Sunday, August 5, 2018

Makhachkala Neglecting Rural Daghestan Much as Moscow is Rural Russia

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 5 – Even though nearly one in every four Daghestanis live in mountainous rural areas, the republic government in Makhachkala largely ignores them, making all kinds of promises but failing to deliver, an approach that has led to rapid outmigration, impoverishment, linguicide, and rising popular anger, experts say.

            Recently, Gadzhikurban Alkhasov, the head of the Agul Service at Daghestan State Radio, told the Federal Lezgin National Cultural Autonomy site that the situation with regard to his people, who number 34,500 in the republic and speak a language related to Lezgin, had become critical (

            What is especially worrisome, he says, is that a recent survey of Daghestani officials found that “a significant part of them do not even know that the Aguls live in Daghestan” and thus aren’t doing anything to help them with infrastructure, education or other immediate needs. Instead, they are acting like the Mongol horde, destroying but not rebuilding.

            Makhachkala has not even been willing to allow the Aguls to form a group within schools to help save their national language even though all the other ethnic groups in their mountainous area have at least this much. As a result, ever fewer Aguls speak their national language, and ever more of them are fleeing their small homeland.

            Milrad Fatullayev, the editor of the Derbent Information Agency and Vagab Kazibekov, a past member of the republic’s Social Chamber, tell Magomed Shamkhadov of the OnKavkaz portal that the situation in other rural segments of Daghestan is as bad or even worse (

            They argue that the central republic authorities have allowed Soviet-era institutions to collapse without putting up anything in their place and suggest that the only way to rectify the situation is for the republic to be allowed to keep more of the tax revenue it collects instead of sending it to Moscow which gives little back.

            Kaazibekov adds that there is another problem: the tendency of Makhachkala to take care of larger ethnic groups like the Avars who are allowed to do many things smaller groups are not including opening schools and having newspapers in their own languages. As a result, these groups aren’t losing population from rural areas as fast.

            The only thing Makhachkala appears to be able to do, he continues, is to make empty promises to the others. Already in 1995, the regime there adopted its 1000th declaration about improving life in mountainous regions of the republic. That may have sounded good, but only 20 percent of these decrees have been realized.  And rural residents are angry. 

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