Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Nogay Crisis in Daghestan Echoes in the Middle Volga Region

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 4 – Protests by some 450 Nogay activists against Makhachakala’s attempt to impose its own man as head of their region without taking their views into account and threats by some of them to lead their region out of Daghestan if nothing changes are now echoing far beyond that North Caucasus republic.

            Today, some of the activists broke into the administrative center building to demand that their voices be heard, to assert that no one must be named head of their region in northwestern Daghestan without their consent, and to warn that if they continue to be ignored, they will demand a referendum on the self-determination of their region.

            The referendum would call for the entire region to be transferred from Daghestan to one of the neighboring federal subjects of the Russian Federation, which include in this case Chechnya, Kalmykia and Stavropol kray.  Moscow and Makhachkala will certainly oppose this, but the demand itself is attracting attention.

            At their meeting today, the Nogay activists distributed an appeal, noting that “today we are forced to assemble in connection with the deep political conflict arising on the fault of the authorities of Daghestan and the former leader of the Nogay district of the republic” and pointing to the demands of the June 14 congress of the Nogay people.

            Unfortunately, the appeal notes, their legitimate demands continue to be “ignored” by Makhachkala, which continues to try to run the Nogay district as if it were the personal fiefdom of the powers that be in the republic capital rather than the homeland of the Turkic Nogays whose opinions must be respected.

            Over the last 15 years, the Nogay activists continue, their region has been reduced to extreme poverty and many of its youth have been forced to leave because of extraordinarily high levels of poverty.  “All these years,” they say, “the powers have been subordinate not to the people by to the republic-level bureaucrats. 

            Rustam Adilgereyev, a Nogay leader, told Kavkaz.Realii that ever more Nogays are talking about the need to have their region shifted out of Daghestan and included within one of the border regions given that Makhachkala ignores all their reasonable demands for respect and democratic values. 

            Another activist, Arslan Tangatarov confirmed that the Nogays are actively pursuing a referendum on such a shit. “The residents of the Nogay region must express themselves,” he continues, “as to which subject of Russia they want to live given that no one respects us” here in Daghestan.

            Borders are among the most sensitive issues in the Russian Federation because allowing any one of them to be changed especially in response to demands from below will provoke demands from many others for the same thing. That is exactly what appears to be happening now as a result of the Nogay action.

            The IdelReal portal, which is directed at the peoples of the Middle Volga, observes today that “if the referendum about the self-determination of the Nogays takes place, this in essence will become a precedent for the Tatars of Bashkortostan living in the north-west portion of that republic” (idelreal.org/a/28594150.html).

            That is especially likely given that at the congress of the All-Tatar Social Center (VTOTs) on April 8, delegates called for giving Tatar the status of a state language in Bashkortostan and also “’to conduct a referendum about joining parts of Ufa gubernia with its Tatar population to Tatarstan.”

            That possibility makes what is going on among the 100,000 Nogays of northwestern Daghestan far more important and fateful than many may think. If it leads to similar demands in the Middle Volga, that could trigger a redivision of that region into a genuine restoration of the Idel-Ural Republic, an entity that would represent a new and greater challenge to Moscow.

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