Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Window on Eurasia: Daghestan a Failed State and Must Be ‘Built Anew,’ Abdulatipov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 24 – The government of Daghestan “has been completely destroyed and must be build anew with the participation of various political forces” including the formation of new political parties, according to Ramaan Abdulatipov, who is the current acting head of that North Caucasus republic.

            Confessing that the situation is much worse than he had expected, Abdulatipov told a TV call-in show that even when he was in Moscow, he kept track of what was going on in the republic but “did not think that the crisis was so deep” and that “not a single sphere is functioning normally” (

            As a result, he said, “much of what could work for the development of the republic is not working.”  Corruption is rampant, and the state agencies that are supposed to control basic public services have lost control of them to private interests that are using them to make a profit rather than service the population.

The economy has collapsed, he continued, and only nine percent of the workforce is employed in industry. “What kind of a society is that?” Abdulatipov asked rhetorically, promising to promote “a new industrialization” of Daghestan with a Moscow-supplied credit of $400 million and by attracting foreign investment from China.

But the rot has spread even further, he said. For example, the republic head said, “education in Daghestan is in fact destroyed. There are instructors ad teachers who continue to do their work but on the whole the existing system of education cannot lead us out of the crisis.” It has to be “completely” transformed at all levels.

The situation elsewhere is no better, he suggested.  Much of the republic’s arable land is not being used for agriculture. Unemployment especially among the young is far too high. And there are problems with the draft. Daghestani men must be taken into the military because if they are not, “the motherland will suffer enormous harm.”

Finally, Abdulatipov said, extremism and terrorism remain “the main problems” of the republic, alongside the widespread dominance of clans in this or that sector.  “This disturbs me most of all, he said, because as a result of this “we are killing ourselves” in a war in which “there will not be any victors.”

The republic leader said that he had asked the Russia MVD to send a special brigade to Daghestaan to “cleanse” the republic branch from unhealthy elements and to “cleanse” society as a whole. There has been some progress, Abdulatipov said, pointing to the special operation in Gimri and to the dismissal of some officials.

But if the situation is going to improve, “the vigilance of the population is very important for the law-enforcement organs. Everyone knows very well who and what people in the auls are thinking. And as long as there is even the slightest indifference of the citizens themselves,, the law-enforcement bodies will not be able to complete this work.”

Because of the role of clans and clan values in Makhachkala, he said, “the system of administration in the republic has been completely destroyed and in the nearest future must be build anew with the participation of various political forces and political parties created anew” as well, describing a situation that many would call state failure.

In reporting these comments, “Kavkazskaya politika” pointed out that Daghestanis had asked Abdulatipov far more questions than he had provided answers. More than 160 questions were sent in to the station, but he took up only ten. The moderator said that 54 were unclear or duplicates and 12 were “incorrect” or declarations rather than questions.

Many may be inclined to dismiss Abdulatipov’s remarks as nothing more than the usual statement of a new republic head who hopes to be a new broom there.  But his willingness to talk about what looks like state failure in a place that recently has attracted international attention is significant.

Moreover, at least some of those who heard or read his remarks are certain to conclude that they apply at least in part not just to Daghestan or to the North Caucasus but more broadly to other parts of the Russian Federation. And if those include some in Moscow, Abdulatipov and Daghestan are likely to have even more problems ahead of them than they do now.

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