However, this is necessary to convert data into "popular" projections. Meanwhile, cartographers can quite easily select the transition parameters; and this was done in this case.

    The general nature of the border is beyond doubt.

    Another issue is that the building of the border on very clear coordinates from the order does not match the level of spatial generalization with the "old" border. Roughly speaking, the new border on the map is much more detailed than the old one. This is a normal discrepancy, since for a more accurate "fixing" of the old border, it is necessary to bind and clarify it by using the modern topographic maps of Ingushetia and Chechnya, which are, with a high degree of probability, of secret scales.

    In the assessment, two areas are distinguished which absolutely cannot be attributed to an error and which indicate a displacement of the border.

    The first area is 26 kilometres north of Magas Airport, near the dwelling settlement of Goragorsky; its area is about 6000 hectares. The second one covers a part of the Ingush nature reserve and the reserve "Erzi"; the area of the entire area, as estimated at a scale of 1:300,000, is about 20,000 hectares.

    It should be noted that in both cases the border moves into the territory of the Republic of Ingushetia, that is, at the expense of its area.

    The only part of the border movement in the direction of Chechnya is estimated at 1000 hectares.

    I estimate that, based on the results of the border change, the areas that moved to Chechnya are at least 26,000 hectares. I one hundred percent trust the opinion of the first expert, and confirm that, judging by the document (annexes to the agreement on the new Chechen-Ingush border, – note of the "Caucasian Knot"), Chechnya takes over 25 times more land than Ingushetia.